AUTO

The 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 convertible will blow you away

Celebrating  SVT's  20th anniversary

 (© 2012 Ford Motor Company © 2012 Ford Motor Company )

Because a 200 mph muscle car isn’t crazy enough, Ford introduced a convertible version of its ridiculously powerful 2013 Mustang Shelby GT500 at the 2012 Chicago Auto Show, complete with the hardtop’s 650 hp supercharged 5.8-liter V8 engine.

Engineered by Ford’s SVT performance division, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary at the show this year, the convertible GT500 features the same aerodynamic bodywork as the coupe, with the one very obvious difference being the roof.

Read: Ford unleashes a 200 mph Mustang

“The engine and exhaust are just going to be in your ear,” says SVT Chief Engineer Jamal Hameedi.

Both the coupe and convertible ride on a high-performance suspension system with available electronically controlled dampers that can be switched between comfort and sport modes, the latter for improved handling. New gearing in the transmission takes advantage of the motor’s prodigious 600 lb-ft of torque.

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See: All the new cars from the 2012 Chicago Auto Show

An advanced traction and stability control system offers several modes that incrementally decrease level of its intervention, as well as a launch control feature for the drag strip, where you probably shouldn’t be taking a convertible – at least not before you install a roll bar. If you do, an optional Track Package ads coolers for the engine oil, rear differential and transmission.

“Nothing has been left unturned to make this car a balanced, complete package,” Hameedi says.

Driving the point home, the new convertible is 3.5 seconds a lap faster around the challenging Sebring International Raceway road course than the 2012 GT500 hardtop was.

Smartly, and sadly for some, the top speed of the convertible has been electronically limited to 155 mph for safety reasons.

Pricing has not been announced, but the GT500 Convertible will go head to head with the 580 hp Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible when they both go on sale later this year.

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