A hooning machine. A dragstrip hero. A natural extension of the Mustang. The Shelby GT500 is many things, but if we had to describe it briefly, we’d say “power to the people”.
The Mustang Shelby GT500 was already bred this way, but with the 2013 model year, this became even more of a textbook definition for the notion of “muscle car” - you get 662 little mustangs running wild under the hood and you can have it all for fifty-five grand.
Since we live in a world where Santa Claus doesn’t actually exist (some may contradict us here), Ford engineers knew that kind of power requires one or two extra tweaks, possibly also outside the engine bay. And since they went at it, they transformed the GT500 to such an extent that, with a different body, this could very well be called a new model.
This Mustang has the potential to become the kind of car that helps you with writing the story of your life.
Something your children can talk about. Speaking of children, we are here to find out whether this 200 mph (322 km/h) Mustang is just a toy or if it manages to tickle your senses to a greater extent.
“Tickling” is the right word, at least for now, when the perfect grip of the cue ball gear shifter is mixed with its idle rattle. Time to play then.
It didn’t take too much time together for us to notice that the Mustang Shelby GT500 has quite a wow factor. From bus drivers to mothers picking up their children from school, the Shelby turns a lot of heads. It’s like everybody has become a car aficionado all of a sudden and they all obviously know the huge difference between our tester and a mere Mustang GT
We’re not sure how interested these people are in the exact visual changes brought by the latest transformation of the Shelby Mustang, but we’ll go into the details anyway.
The Shelby GT500 takes on the world bare chested - the radiator grille is gone, with the front fascia now being adorned with a superb piece of... nothing. Ford chose this path as the best for feeding the engine compartment with fresh air when the car is on the move. Shelby Cobra memories anybody?
Unlike the Shelby Cobra though, the GT500 does come with a few aerodynamic tricks. For instance, once the air enters that big mouth, a part of it goes into new ducts that help provide downforce. That massive splitter was already there before the 2013 model year and the LED strips in the headlights are shared with the rest of the range.
For the next set of changes we’ll go behind the car. This is where we find the revamped Mustang’s LED taillights in all their retroness. Vertically speaking, the extremities of the rear end are new. At the top we have a spoiler that’s not exactly small, while the lower valance accommodates some sexy quadruple exhaust tips. No butterfly valves here through, this is a good old performance exhaust.
Oh and let’s not forget about the snake badges sprinkled all over the car. Now that you’ve seen these as well, it’s time to head inside the vehicle, where the differences to a normal ‘Stang are much smaller.
It doesn’t matter from which angle you approach the cabin, the pair of bucket Recaro seats will steal your attention.
These look just right for the car and once you get to know each other, you’ll discover their aggression is just visual. The Recaro units are surprisingly comfortable and can be your friends no matter how long the trip is.
The cool shifter we mentioned in the intro is matched with an even better steering wheel. That swede on the rim not only looks good, but also offers supreme grip. This is attached to a steering that offers three levels of assistance. The feedback is decent, and we usually found ourselves in either “Comfort” or “Normal”, as “Sport” just seems to add unnecessary weight to the setup.
As you settle in, the instrument cluster’s contents promise a nice set of treats. The speedo isn’t shy about taking its scale up to 220 mph (322 km/h) and the amusing part is that this isn’t even too far from the truth. 200 mph (354 km/h), actually.
The story is pretty similar with the rev counter, which only lies by 1,000 rpm. The pumped-up V8 redlines at 6,250 rpm and when you hit this value you notice the SVT magical letters light up. Don’t worry though, there’s an over-rev feature allowing you to push things to 7,000 rpm, but you’ll be brought back to normal after 8 seconds.
The 4.2-inch display between the two aforementioned instruments is like a personal assistant, with its info ranging from fuel efficiency to Ford’s Track Apps. This also allows the supercharger under the hood to tell you how much boost it’s generating.
That particular function is of little importance right now, as we’re trying to tackle the urban frenzy in the Mustang Shelby GT500. It’s not hard to imagine that the clutch requires a manly effort. Even those who drove the previous GT500 will notice this, since the clutch received a serious upgrade, along with the rest of the drivetrain. The dual-disc now measures 260 mm in diameter, a 10 mm increase, while the friction material was also changed, along with the elastic characteristics of the hardware.
The firm action is sweet, a nice hint on the car you have underneath you, but not in this kind of traffic. For instance, the Viper, which uses the same Tremec TR6060, albeit with its own implementation, is easier to launch in stop-and-go tango.
On the other hand, the steering and the suspension, both of which have become adaptive units that also allow you to choose between multiple settings, are nice colleagues. Another plus side? This remains a Mustang after all, which means that you receive good all-round visibility for a coupe.
Unfortunately, none of these good sides can overcome the Shelby GT500’s mechanical roughness.
Unless you pour differential oil over your pancakes for breakfast, this Mustang is pretty far from being a good daily driver.
That thought is somewhere way behind us now and it’s all the fault of an infamous villain couple. We’re not sure who wears the pants here, but the 5.8-liter aluminum block V8 and the Eaton Twin Vortices supercharger make one hell of a pair. As a fun fact, we’ll mention that the blower requires about the same amount of power that was produced by a 4th generation Mustang V6.
The end result is a motor that pulls so well you’ll get firmly pressed into those Recaros even in sixth gear.
The GT500 acts like your typical snake. It wants to bite all the time and its favorite means of getting around usually involves slithering. Even with the traction control on, it’s easy to release the smokey side of this Mustang.
By the way, the electronics offer four levels of intervention. If you go for the last one, which friends call “Off”, you can break traction up to and including third gear. The surprising part is not the aforementioned behavior, but the fact that this is what Ford engineers understand by a softer setup - they chose this as the more manageable version while developing the vehicle.