Back to the future for this lighter, stronger Shelby GT500CR.
It's not a modern performance car if it doesn't have bits of carbon fiber slapped across the dashboard or, more usefully, as part of its core structure. The mighty strength-to-weight ratio of carbon fiber reinforced polymer (CFRP) is highly regarded, but the material is expensive, so its use in older sports cars is exceedingly rare - the '70s Citroen SM used carbon fiber wheels, one of the early applications of the material.
Today, supercars like the McLaren 720S feature a full carbon fiber monocoque, and the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is available with a Carbon Fiber Track Package. But the blending of carbon fiber and classic performance cars has just taken a big leap forward thanks to an exciting project by Oklahoma-based Classic Recreations to build 1960s Shelby Mustang GT500CRs with lighter carbon fiber body panels. Classic car looks and modern construction? Yes, please.
Classic Recreations - an officially-licensed builder of Ford and Shelby continuation cars - sought the expertise of SpeedKore Performance Group, based in Wisconsin, to manufacture the carbon fiber bodies. "We wanted to work with someone who shared our vision for the future of custom car building," explained Jason Engel, the Founder and President of Classic Recreations.
The process of creating this truly special Shelby GT500CR begins with a restored 1967 or 1968 Mustang body. Carbon fiber body panels are then added to the steel tub; these panels are later cured by a large in-house auto-clave. What remains is the "world's first officially-licensed Shelby Mustang that is lighter and stronger than an all-steel body."
"Since 1998, Mr. Shelby believed that carbon fiber would be the future of American sports car manufacturing," said Neil Cummings, the Co-CEO of Carroll Shelby International. Of course, with less weight to carry around, the GT500CR's engines can really shine - options include a 5.0-liter, 490-horsepower Coyote crate engine and a 900-hp 427-cubic-inch supercharged engine. That should make for a more evocative experience than the last carbon-fiber Mustang we saw, which was all-electric.
All models have a five-speed manual gearbox, a stainless-steel MagnaFlow performance exhaust system, American Racing forged wheels, and high-performance Michelin Z-rated tires. Customers can choose from an array of interior enhancements, while an automatic gearbox is also offered.
Overall, it's a dazzling mix of modern-day construction and materials mixed with old-school muscle car style. Basically, we want one.