Shelby American decided to announce their new model at the Segerstrom Shelby Experience. A fitting location as it is home to many of the rarest 1968 GT500 King of the Road (KR) Mustangs.
Speaking about the new car, we spoke to Gary Patterson, Shelby American’s president.
“The company [Shelby American] really rides largely on enthusiasts,” says Patterson, “Its’ not just a job for me… or for many of the key people in the company—it’s a passion that we have, and we’re running a car company with car people.”
“As enthusiasts, we looked at the iconic brands and then brands within the brand, and the KR clearly came to the surface as a key vehicle in the history of the company. When they wanted to make the regular GT500, they put a bigger hammer under the hood just like the 427 Cobra was a bigger hammer under the hood for a Cobra. The big-block ’67 was a bigger hammer for the Mustang. When Carroll licensed the name to Ford for ’68. They had a base 428 engine in it, and they wanted a little bit more. With the connection with Bob Tasca who used the Ford parts book, he created the engine basically using their own over-the-counter parts, which became the Cobra Jet. When the 428 Cobra Jet debuted in the spring of ‘68, they put that in the Shelby GT500 and they called it the King of the Road. And they did it because it was the next step—the next evolution, it was more power, even though it wasn’t rated that way because of insurance rates… the reality is that it made more power and probably in excess of 400 horsepower” described Patterson.
The history of the “King of the Road” name, explains Patterson is that “[Shelby] stole the name from General Motors who was planning to use the name for the Camaro. They, [GM], hadn’t locked up the nameplate yet, and [Carroll] went to his attorneys, because he could do things quickly, and he had them lock down the name.”
For the new GT500, he says that “[W]e wanted to truly do something special at the end of the model run, we decided that the KR would be the ideal nameplate and we needed to make it truly—truly special and very—very limited. So we’re only going to do 60 in the US, for each of the model years of ‘20, ‘21, ’22.”
People will “purchase [their GT500] through a Ford dealership, and bring it to us, and sixty people, per model year, are going to be able to convert their car to a KR,” (Patterson).
Following the theme of making the GT500 King of the Road bigger and better than the stock car, they added horsepower, body changes, and suspension changes. “We talked about it as a theme ‘what does this car need to be to truly justify the nameplate King of the Road?’ And so, horsepower plays a piece of that and one of the ways to do that is with an aftermarket supercharger. We went to our partner, Whipple, who does the superchargers for our current Super Snake, and we said what can you do with the GT500, and they came out with this blower, but we needed to have it done in such a way where it was compliant and ran on pump gas,” says Patterson, the new supercharger is “totally emissions complaint,” that “it’s really a neat package.”
The horsepower has not been finalized yet, “but based on 93 octane we know we’re going to be north of 900 [horsepower]. There are a lot of people out there right now making 1000, but they’re not emissions compliant” (Patterson).
The KR’s body has a new hood. “We wanted to do this on a vehicle that could remain compliant and also have a hood that is unique,” said Patterson who described the new hood as:
“A dry carbon hood, similar to the Signature Edition [GT500] hood that we already did, but yet a slightly new design. It has not only the big aerodynamic assist with the heat and the air extraction that Ford did on the center, but it has the side vents that extract even more air and more heat, and we got the information from the guys at Ford engineering, who told us where and how much [to alter the hood design and added vents], and we designed it to that point, but we got their input first.”
He says that the more aerodynamic hood meant that the rear wing was affected, “You have to add some wing in the back to make sure the back is balanced with the extra downforce that you get in the front. If you look at airflow, the center vents and two side events, exhaust a lot of air. So, air comes in through the nose, but where does it go? It goes down and out the bottom of the car which creates lift and instability.”
Patterson says that “If you have a Carbon Fiber Track Pack car, we leave that wing on,” but if you had a standard GT500 with then “we add a little bit of wing to [the base model’s “swing”] with our own design.”
The KR’s wheels will also be unique. Harking back to Shelby’s recent history of the 2007-2009 GT500 and ’07-08 GT500 KR, the new wheels are a modern iteration of the wheels that were equipped on those vehicles. “[They] had a very distinct look,” claims Patterson, “We’ve recreated that with a new flavor for ’20-’22. So it’s really a tribute back to the KRs that we’ve done with a modern twist.”
Other changes are “MagneRide programming and suspension enhancements and drop the ride height slightly… and a very unique seat design, which kind of a snakeskin look to it and the KR logos are a very clear departure from a normal GT500 if there is such a thing” (Patterson).
The year 2022 is both the 55th Anniversary of the GT500 and the 60th-anniversary of Shelby American. All 2022 Shelby cars or trucks will come with a 60th-anniversary badge. This badge will set any 2022 GT500 KR apart from the other 2020, 2021 models.
The Shelby GT500KR Package starts at $54,995.00.