Ford’s annual presence at the Detroit Motor Show cannot be overstated. Even in its most unremarkable years, but company was always a fixture at their home state’s premier automotive event, commanding the attention of the entire audience in attendance over comparatively drab announcements. Then again, a lot of things pale in comparison to the new Shelby Mustang GT500.
So far, it’s exactly what we were expecting it to be, both with regard to its exterior and expected capabilities. This stunning new machine is now the flagship in Ford Performance’s mass production arsenal; the fastest Mustang ever and the most powerful street-legal car the company will have put on sale to date.
Ironic, then, that despite seeing it in the flesh and having every detail physically on display, there’s some yawning gaps in what we know about the car. In that sense, not much has changed. We already had reliable information that the car would resemble a GT350R albeit with an altered fascia to scoop more air into its engine bay. The bonnet vents are also partially removable for better air extraction and increased downforce.
Within that cavity would be an absurdly supercharged version of the high-revving Voodoo 5.2-litre V8 said to produce over 700hp (522kW), but even today post-unveil, Ford has not disclosed this exact figure, nor have they alluded to how much torque this engine is capable of producing. Speaking of which, it seems the GT500 omits the flat-plane crank in favour of a cross-plane design, meaning the GT350R’s soundtrack will not be reproduced here backed by a 2.65-litre roots-type supercharger choir, unfortunately.
Drive will be channeled through a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission developed by Tremec, used in the enabling ferociously fast shifts of less than 100 milliseconds, reaching the rear wheels via a carbon fibre driveshaft. Standard tyres are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S produced specifically for the GT500, with a more track-oriented Pilot Sport Cup 2 with unique compound and tread pattern.
Apart from sheer power, though, Ford also claims the GT500 will be capable of accelerating to 60mph (96km/h) in around 3.5 seconds while also running a sub-11 second quarter mile run in addition to a chassis that’s as highly talented in the corners, benefitting from technologies taken from the Mustang GT4 racing programme and the Ford GT supercar.
“Carroll was always working on the next faster Shelby, I think he would love this Mustang more than any other,” said Jim Farley, Ford president, global markets. “A takedown artist, the new Shelby GT500 will surprise supercar owners with its Ford Performance racing tech, supercharged engine and visceral swagger.”
Two handling packages with increasing levels capability are offered for the all-new Shelby GT500. An available Handling Package includes adjustable strut top mounts and spoiler with Gurney flap. Secondly, the Carbon Fibre Track Package features exposed 20-inch carbon fibre wheels with 0.5-inch-wider rear wheels (11.5-inch), the aforementioned custom Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, adjustable exposed carbon fibre GT4 track wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive plane. The rear seat is deleted to reduce weight.
As was leaked just a day prior, the GT500 will also come with a healthy list of standard equipment, ranging from a 12-inch digital instrument cluster, SYNC3 via an 8-inch touchscreen, and premium materials. Optionally, buyers can also have fitted a Bang & Olufsen 12-speaker stereo, exposed carbon fibre panel inserts, and Recaro racing seats.