If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to drive an American muscle car with enough horsepower to move a small continent, then Shelby American may have the answer. At the New York International Auto Show on April 5th, Carroll Shelby and his team will present their most powerful car to date - the 952 bhp Shelby 1000. And if that's not enough grunt, there’s a track version with over 1,100 bhp. Not a bad way to celebrate 50 years since the unveiling of the first Shelby Cobra.

The Shelby 1000 is Ford Mustang conversion based on a 2012 Ford Shelby GT500. At 950 bhp, it has 200 horses more than the next most-powerful Shelby in the stable - the GT500 Super Snake. This was achieved by taking the 550 bhp Ford Shelby GT500’s 5.4 liter V8 and stripping it right down to the basic block. It was then rebuilt with new rods, cranks and pistons, the heads flowed, the cooling and exhausts upgraded and the fuel lines enlarged to feed the thirsty engine, which is fitted with a choice of a Kenne Bell 3.6-litre or Whipple 4.0-litre supercharger. Hooked to this is a new solid aluminum drive shaft connected to a new nine-inch rear end. The suspension has been treated with new struts, sway bars and bushings and overall handling and stopping capabilities improved by splitting six pistons in front and four pistons in the rear. Finally it was, according to Shelby American, “sprinkled it with a little Shelby magic.”

Magic, perhaps, but some of it is digital. Thanks to the number of computers that modern cars now use, Shelby’s team were able to not just tune the car’s engine, they could tune each individual piston. This is important not only because it allows Shelby to get the most out of the Shelby 1000, but with so much power on tap, it was vital to keep it under proper control. This was illustrated on the test track when a computer glitch sent the car into reverse at a speed of 148 mph.

Despite all this raw power and cutting edge engineering, the Shelby 1000 is deceptive. From the outside, it looks like a Ford Mustang with a bit of aerodynamic tweaking and this is just the way Shelby American want it - stealth is the style. I suppose that means that the idea is to leave people goggle-eyed when the stoplight turns green.

Carroll Shelby has been building high-performance parts and modifying cars since 1962 and his wins on racetracks around the world have made him his own one-man car genre.

“Carroll Shelby is a visionary who has pushed the boundaries of performance his entire life," says John Luft, president of Shelby American. "He challenged the Shelby American team to develop the Shelby 1000 and wanted to unveil this amazing new Shelby at the New York Auto Show celebrating 50 years since he unveiled the very first Shelby Cobra that changed the face of high performance. We will have that very car, Cobra #1 (CSX2000) along with Shelby 1000 on display in our Shelby American booth in New York.”

The performance figures for the Shelby 1000 are still under wraps, but it seems certain that it will be in the “goes like a stabbed rat” category. However, this doesn’t come cheap. The price tag for the Shelby 1000 is US$149,995 and you need to bring your own 2012 Ford Shelby GT500 that lists for $48,810, so you're looking at a total of $200,000.

You also have to get in fast because only 100 are going to be built. Shelby American will be accepting orders after the unveiling on April 5, 2012.

The unveiling is also the company's first real chance to wipe out the memory of recent embarrassing publicity after it was discovered that some images (apparently released in error) showing the Shelby 1000 raising its front wheels off the tarmac were doctored.

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