SVT chief: The Boss 302 was the motivation for the 2013 Shelby GT500, not the Camaro ZL1
The announcement of the 2013 Shelby GT500 at the L.A. Auto Show caused various reactions throughout the automotive community. Mustang fans, of course, were ecstatic to see a production Mustang with 650 horsepower capable of 200 mph. Others, like Al Oppenheiser, the chief engineer of the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, had a different perspective. After the Shelby’s debut, Oppenheiser wrote a letter to the Camaro Nation claiming that the “2013 GT500 will still not match the technology and sophistication of the 2012 Camaro ZL1.” He took it another step further, saying “for Mustang fans, you’re welcome. Clearly the Camaro has encouraged Ford to throw everything they can at us.”
That’s not the case, according to Jamal Hameedi, the SVT chief nameplate engineer. At the L.A. Auto Show Hameedi informed us that the increased performance of the 2013 GT500 was not inspired by the Camaro ZL1 but rather to stay a step ahead of the Mustang Boss 302. When we asked whether the Camaro ZL1 influenced the development of the 2013 GT500, he quickly responded by saying “surprisingly not because when we launched this program it was in the darkest days of the automotive industry. Everyone had said the ZL1 program was canceled. So actually when we kicked this program off the ZL1 was canceled at the time.” Rather, Hameedi informed us that SVT realized that additional performance was required of the GT500 during Ford’s development and testing of the Boss 302. “We wanted to make a big step in performance,” he told us. “We didn’t just want to just make a marginal step.”
This isn’t too surprising, considering the Boss 302’s straight line performance is fairly close to that of the 2012 Shelby GT500. Motor Trend achieved a 0-60 mph time of 4.0 seconds flat in a Boss 302, a nearly identical time to what a GT500 is capable of producing, and a stock Boss 302 has produced 1/4 mile times well into the 11s with just a set of drag radials.
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