New Mustang Shelby GT500: the most powerful street-legal Ford ever made | CAR Magazine

New Mustang Shelby GT500: the most powerful street-legal Ford ever made

Published: 14 January 2019 Updated: 14 January 2019

► Over 700 horsepower in a Mustang!
► Most powerful street-legal Ford
► Announced at Detroit show, due 2020

This is the new Shelby GT500, the most powerful street-legal Ford ever made – just announced at the Detroit motor show. Ford says the new car uses learnings from its GT supercar, as well as its Mustang GT4 racer, to achieve the most impressive performance we’ve ever seen in a road-legal pony car.

But it’s not just about straight-line speed on the drag strip, the GT500 also has more downforce than before, and an active chassis for more dynamic handling.

‘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. ‘A takedown artist, the new Shelby GT500 will surprise supercar owners with its Ford Performance racing tech, supercharged engine and visceral swagger.’

More from the Detroit motor show

Striking but functional

The GT500 looks every bit the ultimate muscle car, but much of the aero on show actually contributes to performance. The top-pony’s double-front grille adds 50% more cooling than the GT350, while wider wings house 20×11-inch wheels at the front and larger 20×11.5-inch wheels at the rear.

Ford says much of the car’s body was designed in its motorsport programs North Carolina wind tunnel. No surprise then, that the GT500 also packs on a new rear spoiler and massive diffuser for even more downforce.

Underneath that ‘hood’ you’ll find a handbuilt 5.2-litre V8, with a 2.65-litre roots-type supercharger hidden in the V.  The best bit? There’s a 31 x 28-inch hood vent to help dissipate the heat and it’s removable, so you can actually have the engine exposed if you choose.

Sadly, we don’t have exact power figures for the Shelby GT500 just yet, but Ford says the new car produces ‘more than 700 horsepower,’ and is capable of a mid-three second 0-60 mph time. Impressive but expected from that much grunt.

Part of the speed comes from a new dual-clutch, seven-speed ‘box, and with a shift speed under 100 milliseconds, it’s the fastest ever put in a Mustang. When combined with a revised MagneRide suspension, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres, the GT500 should catapult itself out of corners.

You’ll also find 420mm Brembos with six-piston callipers at the front, so it’ll actually stop.

‘With its supercar-level powertrain, the all-new Shelby GT500 takes the sixth-generation Mustang to a performance level once reserved only for exotics,’ said Hermann Salenbauch, global director of Ford’s Performance vehicle programs.

‘As a Mustang, it has to be attainable and punch above its weight. To that end, we’ve set a new standard among American performance cars with our most powerful street-legal V8 engine to date, plus the quickest-shifting transmission ever in a Mustang for all-out precision and speed.’

Handling and Carbon Fiber track packages

Ford says it’ll offer the new GT500 with two distinct packages. A Handling mode includes adjustable top mounts and a spoiler with gurney flap – but it’s the Carbon Fiber track package we’re more keen on. The latter package brings the 20-inch exposed carbonfibre rims, the 0.5-inch larger rear wheels, custom Pilot Sport Cup rubber and the GT4 track wing. Oh, and the rear seat is deleted to save some weight.

Ford says the new car will come in three new colours including Red Hot, Twisted Orange and Iconic Silver. And yes, of course you can have painted stripes.

Is there an interior? 

Yes, and you’ll find it’s simply a more race-centric version of the stock Mustang’s. With that in mind, you’ll find dashes of carbonfibre, optional Recaro and dark suede – but you’ll also get a 12-inch dial cluster, and a 8-inch SYNC 3 infotainment system with 12 B&O Play speakers.

Anything else?

There’s no price or solid performance figures for this car just yet, but it’s certainly one we’ll be keeping our eyes on. We’ll update this article when we know more. 

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By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's Digital Editor, F1 and sim-racing enthusiast. Partial to clever tech and sports bikes