Ford Authority

2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 Aerodynamics And Cooling Explained: Feature Spotlight

Ford says that the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will be the quickest-accelerating, most aerodynamically advanced street-legal Mustang ever, but it will do more than just drive fast in a straight line. In fact, the top speed of the new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is limited to 180 miles per hour. With an emphasis on steering, handling, braking, and overall track performance, Ford had to design and engineer some incredibly sophisticated aerodynamic and cooling technology for the new Shelby GT500. This was made possible thanks to virtual testing with supercomputers and 3D printing.

Ford Performance designers, powertrain, and aerodynamics engineers worked as a virtual racing team to test hundreds of designs both digitally and physically during the development process of the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500. The team used state-of-the-art digital and additive manufacturing prototyping tools as part of a mission to make the ultimate, most advanced performance street-legal Mustang of all time – all while saving time and money.

Most significantly is not the technology itself, but the way that Ford managed to create it. “We created and studied designs among the engineering teams and proved out different strategies long before we built our first prototype cars,” said Matt Titus, Ford Performance vehicle engineer. “Not only did this improve the effectiveness of the designs, it dramatically reduced the time it took to develop the GT500 – and the costs associated with that.”


The front splitter and belly pan with reverse wing and available side splitters channel airflow in order to reduce front-end lift and minimize drag in the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500. The louvered hoot vent is six-square-feet in size and helps reduce front-end lift, and minimize drag.

Side splitters and a rear diffuser unique to the GT500 help to channel high-pressure wind around the car. Out back the GT4-style rear wing was designed for the Carbon Fiber Track Package, and adds up to 550 pounds of rear downforce at the cars 180 mph top speed. For those who opt for the Handling Package with the gurney flap installed, the GT500 will achieve 379 pounds of rear downforce at 180 mph.


The front-end openings on the Shelby GT500 are twice as large as the Shelby GT350 for increased cooling capacity. The aforementioned louvered hood vent also assists in dissipating heat. Large ducting in front of the Shelby GT500 front brakes extract up to 100 kilowatts of heat (527 BTU) from the gargantuan 16.5-inch two-piece rotors.

There are six heat exchangers that provide cooling for the 5.2-liter supercharged engine bay. The heat exchangers focus on cooling engine, supercharger, oil, and transmission temperatures. Additionally, there is an auxiliary high-temperature radiator for extra cooling along with an A/C condenser.

The front cooling package on the GT500 increases airflow by 50 percent compared to the GT350, and can extract up to 230 kilowatts of engine heat (1,230 BTU) at wide open throttle. The auxiliary engine radiator and dual thermostat provides additional thermal capacity in high-performance situations. Finally, there is a rear heat exchanger that assists in maintaining controlled rear differential temperatures.

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Austin is an automotive enthusiast from Buffalo, NY with a passion for speed. When Austin isn't writing about the auto industry you can find him racing go-karts, competing in time attack events, or autocrossing his 2017 Toyota 86—with a manual transmission, of course!

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