Return of the Five Liter Ford Mustang


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2011 Ford Mustang GT

By Thom Cannell
Senior Editor
The Auto Channel
Detroit Bureau


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Dearborn MI Auto Central December 27, 2009; You’d have to be a geezer to admit you remember the original 289 “HiPo” V8 offered in 1964 Mustang. If you’re a bit younger the original 302 cubic inch / 5.0-liter motor stirred your heart and probably initiated several conversations with law enforcement. With no disrespect to later 4.6-liter engines, the 302/5.0-liter is the sentimental favorite. With the coming of the 2011 Mustang GT there will be many “I-gotta-have-it” conversations between spouses as its 412 horsepower and 390 pounds-feet of torque should create frenzy as well as joy.

Viewing the new motor, laid out in social groupings like a valve train—exhaust—block—pistons and squirters Smorgasbord was to meet and chat with the actual developmental engineers; the team counts less than ten. The new 5.0 creates 83 hp per liter, racing engine territory.

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And it has double overhead cams, roller-finger followers, mandrel bent stainless steel headers, variable independent camshaft timing, all aluminum construction with steel cylinder sleeves, massive internal cooling, cross-drilled four-bolt main bearings, an endless list of technical details that just say Ford is incredibly serious about this motor.

There are many keys to achieving the power and torque of the new engine. Having variable camshafts is one. Ford uses energy from the cams themselves to alter valve timing. Oil is the medium but their system will work reliably with hot and thin oil at low pressures and low idle speeds. Heads are new, compact and have a very direct intake and exhaust flow path. The block is robust and deeply sumped and baffled to permit sustained high-rpms and increase oil life to 10,000 mile. Internally, lightweight pistons have oil squirted directly up onto them for better lubrication and quicker cold start warmup.

The engine weighs 430 pounds making it a lightweight. Fuel economy is modestly improved for the 6-speed automatic and similar to 2009 models for manual transmission vehicles at 25 highway/17 city (up from 23 hwy/17 city) and 24 hwy/16 city. GT’s, like other Mustangs for 2011, use Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) for lower low-speed steering effort and improved on-center abilities, stiffer lower control arms at the rear plus a heftier rear stabilizer bar and retuned springs and dampers. Brembo brakes are available, as is a standard message center, blind spot mirrors, and Ford’s MyKey which can be programmed to keep kids, spouses, or you out of trouble by continuously sounding the fasten seat belt warning, limiting speed, and even limiting the stereo volume. Interior features like a 160 mph speedometer and 7,000 rpm redline tachometer are standard, as are 5.0 fender badges.


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The return of the 5.0 brings with it two racing versions, one of which you can order at the parts counter of your local Ford dealer. While “cheap” at $79,000 MSRP for a fully developed race car, the Boss 302R qualifies for local track days, SCCA and NASA classes and some Grand-Am racing. This race car comes with a six-speed manual, roll cage and racing harness, race seats and wheel-tire package, and a pre-tuned spring-damper package. Data acquisition is standard, a feature that can improve your driving with amazing rapidity. Five M-FR500-BOSS R1 vehicles are ready to compete in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge’s first race at Daytona on January 29. MSRP for that race car is $129,000, still cheap.

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