By on January 14, 2019

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The #savethemanuals crowd may weep, but the Ford fanboys will still rejoice. The 2020 Ford Mustang GT500 is here. It’s loud, it’s powerful, it looks cool, and it has no clutch pedal.

That’s right. The more than 700 horsepower expected from the 5.2-liter supercharged V-8 will funnel through a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission from Tremec. Drivers will take back manual control via paddles.

That doesn’t mean a manual won’t be available later. Not to mention, there’s a lot more to this super-snake story.

That horsepower number above makes it clear that Ford has Hellcats in its sight, along with the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. Key performance components include a cross-plane crankshaft, forged connecting rods, 16.5-inch Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers, a carbon-fiber driveshaft, MagneRide suspension dampers, high-performance Michelin tires that Ford says were specifically designed for this ‘Stang, and available Pilot Sport 4S tires. The supercharger is a Roots-type unit. The car rides on 20-inch wheels.

Buyers also get line-lock, launch control, and track apps.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

The front end is definitely more assertive than what’s seen on the lower-trim ‘Stangs. Other aero bits include a new front air damn, an adjustable carbon-fiber splitter, a functional slatted hood vent, larger air openings, a different grille, and a front splitter.

If that’s not enough, buyers can tick a box to receive a package containing carbon-fiber wheels, exposed carbon fiber on the rear wing and dash, Recaro leather seats with suede, and rear-seat delete. A high-capacity oil pan and an adjustable exhaust are also part of the Shelby mystique, along with hood pins.

Available drive modes include drag and track, along with weather. Ford also says the chassis is race-tuned, which is not surprising, as this isn’t just intended as a drag-strip missile. It longs to be a true track star.

Ford claims a 0-60 time of mid-three seconds, a quarter-mile run in under 11 seconds, and gear shifts in under 100 milliseconds.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Everyday amenities include a rear-view camera, Sync, in-car wi-fi, and a 12-inch digital instrument cluster.

As TTAC’s resident Mustang fanboy, my initial “hot take” is that the car looks bad-ass up close, but it’s weird to not see a manual-transmission shifter. I get the reasoning — no human can shift as fast at the DCT, and it may be tough to find a manual that can handle the torque this engine is likely to generate. Still, it’s jarring to see a Mustang like this with an automatic-trans shifter that looks yanked from an Explorer.

More importantly, Dodge and Chevrolet will be forced to take notice. Prepare for an onslaught of buff-book comparos. No matter which car wins, the Shelby appears ready for battle.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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39 Comments on “2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – A Super Snake Without a Stick...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    “seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission”

    This makes me very sad…

    Of course the guys who buy one to stick in a hermetically sealed garage while they wait for Barrett Jackson 2050 don’t care one bit what kind of trans it has.

    • 0 avatar
      tomLU86

      in 2050, inflation-adjusted, this car will not be worth more than it costs now, probably.

      My initial reaction is that it is sad and pathetic that this too is automatic only.

      However, with 700-plus horsepower, maybe it is better to have the machine change gears.

      Still, I have made my ‘last compromise’. I won’t buy another new car with an automatic…so I probably won’t be buying another new car period.

  • avatar
    wooootles

    At this levels of power (700+) this car isn’t about ‘driving enjoyment’ anymore as a first priority; this one is made to go fast, and to beat all other cars to the finish line. I understand it not having a 6MT. The GT350 is still available (stick only!), probably handles better and more of a ‘driver’s car.’

    I actually like the front!

  • avatar
    volvo

    They wanted to build a fast stable car and they probably have succeeded.
    Current F1 cars have a similar transmission setup but fully automatic transmissions and “launch control” is banned in F1 since it gives too much of an advantage.

    I agree the comment that the GT350 would meet the needs of the MT fans.

    MTs simply do not perform as well as the modern automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Getting the ultimate fastest version isn’t the only reason you demanded a manual, far from it. But I agree there’s never been a better time for automatics.

      But this part’s very important: Manuals also filter out most of your friends, brother-in-laws, nieces/nephews, etc, that are dying to drive your new sports/muscle car, take it for a spin and whatnot, when you know it’s a terrible idea.

      Those that can, probably know a couple things, verse the strictly stab-n-steer crowd, but when cars are strictly “manuals only”, it’s sort of an exclusive club, members only. That’s what I’ll miss about the manual GT500s, maybe a little less “street cred” too.

    • 0 avatar

      Artificial insemination works better too… its just not as fun. Since most who buy aren’t going to compete then what fastest shouldn’t really a factor.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Thing is, its domestic competitors are available with a manual.

  • avatar
    scott25

    It makes perfect sense that this is auto-only while the GT350 still exists, different customers and missions. No matter how much they play up it’s handling prowess, it’s still a straight line car. The GT350 has the right amount of power for a track and the NA engine will always be more fun to drive hard and shift yourself.

  • avatar
    NG5

    As a recent Ford buyer this really seems like the end of the road for me. What’s the argument for this car over an AMG, a Lexus with a V8, or a Corvette? I wouldn’t take any of them on a track enough to be very interested in the slight difference in speed. Two can come in four door and one in wagon configuration, and a Corvette probably weighs hundreds of pounds less and comes with a manual transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      NG5

      If they continue to make the GT350 concurrently I am much less disappointed. I thought this was supposed to supplant GT350 production.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        It isn’t. It’s going to sit alongside the Shelby GT350.

        • 0 avatar
          NG5

          Thanks! Nobody seems to be mentioning the future of the GT350, and with rumors of engine unreliability I figured maybe they would be quietly ending production by replacing it with a faster model. At least there is still one Ford for me to covet.

          I have a hard time understanding the GT500, but I guess it’s “The Ultimate Mustang” for people who like specs.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      The price paid for a GT500- while shockingly similar to more luxurious cars like AMGs- is for the King of the Hill bragging rights that come with the domestic rivalries (rather than the prestige of a badge). I am neither a Mercedes guy nor a Ford guy, but I agree that an AMG is a more compelling way to spend $90k+ than on any Mustang. However, to answer your question, “What’s the argument for this car over an AMG, a Lexus with a V8, or a Corvette?”, I can say that those cars drive and feel very different from a Mustang. An AMG is still a more balanced blend of brute force and luxury, as compared to a raucous muscle car. A Lexus with a V8 is a Prius in comparison, with its relatively slow-building torque and sense of refinement that betrays the burble of it’s 5.0. And a Corvette’s LS/LT feels and revs much differently than the DOHC motors from Ford, though this comparison is easily the closest.

      Why get the GT500 over an AMG? Because 40 years ago, your dad didn’t drive you to school in an AMG.

      • 0 avatar
        NG5

        Thanks for this summary. It makes some of the distinctions more clear. While it’s certainly the case that no purchase of a car like this would be “rational”, your comment helps me see where some of the commitments and interests of buyers of big V8s might lie. There are so few on the market now, I am glad that there are still an interesting variety of choices.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    I agree that the manual becomes superfluous at these power levels but…

    “It may be tough to find a manual that can handle the torque this engine is likely to generate..”

    The TREMEC does just fine in the ZR1 (755 hp) and the Hellcat (717 hp), not to mention the previous GT500 (662 hp). We know it fits in this chassis because it’s used in the GT350. Should be possible to create a 3 pedal GT500 if Ford is so inclined….

    • 0 avatar
      wooootles

      “Tough to put a ___ transmission with this torque” is the corporate excuse. BMW and Audi said the same corporate line when they moved their high performance sedans from a 7DCT to a ZF8.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      Fair points. I was anticipating the corporate excuse.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      Tremec makes a transmission designed and rated to handle the Hellephant, so they could put in an M6 if they want to.

      That said, this car probably will be better with an auto. Let the computer shift for you, you just concentrate on braking.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Well, they’re targeting the fastest strip times, and a DCT with launch control is the best way to do that.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          ” DCT with launch control is the best way to do that.”

          Not really. Direct drive is best. Its going to be beat by cars that have no transmission. 0 milliseconds is a lot faster than 100.

          Its biggest problem is going to be its lack of traction. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more than a few “Model 3P beats GT500” youtube videos out there because of this. GT500 sitting around smoking its tires while a Model 3P or Taycan leaves it behind.

  • avatar
    Fred

    I’d like to say I would never buy this Mustang unless it came with a manual. But the truth is I can’t afford it. Not to mention I had a hard time keeping my 200hp SVO under control, let alone this thing.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    What do you want to bet that values of the old Mustang Shelby GT500—which was last sold in 2014—go up because it has a manual transmission? If I had a whole bunch of money, I’d buy two or three of those.

    At least you still have the Mustang Shelby GT350, which is manual-only.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      I anticipate the manual version is coming soon, so dont build on to your garage just yet.

    • 0 avatar
      trackratmk1

      I’ve been wondering the same thing. You could say it happened with the original NSX, price jumping 100% in last 5 or so years. Whether or not that’s due to the new car lacking a stick or the old one being generally more desirable for its full package is debatable. But F355’s and F430’s command a premium for the stick, I’d say more so since they went auto-only. So it’s possible.

      Not that it will matter for the GT500 because they are likely still bringing out a 6-spd manual… just safely after the buff-books run their easily repeatable 0-60 and 1/4 times with the auto.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        Indeed. It doesn’t help that the automatic engines in those cars are early automated manual units that are going to be costly and difficult to preserve…whereas a MT-equipped model is a lot simpler. Lamborghini has seen a similar event, wherein MT-equipped Gallardos and Murciélagos fetch a premium over their semi-automatic brethren.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I’m still trying to figure out why this car took 5 years to come out? The next Mustang is due in a year or 2.

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      You just answered your own question. Manufacturers regularly wait until the last couple of years of a model run before releasing the hottest/rarest trim: Audi RS3, Corvette ZR1, Mustang Boss 302 Shaker, Mercedes AMG Black series…

      It extends the life of the model line, squeezing out some additional sales while using the halo effect for momentum through the announcement of a new model on the horizon.

  • avatar
    fshock

    Incredible that it took Ford more than a decade to put down Nissan GT-R numbers with a Mustang. Too bad it’s uglier and more expensive (although resale value in 50 years might bridge the gap!)

    • 0 avatar
      pinkslip

      I resent that you’re making me defend Ford on this one, but…

      Ford has produced some amazing-performing vehicles in various classes in the time Nissan put out the R35 GTR: GT, Raptor, Focus RS, Mustang GT350/R, Boss 302 Laguna Seca…

      More-so, you’re trying to compare a Mustang with a car revered for punching well above its weight. There are tons of other cars that also don’t exceed the GTR in pure performance numbers.

      • 0 avatar
        fshock

        I think this car competes much more directly against the GT-R than anything else Ford has ever put out. They even made it look like one if you squint. I would love to see a full comparison between the two.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Understand no manual, but a rotary dial lifted from the Fusion…?!

  • avatar
    FWD Donuts

    Ugh. A hockey puck for a shifter. Why do this when the levers in Chargers and Challengers work so well? Pass. A grotesque front end. Pass again. Bummer.

  • avatar
    tenrten

    Beautiful !!!

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    Mustangs haven’t been attractive since 1968. I’d take one of those, put in disc brakes, a modern running gear, and a fuel injected crate engine. Much better than the newer overwrought POSs.

  • avatar
    Boxerman

    The Gt 500 is what it is.

    I would like to see some of the tech applied to the Gt350R, Namely some lighter weight and the bent crank.No eps would be great too.

    Can w eget a sub 3200lbs GT350R with the smooth great sounding burbly bent crank and hydraulic steering to go with its stick? Thats a car that will be revered like the gen 1 nsx.

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    Now that this is out of the way, if only FORD would make a real grand touring Mustang, one which handles very well but doesn’t rattle the fillings in your teeth and is comfortable for the long haul drives. I am an old car guy, and these are no longer tolerable, which is why I have a Jag, a Merc and a Caddy in the drive. Comfort with excellent handling does not work with rock hard springs and shocks. Quite in side, I like the radio.


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