By on October 30, 2012

Jackie is the first girl to fawn over the Shelby GT500 once it’s in my hands. Hadn’t expected that; make no mistake, it is a dude magnet without exception and the double-X-chromosome crowd usually goes for something cuter. Jackie appears to be the exception, so far. She’ll tell you she’s a bit of a tomboy. She likes cars, long boarding, and gangsta rap. Tonight, she’s traded her usual, Ralph Lauren-catalog attire (not-so-snug pants, a button up men’s dress shirt) for a dress that can only be described as one yard of Tensor Bandage that somehow made its way out of the factory with a muted floral print.

I’m hardly complaining, though it’s clear that she’s not used to wearing this kind of garment. I tell myself that it’s all because of my strong jawline, cleft chin and thick, flowing locks, but that’s a yarn of self-deception long enough to knit Jackie a twin to the sweater I’m glad she left at home.

It’s the car.

Jackie is comfortable looking at brake calipers and superchargers, but the dress is fighting her attempts to check out the machinery tonight. “Turn around,” she tells me, “I don’t want you to see me adjusting my underwear”.

“That dress is ridiculous.” I’m trying really hard to do the gentlemanly thing and focus on the car.

A pause. I’m facing away from her, but I can imagine her eyes running along the length of the racing stripes that trace the Shelby’s sillhouette. The car isn’t running, but I can hear the crackling and pinging of the cooling drivetrain against the humid, lifeless air of the August night.

“Not as ridiculous as the car,” she replies. “How fast did you say it is?”

Five point eight liters. Six hundred and sixty-two horsepower. There’s not much out there that’s more powerful than the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500. The Lamborghini Aventador. The Ferrari FF. Maybe one or two megabuck hypercars that will be gobbled up by our BRIC-nation overlords.

Jackie and I will not go much faster tonight than we just did. A quick blast into “lose your license” territory occurs in 3rd gear at around 3000 RPM – there is still so much power left on the table, I feel…impotent. “That did not feel like [exact speed redacted],” Jackie says, with the sort of contempt usually reserved for a prom night that’s come to a premature conclusion.

In 2012, where “green” is our secular religion, “carbon emissions” are a mortal sin and we worship at the altar of sustainability while flagellating ourselves about everything from our consumption habits to our role in the world, it truly is a miracle, in the most theistic sense of the word, that this car exists. A supercharged V8, a 6-speed gearbox, a 200 mph top speed, 10 mpg in town and an aesthetic so jingoistic it would make even the most ardent soaring-eagles-America-firster wonder if it needs toning down. If President Obama is forever identified with the Chevrolet Volt, then this car is Pat Buchanan’s likely chariot, a swift exit from the Nixon Administration into the severe right wing with all cylinders firing seven thousand times a minute. And yet, somehow, somewhere at Ford World Headquarters, someone approved this for production.

And still, it is thoroughly modern. A trip to Mosport, 60 miles away on the freeway, in 6th gear at 80 mph with the A/C blasting, returned 25 mpg. I played my music through my iPod via the dreadful touch-screen SYNC system (which I am unapologetic in declaring it to be the bastard spawn of Satan. It is awful, always has been, always will be, and it never, ever works for me). The 2013 model is an enormous improvement over the last one I drove, a 2011 that made “only” 550 horsepower. Despite being down over 100 horsepower over the 2013 GT500, that car was an absolute bastard to drive. As I wrote back in 2010

The new car leaves it in the dust. The 2013 Shelby doesn’t pop its booty sideways like the old car did. The new tires and improved traction control see to that. It just gallops forward while the exhaust bellows like a scalded silverback gorilla. There’s not even any audible supercharger noise. But what the hell am I supposed to do with it? Giving me the keys to this car is like Ford asking me to come shoot tin cans in their back yard, with the stipulation that I can only use a Stinger missle to knock them down. It is so powerful in any gear that anyone that needs to be passed is just vaporized by the omnipotent V8.

And this is ultimately what makes the Shelby GT500 so compelling, especially to “the generation that doesn’t care about cars”. The performance is astounding but irrelevant. The styling can be had on a $22,000 Mustang V6. A better drive can arguably be had with a Boss 302. But nowhere else can you give such a middle finger to the zeitgiest. It doesn’t want to check in via Foursquare at the Mexican-Korean fusion place. It doesn’t care about Car Free Sundays, or dubstep music or the newest celebrity chef. Exploding away from a stop light, hanging out the window, with a cigarette between our lips, without fear of the cops, or fear of another day of indentured servitude unpaid internships, or having to compose a response to the latest text message from our significant other. Morals are relative, the middle class is shrinking, God is dead, our lives are lived in public, and a small part of us yearns for an era we never knew, where marriage, 2.5 kids, and a mortgage was not only attainable, but attained early.  We’ve never had more freedom or opportunities, but we still find ourselves yearning for a past era, where things weren’t as fluid or permissive; it’s why we throw “Mad Men” themed dress-up parties where the guys get a free pass to make misogynistic remarks, pinch the girls’ rears and watch them giggle with guilty glee as they hand out baked treats and push feminism into the attics of their psyche.

The orgiastic past may recede before us, but this car – our one link to that bygone epoch – keeps getting better and better.

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61 Comments on “Capsule Review: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Kreindler channels Baruth…

    Cept Baruth would have figured out how to watch her adjust in the reflection of the cars finish.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …nice piece…

    (i believe the word you wanted was ‘omnipotent’)

  • avatar
    daiheadjai

    Hmmm…. I’m a product of the ’80s and I don’t know what “dubstep” is.
    Should I find out?
    If I find out, will I regret it?

    I applaud Ford for making crazy things like this.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      You will regret it. I love electronic music and chill-out in general, but I still can’t even stand the sound of dubstep.

      Plenty of it on youtube. Let me know how long you last before you take an icepick to your ears.

    • 0 avatar
      ...m...

      …can i post URLs here?..append QodrSfsboFk after the v= at the end of a youtube URL…

    • 0 avatar
      philadlj

      Dunno if you watch TV, but both the new Internet Explorer and Lexus ES ads employ dubstep beats. Wiki describes the genre (born in 1998) as “tightly coiled productions with overwhelming bass lines and reverberant drum patterns, clipped samples, and occasional vocals.”

      • 0 avatar
        joe_thousandaire

        Just cup your hands over your ears and say “wha-wha-wha wub-wub-wub” repeatedly if you want to hear what dubstep sounds like.

      • 0 avatar
        daveainchina

        Sounds just like going to a modern disco to me. /shrug. More a continuation of the deconstruction types of music, seems to be almost a logical progression from house/trance/industrial music.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      If you enjoy the sound a modem makes when it connects to dial up service then you will love dubstep.

    • 0 avatar
      Mr Nosy

      Dubstep,feh!Back in my day, we listened to Throbbing Gristle and Einstuerzende Neubauten.It proved very useful in giving neighbors a hint to turn down the acid house mixtape.You can check out comedy duo Key & Peele’s dubstep skit on the Youtube,it pretty much sums it up.

  • avatar
    Larry P2

    This throwback dinosaur of a car apparently gets dramatically better gas mileage than a BMW M5, yet has over 100 more horsepower.

    (Insert snide mullet with big-haired girlfriend remark here)

  • avatar
    el scotto

    “And yet, somehow, somewhere at Ford World Headquarters, someone approved this for production.” I like to think they were smiling as they approved it

  • avatar
    ringomon

    Interesting write-up, and undoubtedly an awesome machine, but I question how great a middle finger this is to the the cycle of unpaid internship and lost middle class dreams of current youth when it costs what, 55k to start?

    Rather than be compelled, I think most of the people in that “zeitgeist” you speak of would scoff at spending that kind of money on a car and think of all the living they could do with that money.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      “all the living they could do with that money.”

      Make rent for a year?

      Have you priced out a) a “real” super car? b) living in a city?

      • 0 avatar
        ringomon

        I’m not talking about the value vs. the money for the car. You’re misreading me.

        Derek says the car is “compelling… to the generation that doesn’t care about cars”

        I’m saying anyone that doesn’t care about cars would be much more compelled by a 15k car with great mileage, decent modern looks, and adaptability to their lifestyle. If they had the extra cash, they’d live somewhere nicer or take some trips, eat better food, take some classes. Do you think people with unpaid internships don’t think that a years worth of rent is a big deal?

        It’s not the comparison versus a real super car. It’s the comparison with a car that has 2x practicality at 1/4th the cost.

        I get Derek’s point I guess. It’s a fantasy car in that it’s so completely impractical for someone just starting out that you’d have to have a lot of throwaway cash to even consider it; which is fun to think about when you’re eating ramen noodles wondering how you’re going to cover your 1/3rd of the rent this month. But how is that any different from any other unobtainable expensive car? Don’t see what’s unique about this one to the non-car person.

  • avatar
    Junebug

    Sorry – I was day dreaming about a party where you can pinch girls butts……oh – there was a car, ok, nice color!

  • avatar
    FJ60LandCruiser

    I don’t know what’s the target demographic of this car.

    If I’m about to drop 60 large, a racous, “look at me!”, impractical two ton Viagra pill isn’t really all that appealing–no matter how fast or loud.

    I’d get an M3, or something equally refined because the snorting and shouting that gets car blog writers moist gets old after owning the car for a week or two and you suddenly start to care about ride quality, cabin noise, seat comfort, an interior that doesn’t look like a recycled pickup’s.

    I don’t care if it’s got 1000 horsepower, because I’d have to live with it. And if you didn’t plan on using it as DD, or even a once or twice a weekly driver, you’d just have wasted the money on a very pretty garage queen.

    If I wanted a Mustang, I’d get a Boss. Hell, for the price–maybe get a Boss AND a convertible and have a track car and a weekend car.

    • 0 avatar
      Wabbit3

      “impractical two ton Viagra pill” – Someone needs to compensate you for this line, I’m trying not to bust out laughing across the office…

      In all honesty, I agree. When I was first getting my license, ahem, a while ago, the Mustang had once again become the thing all 16-year-old boys dreamed of. We were convinced that girls would love us and we would become street heros if we could just have a little fox-body with the 5.0, 5-speed, and louvers on the hatch. It even made over 200 horsepower! I still think of Mustangs this way. Now that I have a job and therefore a means to make the payment, I think I’d feel a little silly. But to have, say, a ’67, to paraphrase a great bad car movie, “you would not be a poseur, sir, you would be a connoisseur!”.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The exhaust would make me happy every time I fired it up, but that’s just me. There’s a whole gamut of go fast cars where I work. European rides with subtle badges, tuned and chipped Japanese, and American V-8′s who tastes run that. The meme seems to be I wanted one and bought it. Good enough reasoning for me. Impractical two ton Viagra pill is funny.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      “I’d get an M3, or something equally refined because…” I am not compensating for anything! Really! I’ll whip it out right now if you don’t believe me!

      • 0 avatar
        FJ60LandCruiser

        I don’t think that anything screams overcompensation more than a 60 thousand dollar Viagra Blue ‘stang. Maybe if GM brought back the Trans-Am in black and Mellow Gold with a screaming chicken on the hood and a dash mounted doobie holder.

        You can just see the aging, recently divorced, pot-bellied Ford service manager cruising around the local community college revving it in hopes of getting the girls to look at him–even though chicks these days are into the emaciated carbon neutral hipster guy with the socialist blog, fixie bicycle, and skinny jeans.

        Cars like this are meant for autojournalists. They remind us that Ford still can make a Mustang that isn’t for an 30something dental hygenist undergoing her lesbian phase.

        Few people wake up and think to themselves: “this is the day I’ll buy a 60 thousand dollar version of a 20 thousand dollar car.”

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        There are two in the parking lot where I work. One male driven, one female driven; both married. Most of the college women I know are much more worried about getting a job and making money. Tree hugging boy is usually left behind as another one of life’s lessons. The 60K version of a 20K car has 40k worth of upgrades.

    • 0 avatar
      01 ZX3

      The M3 is $70K version of a $30K car, what’s the difference?

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        —> start smartass comment end smartass comment <—

        In all honesty though, a 60k 600+hp Mustang is for Mustang nutwsingers like me, not the run of the mill car buyer, its more or less a thank you for being a big Mustang fan. There are enough of us out there for Ford to turn a profit on their halo car.

        In my area alone, I know of at least a dozen GT500 owners, and out of that bunch two and possibly more with a 2013 GT500s, the bulk tend to be the 2010-2012 cars with the balance being the 07-09 cars.

    • 0 avatar
      probert

      I gotta say that it’s just swapping one kind of a-holeness for another. oof

  • avatar
    JohnTheDriver

    This would have been the car of my dreams … when I was 16 years old. Oh, wait a minute, the ‘vette was the car of my dreams. Nevermind. I noticed you parked next to a 997, weren’t you afraid it would give you cooties?

    • 0 avatar
      Grumpy

      There was a huge market for this car forty years ago, when the boomers would have lusted after it–today I fear they are doomed to sell in very modest numbers to…who..I really don’t know. Maybe track wonks and engineers, but not the average young person.

      Now, the boomer bulge is all about where to best escape the winter, (Hawaii is best–I know), and their interest in driving runs more to turning the radio off, to avoid even a slight distraction that might encourage getting T-boned turning left across traffic.

      There is no real market for this car–but the girl is a whole other thing. Some things never change, and don’t need to..she has a brilliant future.

  • avatar
    ajla

    But is it too refined?

    The supercharged Mustangs of the past could be quite brutal, and I loved them for it, but it seems that attribute has been lost in this version.

  • avatar
    Synchromesh

    660hp is pretty impressive. But it just looks silly in a Mustang. It should be in something more classy. Even a Corvette would make more sense. Still, I’d much rather have something made in Japan.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Ford should have never built this car. Like Chrysler and GM, they should have created another level of car for a step above the pony car, mustangs still class compete with camaro and challenger, when what they need is a corvette/viper competitor.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I always thought that myself, it was so curious to me Ford never had a platform in direct competition with Corvette and Viper, instead they rev up their Mustang as Cobra/GT500 etc as competition.

    • 0 avatar
      faygo

      if the money is there to be made on high performance Mustang variants, investing in a unique plant/platform for something like Corvette or to a lesser extent, Viper (massively lower volumes) doesn’t make sense. Mustang is Ford, much like Corvette is Chevrolet, so another model hasn’t entered into the conversation too much, Ford GT notwithstanding. doing another GT program would be hard to imagine given the economics of it and the overall market conditions.

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      Image is everything. Rather than create a swoopy me-too sportscar that will get killed by the Corvette in the sales race, Ford is simply adding a supercharger to the Mustang and calling it a day.

      Granted, it’s much more cpmplicated than that, but at the end of the day, the lead-sled with the big-ass motor sells at a nifty profit, and Ford doesn’t have to pay to develop an all-new mid-engine chassis to make said profit.

      If you can paint a brick candy-blue and sell it. Why not? I’d buy one in a heartbeat if I had the money. Gray market GT500s are about as popular here as gray market Gallardos.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @Nickoo: All of these mfrs HAVE produced a car above the pony car, i.e., the Mustang GT, Camaro SS, etc. This is one of them, along with the Camaro ZL1 and the Challenger SRT8.

      Last month’s Motor Trend had a “Best Driver’s Car” 8-way comparison, with predictable results (Porsche 911 won). The thing that stood out in my mind was the fact that the $56,000 Camaro ZL1 matched or bested the $104,000 Mercedes C65 Black Series in many of their tests.

      The Shelby and the ZL1 placed above a Lambo Aventador and the new Jag coupe, but somehow below a BRZ… (WTF?) My point to all of this, is why do we still discuss these cars as competitors ONLY to another domestic in the North American market? Clearly their performance numbers indicate that they can go after the best in the world. Maybe not in terms of brand cachet or even build quality, but the raw numbers are there.

      • 0 avatar
        daiheadjai

        Re: BRZ – story was about “Driver’s car” and not “fastest” or “most ridiculously powerful”

        If you watched the video, there’s a nice drag race of all the cars at the end.

        Spoiler alert: The BRZ doesn’t win the drag race.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Ford history plays a factor here. Carroll Shelby, R.I.P., had a history with Ford. Billy Ford likes Mustangs, his vote counts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shelby_Mustang

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      Ford would have to do another GT40 run. The market with the vette and viper is much to saturated with regular production sports cars, frankly Ford would lose its arse on such an endeavor (not that I wouldn’t like to see it happen – I day dream continually about an affordable mid-engine sports car using the Boss motor and wearing a blue oval).

  • avatar

    When it comes to Street Cred this car has few peers, the Aventador being one of those few

  • avatar
    faygo

    “The new car leaves it in the dust. The 2013 Shelby doesn’t pop its booty sideways like the old car did. The new tires and improved traction control see to that.”

    2013 has same tires as the 2011/12 with Performance Package (which was pretty much all cars). traction control is not coming into effect most of the time, rather the change in gear ratios, both the diff and the transmission.

    the 2013 actually puts less torque to the ground in 1st gear than the 2011 does, but it’s faster because it has longer gearing and better control of that traction when it does slip the tires. it’s mentioned in this interview :
    http://www .youtube. com/watch ? v=X86dnnBGFkQ
    (take out spaces)

  • avatar
    8rings

    Is this car pratical, good on gas, right for the times? No. But it helps me sleep at night knowing that there are cars like this available for purchase. 663hp, 0-60 under 4 secs, all for 55k. Driving enthusiasm is dying in this country, day by day our manual transmissions, V8 engines, & summer tires are being replaced with CVTs, smaller FI engines, and low rolling resistance tires. As a car guy I give credit to Ford and any other make that produces a brash “FU” car.
    I recently purchased a Mustang 5.0 Track Pack. No, I am not a Mustang fan boy. In fact it is my first American car. I didn’t buy it to be noticed, or to pick up chicks, or to make a statement. I bought it because I have to sit through traffic for most of my commute. But then, for 12 miles at the end I get to run some spectacular back roads. Rev match downshifts, power out of corners at 7k rpms. Is it worth getting 20mpg rather than 32mpg. You bet! The GT500 is a little out of my price range, but if I could buy it I would. It would make getting my ass up for work at 5am every morning worth it.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      +1!!

      F*** all the negative comments, I am just happy this car exists. And hell yes I would buy one over an M3 or a GTR if I was spending that kind of coin on a car.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Nicely written, and come on Derek my boy, tell us how fast you got that bad boy going!

    For myself, I would never buy something like this, just not my cup of tea. But I am glad it exists, and when I see a paunchy middle-aged dentist drive by in one, it will make me smile! :-)

  • avatar
    Moparman426W

    Females may drive feminine cars, but they are normally attracted to men that drive manly rides, like trucks, Harleys,musclecars, etc. The Shelby is a powerful car, no doubt, but it’s not the most powerful ponycar you can buy. Mr. Norm sells new Challengers with horsepower ranging from 550 to over 1,000.

  • avatar
    dgodshal

    All cylinders firing 7000 times per minute would be 14,000rpm for a 4 stroke, right?

  • avatar
    Mr Nosy

    Two stripes,600hp and a Blonde in floral & flats! Ford knows a thing or two when it comes to mid-life crisis management. As for women today into butt pinching,they’re out there,if you don’t mind lots of tattoos and Betty Page hairdos.The ones I know of like to pinch back,and that’s just for starters!Be careful what you wish for.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    why Ford is painting 660+BHP monster-Modern-Muscle-car in ..
    .. (Grabber) Gay-Blue .. ?!?
    (.. oh , yeah .. traditional Mustang-colour .. :)

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    “compelling… to the generation that doesn’t care about cars” – ?!?
    “Virtually brainwashed young hipsters” don’t care about cars because : (1) they are .. “virtually brainwashed” and (2) they have no money (and will not have)…


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