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FORD MUSTANG SHELBY GT500 CONVERTIBLE WON’T HAPPEN AS S550 PLATFORM REACHES APEX

The S650 Mustang Is Expected To Debut As Soon As Next Year

2021 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 S550
Image copyright Steven Pham, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Ford executives have recently confirmed to MC&T that there are no plans to build an S550 Mustang Shelby GT500 Convertible. This is largely due to engineers reaching the physical limitations of what’s possible with the platform. It’s unclear at this time if this will be the case for the S650 generation.

“When we designed the (S550 platform Mustang) we really looked at the high end and projected what we’ve historically been able to do,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s chief product platform and operations officer, when asked if the S550 platform was maxed out. “The GT500 I think we projected for. It’s towards the top end of the capabilities of (S550)… one of the things we didn’t do was a convertible variant for that reason. You have to find the bandwidth of the architecture.”

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review S550
Photo copyright Matheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

S550 To S650 Ford Mustang: “Sweating The Asset”

These comments from Hau Thai-Tang come as Ford Motor Company readies the next-generation of the mighty Mustang muscle car; which will ride on the S650 platform. The S650 Mustang will be an extensively revised version of the S550 model on sale today, but will stop short of being all-new. This will include a new exterior and interior design, but the mechanical bits like the engines and transmissions will carry forward. A Mustang sedan is rumored for consideration, but it’s believed that this vehicle will be electric, as will be the Mustang coupe after the S650 generation, expected by 2028 or so.

General Motors did something similar with the Cadillac CT4 and CT5, which ride on an updated architecture from their ATS and CTS predecessors, but isn’t an entirely new platform. As automakers look to transition to electric propulsion, and budgeting the tens of billions of dollars needed to do so, look for this to be more of a common practice. In doing so, OEMs are able to extend the life cycles of existing assets and investments, at a minimal cost relative to all-new architectures that would require extensive manufacturing and tooling investments. Hau describes this practice as “sweating the asset.”

In addition to cost, Ford Motor Company and other OEMs have other regulatory factors to consider, such as CAFE requirements. Hence the introduction of vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.

“You could make the case that the Mach-E is keeping the Mustang going,” said Thai-Tang. “We have to meet a corporate average CO2 requirement, and if we didn’t have products like Mach-E to offset products like Mustang, the Mustang would be short-lived. I don’t think enthusiasts have anything to worry about. They should get in and drive this thing (Mach-E). It’s really going to open their eyes.”

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review Emissions Fuel Economy CAFE Regulations EPA
Photo copyright Matheus Pach, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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