Two Massive Reveals Coming in 2019
If you've been paying attention in 2018, you probably already know that there are two significant cars that are anticipated to be revealed in 2019. The first one - the game changer - is the next generation Chevrolet Corvette, which is anticipated to be mid-engine for the first time in over 65 years and after 7 generations of being front engine. Chevrolet hasn't confirmed this car yet, but the evidence pointing to a mid-engine Corvette is abundant. The second one is the Mustang Shelby GT500. Ford has actually confirmed that this car is coming and has revealed some teaser videos and pictures.
In the interest of full disclosure, when they will be revealed isn't guaranteed. There is good reason to believe the 2019 North American Auto Show (often referred to as the Detroit Auto Show) in just two weeks will host the debut of the GT500. Why the 2019 Detroit Auto Show? It is one of the biggest auto shows for Ford. Ford decided to reveal its Ford GT at the same show three years ago in 2015, and also threw in the current Shelby GT350R and the current F-150 Raptor for good measure. The Detroit Show is also big for GM. It revealed the current Cadillac CTS V in 2015 and a year prior (i.e. in 2014) revealed the C7 Corvette Z06 and the C7.R Corvette race car.
Everyone was expecting the mid-engine Corvette to be revealed at the show, but Chevrolet stated that it will not debut any cars there according to a GM Authority report a few weeks ago. The new Shelby GT500 is still anticipated there, though so I'll start with the more obvious one.
Mustang Shelby GT500
The Shelby GT500 has already been confirmed by Ford and teased in a couple of pictures and videos. The first Shelby GT500 was a 1967 model and it was developed with help from the legend himself, Carroll Shelby. Because of Shelby's personal involvement in racing at the time, the original Shelby GT500 was actually meant to be a track monster, not only a straight line car. It used a a modified version of the massive 427 cu.in. (cubic inch - 7.0 litre) naturally aspirated V8 Shelby developed for the original GT40 to win at Le Mans. Several (functional) aerodynamic bits were added and a bunch of body parts were made out of fibreglass to save weight.
Ford sold Mustang Shelby GT500's for only a couple more years back then, ending production in 1969. That hallowed Shelby GT500 name didn't return to the Mustang lineup until the 5th generation (code named S197) in 2007 - a full 40 years after the original. But by that time, it had a lazier supercharged V8 making a nice and round 500 hp. No attempt to save weight was made at the time and, although it handled very competently for something weighing nearly 2 tonnes with a solid rear axle, it was much more of a Grand Tourer and a straight line bruiser than a track honed machine (not to say it couldn't be enjoyed on track...).
By the end of its production run in 2014, the S197 Shelby GT500 had gone through a couple of refreshes and engine changes, and it made a monstrous 662 hp out of a supercharged 5.8 litre V8. Although it still handled well for what it was, it was still very much a bruiser. This time, though, I think it'll be different.
The headline for this car is "700+ hp" so we know that all is still well at Ford and huge hp numbers haven't died yet. Chances are, it will be higher than the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, which makes 707 hp in the "standard version" (there is now a Redeye version making 797 hp, because 707 hp isn't enough). That said, the GT500 should be approx. 200 kg (400+ lb.) lighter than the Challenger so it shouldn't need as much hp. Ford already confirmed that a hybrid Mustang is coming in 2020 that will be more efficient than a V8 so this will likely use a traditional powertrain running on nothing but dinosaur juice.
Rumour has it, it will be a supercharged version of the GT350 5.2 litre V8, but it might switch back to a traditional cross-plane crankshaft here instead of the flat-plane crankshaft that helps the naturally aspirated GT350 version rev to over 8,200 rpm. A manual gearbox is probably guaranteed, but it will likely be offered with an automatic as an option, the 10-speed auto already used on the Mustang GT; a first for a GT500.
However, while the last GT500 came with hopelessly undersized 265-section front and 285-section rear tires, Ford hasn't shied away from wide tires recently. The Shelby GT350R, for instance, uses 305-section front and 315-section rear tires. Moreover, the bits Ford teased so far appear to show functional aero bits such as a front splitter and a very good size pedestal spoiler similar to the one on the track-special Shelby GT350R. Finally, Ford now uses the same sort of magnetorheological dampers that cars like the Corvette, Ferrari 488, Audi R8, etc. in the relatively pedestrian Mustang GT, so it'll likely be offered here as well and allow the GT500 to be reasonably comfortable on the road and transform into a pavement pounding machine at the press of a button. It certainly won't be a track car. That's the GT350R's job. But I suspect that all of this will make this the best handling and most composed GT500 ever (by far).
Our best sneak peak yet comes from Ford's video below:
The first mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette
I won't talk a whole lot about what to expect on the mid-engine Corvette. Although it might seem like I'm short changing the Corvette, I actually have an exhaustive post just for it detailing the best (educated) guesses so far at what it might come equipped with. You can read all about it here.
This car is a bit more of a wild card because General Motors has yet to confirm that a mid-engine Corvette is actually in development, let alone confirm anything like engine choices, hp figures, etc. Moreover, because a mid-engine Corvette will no doubt cost more than the front-engine version we've come to know, it will most likely cost more and move upmarket. That could mean that GM might choose to reveal the car at a more global auto show in Europe, such as the Geneva auto show in March, if not later in the year.
Although nothing is confirmed, a few things are expected. It will come packed with active suspension, drivetrain (electronic differential) and aero technology. And in addition to being the first mid-engine Corvette, it will likely be the first Corvette to offer a dual clutch automatic and turbocharging in place of a supercharger to boost its V8 engine option(s).
Speaking of engine options, anything developed for the current market will probably allow for smaller engines and hybrid technology at some point like the new Porsche 911 (992), but I suspect it will be launched without a hybrid system. It will likely be offered at first with the first Dual OverHead Cam (DOHC) V8 in a Corvette since the 1990 4th generation (C4) Corvette ZR1, which was co-developed with Lotus. If you haven’t yet, you can read all about the mid-engine Corvette here.
Like the Shelby GT500, our best look yet comes in a video, except this one is a spy video of a prototype testing. The video shows the design very clearly (albeit, covered in camouflage) but, to make up for that, you can hear it in all its V8 glory on testing on the Nurburgring (of course).
I'm probably looking forward to those two cars more than any other in 2019, let alone at the Detroit/North American Auto show in two weeks, unless Porsche drops a bomb on everyone and reveals a 718 Cayman GT4 this year. What about you? Are there cars you are looking forward to more in 2019? Let me know below!
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