Contrary to doom and gloom your hearing in the national media about the plight of the auto industry, there are many, many good news stories taking place.

Yes, times are hard.

But the sky is not falling.

One of the biggest stories you probably havenít heard about is going on Dearborn, Mich., corporate headquarters to Ford Motor Company.

If you havenít heard, Ford DID NOT take federal bailout money. Additionally, Ford is not in bankruptcy protection nor are they contemplating such measures.

What Ford is doing is churning out some of the best automobiles the UAW has ever produced.

Its state-of-the-art, high-tech vehicles are gaining global attention for fuel economy, styling, functionality and affordability.

And not just for trucks and SUVs ó cars, too.

†If you havenít visited a Ford dealership lately, itís well worth a stop on the way home from work to see for yourself.

Which brings me to this weekís review, the 2010 Ford Shelby GT500.

Yes, this is the limited-edition halo Pony Car from Fordís SVT performance division and it was my turn on the media rotation.

Lucky me.

The new 540 horsepower GT500 ó which just hit Ford SVT dealerships ó is more powerful, more fuel efficient and absolutely amazing.

While engineers tweaked the engine to deliver more power and improve fuel economy by 2 mpg, the big news for 2010 is the gearbox enhancements.

WOW!

While this is a high-performance super car, the refinements have made this a vehicle you could drive everyday.

Yes, the power is there when you need or want it. On demand. If you are so inclined, the g-forces will literally throw you back in the leather bucket seat with the side bolsters hugging your ribs.

But only when you want it.

What I like best about the 2010 GT500 is how comfortable it is to drive in everyday driving conditions.

You donít have to work to keep it at the speed limit. Unless you hit the gas, itís just like driving a Mustang GT.

But if you want the power, boy, is it there in abundance.

And, it has a base price starting around $46,000.

Pretty darn good for a 540 horsepower muscle car that gets 22 mpg.

Itís also very nicely equipped. Standard features include Ford Sync voice-activated and hands-free communication and entertainment system; 911 Assist which automatically places a call to the nearest 911 system should the airbag deploy; Vehicle Health Report, which gathers information from the major vehicle control modules and packages diagnostic data which can be sent to Ford via a cell phone paired with the vehicle; Ambient Lighting System with MyColor that allows the driver to customize the interior lighting of the vehicle to suit their mood and features seven basic colors.

Itís also loaded with safety features including stability control system with several options for performance; anti-lock brakes, dual stage front airbags; side-impact airbags and Fordís personal Safety System, to name but a few.

The rear-wheel drive GT500 is also available in coupe and convertible body styles.

Like I said, itís one honey of a vehicle capable of dominating the track, yet easily adjusts to everyday driving needs.

And while the GT500 is hot, itís only the tip of the iceberg. You ought to see the rest of the cars in Fordís lineup.

Neal White has been covering the automotive industry for 20 years and is affiliated with the Texas Auto Writers Association and the Midwest Automotive Media Association.

THE NUTS AND BOLTS

MODEL:

2010 Ford Shelby GT500

4-seat coupe

or convertible†

Rear-wheel drive

PRICE RANGE:

$47,000-55,000

ENGINE:

5.4-L supercharged V-8† (540 horsepower/510 torque)

TRANSMISSION:

Tremec 6-speed manual with 3.55 rear axle ratio

EPA: 14 mpg city, 22 mpg highway

FUEL: Premium unleaded

SUSPENSION:† Independent MacPherson strut with ďReverse LĒ lower control arm, 34 mm stabilizer bar (front); Three-link solid axle with coil springs, Panhard rod, 24 mm stabilizer bar, twin-tube gas shocks (rear).

TRACTION

CONTROL:

AdvanceTrac electronic stability control system

BRAKES: ABS

LENGTH: 188.2 inches

WHEELBASE: 107.1 in.

WIDTH: 73.9 inches

HEIGHT: 54.5 inches

WEIGHT: 3,924 lbs. (coupe), 4,014 lbs. (convt.)

TRACK: 61.9/62.5

(front/rear)

FUEL TANK: 16 gallons

TIRES: 18-, or 19-inch

STANDARD: Shaker 500 audio system with Sirius Satellite Radio, remote keyless entry with trunk release, decklid spoiler, et. al.