The list of legendary Ford Mustangs is a long one. And debates about who belongs at the top of that list will go on forever. Well, time to make room for one more on the debate stage, as the most powerful street-legal Ford ever, has a few points to make. Let’s find out if a new Shelby GT500 earns our vote.
You may not realize that the Shelby GT500 has been missing from the Ford Mustang lineup for 6-years. And you may not even care that this 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is the most powerful street-legal Ford ever. But we sure as heck care; as do Mustang faithful the world over.
When Ford first announced the return of this beast, they claimed it’s supercharged V8 would make more than 700-horsepower. Well, they’ve delivered that, and then some.
Yes, it starts out as the same dual overhead cam aluminum 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V8 as found in the GT350. But, before it leaves the Romeo engine plant; it gets a traditional cross-plane crankshaft, structural reinforcements, and a big ol’ 2.7-liter supercharger nestled between its cylinder heads. The results are 760-horsepower and 625 lb-ft. of torque.
Exhaust is channeled through new 2¾-inch dual-cat stainless piping, to a set of four polished exhaust tips.
Keep in mind, that the most horsepower you can get in a Camaro, is the ZL1’s 650, not to mention the new Corvette everyone’s talking about only puts out 495. Yeah, remember way back in 2015 when the Hellcat’s 707-horsepower seemed insane?
Now, what may seem even crazier to some, is that there’s no traditional manual transmission available. Its standard 7-speed dual-clutch automatic is just one of many items finding their way into this Mustang from Ford’s GT racing team. Complain if you must, but unless you can shift gears in 80-milliseconds, you’ll be better off letting the car do it for you.
Racing engineers also added their aero knowledge to this 6th generation ‘stang’s body.
There’s 50% more airflow through the front compared to the GT350. More through the hood as well; serving dual roles of extracting hot air, as well as increasing downforce.
The front fenders needed reshaping, in order to house new wider 20-inch wheels; and both the rear spoiler and diffuser have been reinforced as well.
The Carbon Fiber Track package swaps that spoiler for an adjustable wing, adds a front splitter with wickers and integrated dive plane, and upgrades the wheels themselves to… you guessed it… carbon fiber.
Inside the cockpit is a standard 12-inch full-color LCD gauge cluster; but most other major departures from regular Mustang fair are optional. They include, carbon-fiber trim, suede materials, and Recaro racing seats.
And of course, there’s no shifter sticking out of the console; just a small rotary dial with manual shift paddles mounted on the steering wheel.
With your hands on that wheel, the GT500 feels like a big intimidating beast; which is just what most are looking for when they contemplate this end of the muscle car segment. Ride is firm, but not harsh, seats are comfy, there’s very little supercharger whine, and the transmission is smooth, staying mostly in the background.
And, if you live your life a ¼-mile at a time, that dual-clutch transmission, as well as Drag Mode with launch control, will help you get through the ¼ in less than 11.0-seconds. Ford claims 10.7, with a supercar-worthy trip to 60 in just 3.3-seconds. Rear axle ratio is 3.73, just like the GT350, and top speed is electronically limited to 180 miles-per-hour. We were only able to make a couple of quick passes, but ripped of an 11.2 at 128 miles-per-hour on just our second run.
Also much like that GT350, this Shelby is about much more than just ¼ miles. Ford’s racing engineers addressed the entire suspension to ensure that it’s the best handling Mustang ever, as well.
That means completely revised geometry throughout, upgraded coil springs front and rear, as well as an all-new electronic power steering unit. Not to mention next-gen MagnaRide and comprehensive track-focused drive modes; along with larger Brembo brakes and your choice of either custom Michelin Pilot Sport 4S’s or Sport Cup 2 tires.
Putting it to the test on the road course outside of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the difference from the last GT500 is night-and-day.
Steering the car with the throttle is an easy affair, but even with all of that horsepower it’s not overly tail-happy. Lots of grip from the Michelins, and brakes performed extremely well. No matter how late we braked, we never did find their limits.
Pricing starts at $73,995. We doubt that you can build a better Mustang for that price, no matter how many parts catalogs you have on your workbench.
Time will tell where this 2020 Shelby GT500 falls on the list of exceptionally entertaining Ford Mustangs. But, its place in our oil-pumping hearts is secure. It will take Ford, and everyone else, a long time to top it.
Engine: 5.2 liter
Torque: 625 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 3.3 seconds
1/4 mile: 11.2 seconds @ 128mph