“Eleanor gets new clothes!” The Mustang 2011!

It would be reasonable to expect that Ford might pass over the Mustang and instead devote more attention to its other models in its revamp for the 2010 model year. However, that’s not what is shaping up in the House That Henry Built.

For 2011, the Blue Oval is introducing a new 3.7-liter V6 Mustang that should give it the firepower and refinement needed to take on Chevrolet’s six-cylinder Camaro and Hyundai’s upstart Genesis Coupe. But it isn’t just the spanking all-aluminum powerplant and its 305 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque that’s making the scene for the forthcoming model year. In addition to the Cleveland-sourced mill, there are a pair of fresh gearboxes, a new V6 performance package, and a host of nip/tucks to the interior and elsewhere.

Now, we could grouse on behalf of 2010 MY ‘Stang owners everywhere that these upgrades weren’t part of last year’s mid-life updo, but instead, we’ll just be happy that these advancements are arriving at all.

Despite being smaller than the outgoing 4.0-liter V6, the dual-overhead cam 3.7-liter’s horsepower and torque ratings represent massive improvements over the 2010 model (305 HP dismisses 210 HP and 280 lb-ft. plays 240 torques). In fact, that’s more horsepower than the 4.6-liter V8 Mustang made just a few years ago.

While the 305-horse figure only allows the Mustang to pip the crosstown Camaro by a single all-important stallion in the pony car bragging wars, Ford says the powertrain will be good for 30 miles-per-gallon on the highway when paired with its new six-speed automatic, also one notch better than the Chevy.

That impressive fuel economy figure isn’t just the result of the new engine — a suite of new pieces have been developed in order to maximize performance, including a revised air intake, a pair of new six-speed transmissions (both automatic and manual), electric power steering, and even some aerodynamic tidying, including a revised front fascia, deeper front air dam, rear-wheel tire spats, different underbody shields, and a new rear decklid seal…

And to help celebrate the 45th anniversary of the first Shelby Mustang, Shelby America revealed its new 2011 Mustang GT350 at the opening night gala of Barrett-Jackson’s auction in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Based on the 2011 Mustang GT, all GT350s will add a supercharger to Ford’s new 5.0-liter V-8. Power figures haven’t been released quite yet, but Shelby says output is in the realm of 500 hp — approximately 88 hp more than a stock GT. All GT350s will come paired with Ford’s new six-speed manual transmission.

Along with the power upgrades, Shelby also has tweaked the Mustang’s chassis to help make the GT350 more nimble on the track. Front brakes receive a six-piston caliper upgrade kit from Baer, along with 14-inch rotors. Like the original GT350Rs from the late ’60s, the new car sports brake cooling ducts at all four corners. The suspension receives a full upgrade kit from Ford Racing, and includes adjustable caster/camber plates.

Of course, Shelby couples some show with the extra go. The new GT350 receives a new front fascia that reshapes the grille and lower air intake to resemble those on the original 1965 GT350. Out back, a blacked-out rear panel — along with discrete tail lamp partitions — further continues the retro connection.

Shelby hasn’t said how many of the 2011 GT350s will be built, but indicated that production would be “limited.” Pricing for the new GT350 starts at USD $33,995, which does not include the cost of a donor 2011 Mustang GT.

Overall, not bad, not bad. The Stylemeister can’t wait to take one out for a spin preferably through the scenic Highway One-oh-One – from LA, past the Big Sur and charging into ‘Frisco in thumping style.

Footnote:

I, the Stylemeister, flicked on the TV last night to two pleasant surprises:

1. Knight Rider – the quintessential 80s car show, has been resurrected – I loved that show … memories of the simpler  days when ‘Hoff’ reigned and Miami Vice ruled.

2. KITT Is The Shelby GT500KR Mustang. Talk about rockin’ my world!!!  … it didn’t even matter that the storyline was kinda rough round the edges and the green screen edging on the in-car shots visibly sucked, because next to ‘Top Gear’, this was cars-onscreen heaven for 60 minutes!

Over and out!

Images and copy excerpted from 2011-mustang.us/

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