Are you ready for this?
Mustangs are the icon of power and freedom, after all. You, maybe a friend, room for the dog in the backseat (or a small person or two) and away you go. To explore the highways, get lost, find adventure, enjoy the thrill of the road.
And then, every day when you get into your car to go to work or spin class or the grocery store, you remember how much fun your weekends are. And everyone who sees you in the Mustang? They’re jealous because they know how much fun you’re having, too.
But, the open road offers only so much thrill. You can’t drive all that fast. You have to be responsible with your car and respectful of the neighbors. And you can’t usually push your car to its limits.
And with the Mustang ShelbyGT500, that is about 760 times more true.
Hello Track Time, and Miles of Thrills
This is what the Mustang Shelby is all about: Track driving. Miles-long road courses with hairpin turns and long straightaways where you can get the Mustang up to 130 MPH, which we did on our test drive. And it was amazing.
This Mustang, which has a starting price of $70,000 and tops out at about $94,000, has a 760 horsepower supercharged engine, a dual clutch transmission with a dial shifter (yes, it has a dial gear selector and no, it does not come in a stick shift. Manual shifting is slower and you’d lose power). You feel the power the second you hit the starter button. The engine growls, and when you hit the accelerator it howls. With glee. It wants to go.
Its capabilities and its destiny are clear the moment you sit behind the wheel. It is street legal, but should it be? It’s so fast. It’s frankly a little intimidating. Until you take it on the track.
And that is where this car belongs. If you can shell out the $70K+ for this car, you can find the $500 a clip to take it to a track, or a membership at a driving club. You don’t need to be fancy, this car will do all the fancy for you.
What It’s Like on the Track (You Had to Ask?)
We took the Shelby GT500 out on the road course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, too. And there this car really shines. After a couple of laps to get to know the course I was able to push it to its limits—really, my limits; it can go faster than I’m comfortable with. I hit 121 MPH on the long straightaway—the only place on the course I could really see the speedometer. I had the chance to ride along with pro driver Billy Johnson and he got it up to 133 MPH, and even he seemed pretty excited by that. When a pro driver who gets to do this every day is thrilled, you know this is something special.
Visual Cues with Real Benefits: Big Wheels, Carbon Fiber and Ultrasuede
Nothing about the Mustang Shelby GT500 is typical Mustang, and you see that immediately: the flared fenders that house the extra wide Michelin Pilot Sport tires (which are bespoke for this car and nearly twice the width of typical tires), a rear wing, oversized Brembo brakes and an air intake vent on the hood that looks a bit like Hulk bursting out of his t-shirt.
And you especially see this in the technology package (an $18,000 upgrade): the rear wing and wheels are carbon fiber (and those wheels are gorgeous!), an ultrasuede steering wheel and Recaro seats. The seats are designed to not let you slide around; they have suede center panels that keep you planted, leather bolsters that hug your sides and slots for a five point harness, a good idea if you take it to the track. Yes, $18K is a huge upgrade but in this case, not frivolous.
An Optional Back Seat? Why Yes, Race Fans!
Part of the charm of Mustang is that it has a back seat; you can take your besties along or if you suddenly find yourself a new parent, you have room for a little one and can still keep your identity.
But a back seat can add weight to the car, so you can get the Mustang Shelby GT500 without it. For optimal time on the track or the drag strip.
Wait. Drag strip? Yes, this car is designed for that too!
Taking the Mustang Shelby GT500 on the Drag Strip
I’m a huge fan of performance driving. Huge. As in I can’t get enough. I would do it every day if I could. Drag strip racing? Eh, I can take it or leave it. But I have to admit, it’s seriously fun. And the Mustang Shelby GT500’s drag mode makes it even better. The system lets you lock the wheels so you can do a pre-run burn out, which is necessary to heat up the tires, and then it lets you get the engine speed up before you let it rip up the strip. The system is pretty good and even a novice like me did pretty well. We took it to the strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to test it out. My time was about 11.2 seconds; the best time on the track that day was only a few tenths of a second faster (and the slowest were not too far behind me). Drag racing fans will have a great head start on the sport in this car.
But Really, the Track is the Place for the Mustang Shelby GT500
Every car has its home. The Edge is ideal for that super stylish couple who have two picture perfect Golden Retrievers. The Explorer is perfect in the driveway of a busy family. The Expedition is the thing for people who haul a lot of other people and tow equipment. And the Mustang is perfect for the enigmatic thrill seeker, the girl forging her own path.
The Mustang Shelby GT500 takes that up a few notches. It’s powerful and as a daily driver you’ll need to be careful; all that power is tempting and may result in a ticket (or two). Its home is on the track where it can do what it was built to do.
But at the end of the day, it’s time to go home. You fire up the Shelby again, your grin wide, your adrenaline sapped and your hair in a knotted, sweaty badge of accomplishment, and you relax and enjoy the growl of the Mustang Shelby GT500, which it does just as well at 35 MPH as it does at 135. I promise.
What We Listened to in the Mustang Shelby GT500
You need a good playlist in this car. While listening to the engine is, of course, a must, a sound track is a must, too. This is what we listened to on the awesome B&O sound system.
Disclosure: I was Ford’s guest for this test drive; travel, accommodations and adrenaline were provided; the giggles were all mine.