The latest version of the Shelby GT500 embodies the culmination of an engineering assault intended to create the fastest factory Mustang yet. The result is a car with world-class handling and braking performance, the output of a pair of Porsche Cayman Rs, and the most powerful factory-installed V8 currently available.
You can get one starting in the low 60-grand range. And it has air conditioning. Cupholders. A warranty, even.
Shelby’s attainable four-seat rocket thruster now has the best aerodynamics, brakes and support systems ever fitted to a Mustang. Apparently, it’ll do 200 miles per hour -- a feat made possible largely because of the obscene power output. Whether you want to hit that sort of velocity in a machine with a solid rear axle is up to you.
The New Shelby V8
The latest Mustang to wear Shelby’s “Cobra” badge uses an aftercooled Eaton TVS supercharger to stuff its 5.8L of displacement full of air and high-octane gas at about 14 PSI.
Result? 662 horsepower. And a Mustang that’ll use your rich pal’s Ferrari or AMG as a chew toy. The sound, even just starting the engine, is enough to make nearby enthusiasts smile, laugh gutturally, and mutter expletives under their breath.
The looks further back up that point. There’s no front grille, because that would slow the car down. And it’s got vents, cooling ducts, a spoiler, a curb-eating front lip and cannon-sized exhaust pipes that actually require being present (all of them) to help keep the GT500 grounded, cool and breathing properly.
Despite the visual and auditory clues, the Shelby GT500 is a fairly uneventful machine if you’re not driving it hard. With the torque output of a battleship, it can be left in third and driven around all day long. Around town or on a highway cruise, it’s laid back, fairly quiet, smooth and even easygoing.
The Recaro seats are very comfortable, the glass roof is awesome, and the ride is pretty darn good, considering. With ultra-low highway revs and more power available by 1,500 rpm than a couple of Kias, it’s actually remarkably good on fuel, too.
Like, we’re talking, 11L/100km during steady cruising around the speed limit.
There’s a striking effortlessness to the power output though -- and this Shelby will accidentally whisk you well beyond the speed limit if you’re not very careful.
All Hell Breaking Loose
Intentionally putting all 662 horsepower to work is a great way to give you and your passengers a facelift, heart-attack and neck injury all at once.
Hammer down, and the nose lifts sharply as the rear-end squats and squirms around. From about 3,500 revs, a sharp whine from the twin-screw blower overlaps the exhaust rumble that saturates the cabin.
There’s no pause, lag or anticipation. It’s just instant, horrifying acceleration, broken up by brief moments of silence and zero gravity as drivers shift into the next gear. The heavy clutch and notch-y shifter add a layer of pure toughness to the experience.
Be alert at full throttle -- as the tail can quickly get sideways, even in second or third. Driven by a cocky novice, this machine could get very ugly very quickly, or at least require a changing of the tires and a cleaning of the seats.
Gears are very long. Get a good launch, and you’ll exit first after 3.5 seconds at over 100 kilometres per hour. Second gear ends shortly thereafter, alongside a velocity that’ll get your car impounded by police in most provinces. That leaves four gears...
So, do the math: The GT500 has a level of power largely wasted on roads with a speed limit. And if you don’t have the self-control of a Buddhist monk, this thing will do to your driver’s license what Taco Bell does to your digestive tract -- annihilation.
More Than Just Speed
Adjustable Billstien dampers feature a sharp, responsive “sport” setting, and a fairly compliant “normal” setting for everyday driving.
The steering can be switched between Standard, Comfort or Sport modes, which alter effort and feel at the touch of a button. All of these modes utilize a very quick ratio, which works with the stiff shocks for an aggressive eagerness to change direction. Brembo brakes clamp down to offer eye-popping stops and decent pedal feel.
If drag racing is more your thing, there’s a launch-control function to help you get off the line without landing upside down at the top of a nearby tree. You can even call up a range of performance gauges in the driver computer screen, alongside some “Track Apps” for when you go racing.
End of the day, this all amounts considerably more performance than most drivers can enjoy or use on a regular basis -- although it’s a level of American firepower and sensory overload not to be missed by speed freaks and bragging-rights enthusiasts.
The best return on investment will come to owners who hit the track or strip. The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is simply too fast, too violent and too extreme to be exploited on public roads and highways.
That, of course, will help sell a lot of them.
Auto journalist & Consumer Ratings
Editor's Review Highlights
2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Specifications
Similar to 2013 Ford Shelby GT500