The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is a towering achievement for Ford's engineers: Page 5 of 5

Ford's fastest-ever Mustang shows the value in carefully tuning even the best parts to get the most from them.
Image source: Ford Motor Co.

Another problem normally found with tires as wide as the 305mm-wide fronts on the GT500 is a tendency for such cars to follow road surface imperfections rather than tracking straight down the road. This is often called “tramlining” after the effect of a tram following its tracks, though Krenz refers to it as “rut wander” as the affected cars follow the usually unnoticed ruts that occur in the wheel tracks of many highways.

Ford avoided this problem in the GT500 by dialing in additional trail in the steering hub uprights, also known as spindles, knuckles or kingpins. This added trail comes from increasing the castor angle, or fore/aft tilt of the upright from a vertical axis, which strengthens the car’s inclination to self-center its steering. This increases both steering effort and the feel fed back to the driver’s hands for what the tires are doing at potential expense of heavy steering at parking lot speeds. But with power assisted steering, that side-effect isn’t noticeable. 

Image source: Ford Motor Co.

What is noticeable is that while cars with fat front tires like top of the line Porsche 911s and Dodge Challengers can wander in their lanes like distracted dogs on their leashes, the GT500 tracks true to its intended course, which is much less fatiguing for the driver.

This solution worked so well that Ford decided to apply the new steering geometry to the GT350 too. Some of the other hardware bits seem like they might also be candidates to filter down to the lighter, naturally aspirated Shelby.

They will help improve that car too, but only if they are applied with the same thoughtful engineering work that tunes the parts as perfectly as the GT500 assemblage of high-performance components has been. It is unusual for a car with such superb componentry to deliver more than the sum of its excellent parts, but that’s exactly what the GT500 has done. This is the poster child for the value of properly engineering a car rather than simply throwing check-list hardware pieces at a performance model and expecting good results.

Image source: Ford Motor Co.

Dan Carney is a Design News senior editor, covering automotive technology, engineering and design, especially emerging electric vehicle and autonomous technologies.

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