News: 2015 Shelby GT350 Shift Light

If you have ever been in a racing environment, you know that you rarely have precious time to look down at the tachometer. By tweaking its Collision Avoidance heads-up display technology, Ford created a HUD Performance Shift Indicator for the new Shelby GT350.

Shifty Business

The new Shelby GT350 features a heads-up display shift light

By Steve Turner
Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company

If you have driven a modern Ford with the Collision Avoidance system, you may have seen the warning light flash above the dash if you are approaching another car too quickly. This system warns you to get on the brakes to avoid a crash, but Ford engineers adapted the technology to offer the new halo Mustang a Performance Shift Indicator light.

If you have ever been in a racing environment, you know that you rarely have precious time to look down at the tachometer. By tweaking its Collision Avoidance heads-up display technology, Ford created a HUD Performance Shift Indicator for the new Shelby GT350.
If you have ever been in a racing environment, you know that you rarely have precious time to look down at the tachometer. By tweaking its Collision Avoidance heads-up display technology, Ford created a HUD Performance Shift Indicator for the new Shelby GT350.

“Given the conditions of a drag race, we found drivers wanted maximum simplicity in a performance shift light,” Mike Makled, electrical engineer for Shelby programs, said.

If you aren’t familiar with the Collision Avoidance display it uses LEDs to bounce light off the reflective surface of the windshield to deliver that heads-up display. The wheels started spinning when Mike saw it in action on the Taurus SHO. When the idea struck him to create a shift light with this technology, he turned the project over to then-Ford Corporate Graduate Zac Nelson, who used OpenXC to facilitate the project.

Using the display in the gauge cluster and controls on the steering wheel you can chose between Tach, Track, and Drag modes.
Using the display in the gauge cluster and controls on the steering wheel you can chose between Tach, Track, and Drag modes.

“I like taking things apart, modifying how they work and creating new things,” Mike added. “It’s a hobby.”

As a result of that hobby, Mike and Zac worked to create a prototype. Then they partnered with suppliers to generate a production version for the Shelby GT350 and GT350R. Thanks to Mike’s clever idea all GT350 drivers now benefit from a system that offers three different modes—Tach, Track, and Drag.

You can watch the system in action right here…

After choosing your mode, you can set the shift point, adjust the light intensity, and even the volume of a shift tone.
After choosing your mode, you can set the shift point, adjust the light intensity, and even the volume of a shift tone.

In Tach mode the display’s LEDs light up sequentially from left to right as rpm builds, providing and easily seen tach. If you are hitting the road course, you’ll want to engage Track mode, which lights the LEDs from both sides toward the middle. When they meet, the whole bar flashes so you know it’s time to shift. In what will likely be it’s most popular setting—Drag mode—the Performance Shift Indicator simply flashes when you hit the preset shift point.

“All of our drivers love this feature,” Mike said. “They can’t believe how much it reduces the distraction of having to look away to a tach or a shift light in the cluster.”

You can set the shift point as low as 3,000 rpm and as high as the Voodoo 5.2’s redline at 8,200 rpm.
You can set the shift point as low as 3,000 rpm and as high as the Voodoo 5.2’s redline at 8,200 rpm.
You can even adjust the brightness of the HUD shift light so it’s not too distracting while you race.
You can even adjust the brightness of the HUD shift light so it’s not too distracting while you race.

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