By Craig Hastings
In 2013 Ford Motor Company reached a milestone in the company’s history. The men and women working in Ford’s hot rod group, SVT (Special Vehicle Team), had succeeded in convincing the proper corporate executives to give them a green light to build the most powerful V8 engine Ford has ever produced. The only catch; build it without requiring Ford to charge a gas guzzler tax on the car it would be installed. SVT sourced the 351c.i. (5.8 litre) engine for one last time from its assumed permanently retired status. Big bore V8 engines were no longer needed to produce big power. Most auto manufacturers are getting away from V8 engines all together. Pickup trucks would continue to have V8 engines installed but not because they needed a V8. Pickup trucks get V8 options because macho men from my generation still believe a V8 is the only motor configuration that can power a big and burly 4 wheel drive truck down the road, up a hill, through the mud, and plow through snow. Pay no attention to the fact that most 4 wheel drive pickups are never driven off road and few will ever need their 4 wheel drive capability to power them through a snowstorm or even a light dusting.
But, we men in all of our testosterone madness are what we are and believe we need to be ready at all times to rescue our friends and families from a 2-inch snowfall, or a couple inches of rain coming down without warning, or maybe to drive through some tall grass to look for a lost dog, or pull us up a steep incline with a couple of boards in the bed of a truck! And after we’ve accomplished these great feats of mechanical strength with our V8s, we can exaggerate the actual circumstances into something that a Sherman tank probably couldn’t have accomplished! Come on, we’ve all told a tale of a great rescue when we owned a 4-wheel drive truck or SUV. Today Ford builds a twin turbo V6 as an option in their full size pickup trucks that is more powerful than their gas powered V8s. But, yes, me being old school I would still opt for the V8 in my truck! Even with this powerful V6 available, trying to swing the truck buyer market is a difficult task.
I’ve drifted from the intention of my story. Back to the revived 351. Before the 2013 model year production began SVT had managed to massage 662 horsepower from their 351 engine. SVT would install a limited number of these engines in a handful of new Mustangs and designate it: “Shelby GT 500.” The car is capable of 202 mph in a straight line and 127 mph in the first 1320 feet! The quickest and fastest Mustang ever produced by Ford. But why would anyone need a car this fast to drive around on public roadways? Who would even want one? Well…me! And I didn’t want one to ever drive it to its limits. I just wanted bragging rights at any bench racing session I might partake. The 2013s sold out quickly, but I did manage to secure a 2014 at the end of the model run. In just two years less than 6,000 cars were produced. Five years later, and Ford hadn’t come close to building a motor with the same power as this last 351. Chevrolet has come close, but even
Chevrolet’s infamous Corvettes and ZL1 Camaros fell short. Of course they did.
I believed that no one would ever release a larger displacement, more powerful, and therefore faster car than the 2013-2014 Shelby GT 500. But, who of all auto manufacturers would dare throw down and challenge the King Cobra if not
Chevrolet? FCA Group would. Who is FCA you ask? The short answer is Dodge!
Yes, a big and heavy Dodge Challenger to be exact. An 800 horsepower Challenger designated “Demon” by the SRT team at Dodge (Street & Racing Technology). Not to be one upped, Ford has six years later released a smaller but more powerful 5.2 litre V8 engine. Now with 760 horsepower, the newest Shelby GT 500 has been released as a 2020 model. Rumor has it Chevrolet may later this year release a ZR1 Corvette as a 2021 model powered by an 800 plus horsepower motor. If true, the Corvette will once again be crowned “King,” and it will be difficult to dethrone the new king if they do.
So, here I sit with this now slow ho hum 2014 Shelby GT 500. What to do?
Should I decide to jump into the 800 horsepower market does someone release an 850 plus horsepower car? Corvette has gone to a mid-engine design car now that is slick as ice in a wind tunnel. Therefore it doesn’t need as much power to go faster than the rest. The Camaro is rumored to be discontinued again.
Challenger/Charger are big and heavy cars that need more power to keep up but, they not only keep up but are faster than Ford and Chevrolet…for now! I just read that the new Challenger Red Eye edition is good for 205 mph! The rumor at Dodge is a that the SRT guys are kicking around an all new and lighter weight “Cuda.” The car would be smaller and lighter than the Challenger and offered only in a two door. This would probably kill the Challenger off, but the bigger four-door Charger would stick around. If the Camaro goes away, and Ford doesn’t plan for an 800 plus horsepower Mustang, this power craziness may just go away for awhile, which would stall any “Cuda” remake at Dodge. (Yes, the Barracuda/Cuda model was a Plymouth not a Dodge.) Me, I can’t imagine sitting in a Challenger traveling at 205 mph without seeing the Grim Reaper laughing at me at the ready the entire ride!
Maybe I’ll just get out of the go fast game and get me something else. Something else? Hey! Maybe I’ll get back into the 4-wheel-drive V8 pickup truck club again! Big, fat, heavy, slow, but the stories I could tell the day after the first 2-inch snowfall! And, in the spring after a good rainfall that leaves some puddles in the road I could tell how it was thanks to God that I had a 4-wheel-drive truck that sat up high enough to allow me to tread such deep water on my way to IGA! Of course I’d have to take my new pickup to a muffler shop to have those obnoxious cannon barrel size dual exhaust tail pipes installed! Those are good for like what, 20-30 horsepower?! No, of course they’re not, but that’s the story I’d tell to my new found truck’n buddies. Finally, I’d tell everyone my new 4-wheel-drive and V8 powered pickup truck is so powerful that it will idle up Wimple Park Hill…in reverse!
Or, maybe I should wait until 2024 when A.O.C becomes President of The United States so to wait in line for my government issued electric scooter because all fossil fueled vehicles will have been sent to the crusher. No need for speed and no need for loud V8 trucks. Problem solved.