This year's North American International Auto Show, which wraps up Sunday, is special because it marks the unveiling of the first Shelby ‘Super Snake' Mustang created since Shelby American's founder, Carroll Shelby, passed away in 2012.
The 2013 Shelby GT500 Super Snake ‘Wide Body' started life as a 662hp Ford Mustang GT 500 and ups the power to an incredible, but road legal 850hp. Making sure that extra power is channeled towards the road, the vehicle's rear quarters and rear tires are three inches wider for optimum traction off the line. Shelby doesn't publish performance figures for the Super Snake because other than engine output, each one will be slightly different, customized to the individual driver's specifications.
Also on show is a hot rod with even humbler origins, the Shelby Focus ST which takes the spritely sport variant of Ford's small family hatchback range and upgrades the suspension, brakes, wheels, tires and exhaust system. The stock-turbocharged engine also gets a re-tune for even greater performance.
"Carroll Shelby's innovative and aggressive hot-rodder spirit lives on at Shelby American today," said John Luft, president of Shelby American. "His Cobra redefined the sports car genre and then Shelby turned what some called a ‘secretary's car,' the Mustang, into the fire-breathing GT350. A few years later, Shelby practically invented the American ‘Pocket Rocket' with the four-cylinder turbocharged, front wheel drive Shelby GLH. This year, we're returning to our roots with a pair of game-changing cars that will rewrite the rules for American performance."
One of motorsport's greatest characters and raconteurs, Carroll Shelby was a leading racecar driver in the 1950s, winning the Le Mans 24 race in 1959 before being forced to retire due to ill health. In the same year he started the Shelby-American company and set about developing what were to become era-defining sportscars. In the 1960s, these included the AC Cobra, the Daytona Coupe and the Mustang Shelby 350GT. In the 1970s he changed allegiance from Ford to Dodge, a move which would culminate in the V10 Dodge Viper in 1992. In his later years, despite increasing frailty (he had received a heart transplant in 1990 and a kidney transplant in 1996) he returned to Ford and oversaw the development of the company's first true supercar, the 2005 Ford GT. In May 2012 he passed away, aged 89, but not before he had resurrected the ‘Super Snake' name and started developing hardcore racing versions of the company's resurrected Mustang line.
Of the decision to turn a family hatchback into a hot rod, Gary Patterson, vice president of Operations/Sales at Shelby American said: "Carroll Shelby ignored critics who said the turbo four Omni couldn't be an affordable performance car in the 1980s. He proved them wrong with an impressive, lightweight four cylinder performer. Ford Motor Company's new Focus ST is the perfect platform for the rebirth of the front wheel drive turbo four cylinder Shelby. It is a car that Carroll wanted to build before his passing and is a worthy successor to his ‘Pocket Rocket' GLH."
Prices for the 2013 Shelby GT500 Super Snake start at $28,995 (662 hp) and $39,995 (850 hp). The "Wide Body" option adds another $17,995. Note that these figures are only for the customization work and not for the Ford Mustang GT500 on which the work will be based.
The 2013 Shelby Focus ST post-title package begins at $14,995 not including the Ford Focus ST and will be limited to 500 per model year.