Ford Shelby GT500 Review

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
ford shelby gt500 review

You know that bumper sticker “He who dies with the most toys wins?” While it might be perfectly at home affixed to the bumper of a BMW M6 or a Lamborghini Gallardo, such a wholesome piece of braggadocio would be hopelessly out of place stuck to the bumper of the thuggish Shelby GT500. A more appropriate piece of signage might be, “My muscle car can beat up your supercar.” If we are being honest, the sticker would read “I did your Mamma and she liked it.”

From certain angles, a lay person would have no idea that the Shelby GT500 is the most powerful and expensive Mustang ever to scream out of Flat Rock. The obvious tell is the gaped-maw with its deep, parking-block hostile air dam, and the pec implant known as the power dome hood. But the snakes on a ‘Stang are the best giveaway. The Shelby’s sheetmetal is festooned with no less than four cobras. Keen eyes will also clock the goofy-wide 285 tires nestled snugly in front of the rear-diffuser. The ten-spoke 18” wheels are sharply dressed and the blue skunk-stripes sufficiently gauche. The whole package adds up to a life-size Hot Wheel.

Once inside, Mustang aficionados will feel right at home, with a few noteworthy exceptions. A giant Cobra hisses humorously from the center of the steering wheel, adding animal animus to the two angry serpents stitched into the hard leather seats. If you have any doubts about the GT500’s patriotic fervor (and why would you?), just set the adjustable gauge colors to red, white and blue. The SVT badge in the center of the tach (switched from left to right for visibility) is the interior’s coolest feature. When you reach your (selectable) shift-point, it glows a fiery orange. Might I suggest 4,300rpm?

So how does a vehicle that lays down 89.999% of its righteous 500 horsepower sound? Like the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse in an echo chamber. How does it feel? Like a head butt. Release the clutch and there is a moment of hesitation, almost as if the rear tires are asking, “You’re not serious?” And then BAM, you’re going 60, then 80, then much faster– until finally you are standing on the perfectly chosen 14” Brembos praying that nothing crosses your path before the speedo is once again displaying double-digits. The insane shrieking from the supercharger and the feeling of certain death from the abysmal suspension setup only makes you pray harder.

FoMoCo alleges that the Shelby hits 60mph in 4.5 seconds. I wager that you actually hit 60mph in 3.5 seconds. Again, the GT500 seems to muck about for a full second before it decides to go anywhere. Some blame is due to the ridiculously antiquated live rear-axle. Over certain pieces of pavement you are left wondering what happened to the ox. Fault also lies in the fact that 58% of the lardy 3920lbs. ride up front. Unlike the equally unbalanced RS4, there is no German precision engineering holding down the fort. What happens is entirely between you and your right foot.

It’s true: the GT500 isn’t clever, engineered, refined or dignified. It’s just plain old mean. If you were to autopomorphize Jack Lambert, you’d wind up with a GT500, missing teeth and all. I have never ridden in a cruder modern vehicle. It bangs and lurches and drunkenly slurs all over the road, especially when you are pointed straight ahead. Case in point; the headrests feature more squish than the rest of the seat.

Luckily, Ford’s go-faster crew have replaced the Mustang’s floppy, last-century five-speed with a short-throw six-speed Tremec device. While it’s a highly effective cog swapper, the gearbox feels as if it were crafted from bone and piano wire. Do I care? Hell no. The GT500 is more exciting to drive than any vehicle in memory. You like cars that wag their tails? Brother, have I got a dog for you! With the traction control (stupidly) switched off and a few degrees dialed into the tiller, you will swear on your mother’s eyes that a ski is mounted east/west where the rear wheels should be. Donuts? I was doing éclairs. They were delicious.

At heart Shelby’s GT500 is the modern muscle car that pistonheads have been clamoring for since Buick put the GNX out to pasture. Mindless, irresponsible power coupled with antisocial handling equals a big, dumb grin. At just a hair over $40,000 (not counting the well earned, $1300 gas-guzzler fine), the price is right. For what you ask? A two-plus-two that doesn't quite equal four, that can't take down corners with half the grace of cars with half the horsepower, whose engine note signals to anyone within earshot that the GT500's driver is a politically incorrect speed freak whose heart pumps premium unleaded? Yup.

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  • Flaw3284 Flaw3284 on Apr 13, 2007

    yes sir just because it cant handle doesnt mean anyhting most american muscle cars can

  • MATTHEW MATTHEW on Nov 20, 2007

    My daily driver was a 69 Mach I when I was sixteen. I still get goose bumps when i see one.

    Do you know how bad me and thousands like me wanted one of the old shelbys. It was a dream that got further and further out of reach as the prices went up. Well Ford made that dream come true with this Shelby.

    Most of them were sold for 20k over sticker.

    I actually own an O8 Shelby and bought it after reading all the bull about the car not handling. Well the car handles fine. You have to know how to handle that type of car.

    What’s more everyone I meet is as excited about the car as I am. They love it at car shows.

    The car is in your f—–g face horespower. Its obnoxious. With a few small modifications it can turn 800hp.

    You may need all that talk about finese when you try to talk your wife in letting you buy a car, however when you get what you really want it will be the GT-500.

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.