"We spent a lot of time updating the Cobra
logo," says Gaffka. "The design team was very passionate
about painstakingly adding detailed snake scales and adding a sharper
edge to the teeth to honor the original.
"The Cobra logo is the perfect icon for the
GT500. It represents the history and performance of both Shelby
and SVT. And, the Cobra badge shows the future of Mustang performance,
melding Shelby and SVT into a thoroughly modern vehicle that still
recognizes its legacy."
Comfort and style have a clear mission in the Ford
Shelby Cobra GT500 show car: provide a well-appointed yet businesslike
cockpit that clearly appeals to the driving enthusiast. While seating
position and comfort are always top priorities for drivers, quality
materials and craftsmanship are no less important. Just a single
look or touch needs to convey instantly that this is one very special
"Today's Mustang Cobra buyer expects the kind
of amenities and a level of comfort and fit and finish that simply
weren't available during the Shelby heydays," says Doug Gaffka,
chief designer, Ford SVT. "But we also know of enthusiasts
who believe that a woodgrain dash doesn't belong in a 1970 Shelby
GT500 – or any purposeful performance car. So we sought to
exceed the expectations of both in the new GT500."
The GT500 interior design borrows from the 2005
Mustang's symmetrical instrument panel and square-arched "eyebrows"
on each side of the center stack, paying tribute to the muscle car's
40-year heritage. The quality materials, precision craftsmanship
and technical innovations translate perfectly to the higher-end
The GT500 also shares the base architecture's solid
structure, forming the basis for engineering a quiet interior. As
a result, enthusiasts will enjoy more of the 450-plus horsepower,
all-American V-8's throaty grumble and less of the wind and road
noises that distract from enjoyment of long drives.
Time spent at race tracks to develop the 2005 Mustang
pay off in the GT500's interior ergonomics. The steering wheel,
shifter and pedals are all placed optimally for enthusiast driving,
ideal for heel-and-toe performance shifting, thanks to the upfront
engineering work. The seating position is more natural, supportive
and comfortable for drivers – either for spirited track driving
or for long stints along the twisties.
"We spent a lot of time developing the 2005
Mustang at race tracks because we knew enthusiast driving traits
would benefit all versions of the car, not just the Shelby GT500,"
says Hau Thai-Tang, director, Advanced Product Creation and SVT.
"These track tests were important for tuning the car and, importantly,
for laying out key driving interfaces inside the car."
Lathered in black leather, even on the dash
The GT500 gives new meaning to the term "leather
interior" as the dash, seat borders and door panels are completely
wrapped in Black Ebony leather. Also wrapped in ebony leather are
the shift lever, shift boot and parking-brake handle.
For visual contrast, the GT500 features satin-aluminum
finished trim (rather than traditional chrome) and new "SVT
Red" leather seat inserts and door-trim panels provide a marked
contrast to the rest of the leather-trimmed cabin, creating a very
special driving environment.
Mini-perforated leather seat inserts cover the GT500's
extra-supportive bucket seats for a soft, supple hide that breathes,
making for a more comfortable ride. As an added styling touch, Cobra
emblems are embroidered on the front seatbacks.
When the driver takes hold of the steering wheel,
he or she will instantly know this is a car made for the serious
car enthusiast in part due to the substantial size and feel that
enhances driver control.
"One change we made in the GT500 interior plays
directly into the driver's hands – literally," says Gaffka.
"We redesigned the leather-wrapped steering wheel so the grips
are thicker and better positioned for enthusiast driving. And, of
course, the airbag cover had to wear proper GT500 identification."
SVT-style, titanium-faced instruments and performance
shifter keep driver connected
High-performance driving involves keeping track
of a myriad of visual inputs, and that includes the regular monitoring
of engine and other vehicle system functions. As such, the GT500
has a unique instrument cluster specially designed for the needs
of an enthusiast driver.
To enthusiasts, a tachometer is at least as important
as a speedometer, and a full array of gauges is a must. As such,
the positions of the tachometer and speedometer are reversed on
the GT500, making the tachometer the dominant gauge visibly for
the driver. Also, the voltmeter gauge is replaced with a boost gauge
that monitors the performance and health of the supercharger.
The reorganized gauge faces feature a unique titanium-colored
finish, with white lettering – a unique performance cue SVT
pioneered on the original Mustang Cobra. At night, the color of
the illuminated letters can be modified by the MyColor™ color-configurable
The system consists of three light-emitting diodes
– green, blue and red – projected through "light
pipe" fittings located on the sides of the speedometer and
tachometer. At the driver's command, these pipes mix various combinations
of the three primary colors to create more than 125 unique background
color options for the gauges.
The center stack is well designed and uncluttered
for easy use of the radio, climate control and other switchgear
with minimal driver distraction. The highlight of the driver's cockpit
is the substantial leather-wrapped shifter for the six-speed manual
transmission. Reviews of similarly equipped 2005 Mustang GTs promise
enthusiasts will appreciate the shifter's short, smooth shifts just
as much as its visual importance.
The space race – Ample accommodations assure
comfort, room for gear on long drives
The GT500 shares the base architecture's larger
dimensions that open more space inside the cabin while providing
an aggressive stance and a foundation for great driving dynamics.
The benefits include more room for the driver and front- and rear-seat
passengers for more comfort on long trips. Importantly, the trunk
is more than 10 percent larger to hold more travel gear.
"The tallest drivers in our customer base have
not been fully happy with previous Mustangs," says Jay O'Connell,
SVT chief vehicle engineer. "We've addressed that in this all-new
car, while maintaining the 'cockpit feel' essential to a driver's
car. But we wanted to improve comfort for passengers, too. The extra
cabin space makes a world of difference on long drives."
Together, these changes help make the Shelby Cobra
GT500 a driver-oriented car that possesses style and comfort –
and no woodgrain in sight.