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Ford Drops New Details on the GT500's Airflow and Aerodynamics

More spec numbers trickle out as Ford Performance touts 3D printing.

Ford's long-anticipated, upcoming Mustang Shelby GT500 produces maximum rear downforce of 550 pounds at 180 mph when equipped with the optional Mustang GT4-like rear wing that comes as part of the Carbon-Fiber Track Package. The downforce number is 379 pounds at the same speed from the Handling package's smaller wing that features a Gurney flap. (For context, the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350 produces a tad under 300 pounds of maximum downforce, the company says.) These are among the latest set of numbers from Ford Performance, which has yet to release the GT500 5.2-liter supercharged V-8's precise horsepower number or the car's overall weight, but is trickling out small details in a keep-the-buzz-going publicity campaign. Ford hasn't announced a price for the Shelby Mustang GT500 yet, either.

Ford Performance invited a small group to its Allen Park wind tunnel to tout its 3D printing of prototype parts, especially air intakes and aero bits, plus its supercomputer-powered design and engineering efforts. Ford stated its "designers, powertrain and aerodynamics engineers functioned as a virtual race team to test hundreds of designs both digitally and physically." As to the latter, the company touts real-world racetrack testing of the GT500 at Virginia International Raceway, NOLA Motorsports Park near New Orleans, and GingerMan Raceway in South Haven, Michigan. There's nothing new about using 3D printing, supercomputers, and race team discipline to build a racetrack-ready performance car, of course, though Ford Performance says more than 500 3D-printed cooling and aero designs were analyzed.

Wind tunnel testing at Allen Park and at Ford Performance's technical center in Concord, North Carolina, produced the results you see in the nifty airflow graphic above, with air entering the lower front fascia vents and exiting the 6.03-square-foot louvered hood vent. The GT500's nose has been "pulled forward" from the GT 350's, with unique sheetmetal forward of the A-pillars.

"We want sustained lap-time performance," Matt Tranter explains. The Ford Performance engineer described how his team saved a GT350 preproduction prototype from the scrapyard in order to use its front fascia to test various 3D-printed parts for the GT500. Given the V-8's 2.6-liter supercharger and 700-plus-hp output, the team needed to keep the air temperature "as cool as possible."

That includes an auxiliary high-temperature radiator accompanying the Mustang GT-sourced main radiator, a unique water pump impeller, and the dual thermostat from the F-series's diesel engine. The CNR Racing engine-oil cooler is larger than the GT350's and a direct transfer from Ford's NASCAR program. A radiator mounted horizontally in the lower fascia cools the dual-clutch transmission.

Ford Performance resorted to a number of tricks to keep the GT500's nose down on weight despite all the added coolers and other parts, but Tranter says Ford Performance isn't ready to reveal how that mass compares with that of the donor GT350's nose. We'll just have to wait at least until the next 2020 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 info drop.