Packing all of the exhilaration of its coupe counterpart into an open-air alternative experience, the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 proved a major crowd pleaser at its Chicago debut. Arriving in the same venue that 20 years earlier had played host to the very first offering from Ford's high-performance division -- the 1993 SVT Mustang Cobra -- this modern-day successor made an even more compelling entrance.

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Like the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Coupe that bowed in at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November, this devastatingly potent drop-top is fitted with an identical SVT-spec 5.8-liter supercharged V8 that makes 650 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. Here, too, it's backed by a suitably beefed up six-speed manual transmission that sends that motive might to the rear wheels. 
The all-new chassis tuning and brake systems on the Shelby GT500 Convertible also carry over from the GT500 Coupe with an SVT suspension and ultra-efficient Brembo binders adding consistency and confidence to its handling and stopping potential. Revised stability/traction control programming also allows a driver to roll back and/or defeat the systems to suit their personal taste. Here, too, buyers seeking to put an even finer edge on the experience can step up to a Performance Package that adds SVT-designed Bilstein electronically adjustable shock absorbers and a Torsen limited-slip differential. The hardest-core enthusiasts can build on that with a full-on Track Package that includes an external engine oil cooler, rear differential cooler and transmission cooler.

While Ford execs did not offer any projected acceleration times for the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible, they did note that this new iteration with the Performance Package was 3.5 seconds quicker around the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course than its 2011 and 2012 predecessors. "The Shelby GT500 convertible is every bit the performer that the coupe is," said Kerry Baldori, SVT Global Performance Vehicles chief engineer. "All of the significant changes we made in the program were instrumental in delivering a convertible that could really shine on the track but can still be driven on a daily basis."

To help celebrate the 20th Anniversary of SVT, the new 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 will be fitted with a special illuminated sill plate that commemorates the operation's 20 years of high-performance achievements. The Ford Shelby GT500 Convertible is set to go on sale this summer. While pricing has not been released, it's expected to be in the $55,000-$60,000 range.


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