Ford just announced the revival of the Shelby GT500 nameplate that last graced a Mustang in 1967. More interesting is the fact this new GT500 will have greater than 700 horsepower. Here’s what you need to know.
Intuition suggests Ford is responding to the Challenger SRT Demon, released by Dodge in 2017. For reasons unfathomable, the Demon delivers 840 horsepower and 770 lb.-ft. of torque. For reasons more fathomable, you have to sign safety waivers if you want one – a level of bureaucracy affronting the name “Demon.” But it does have an MSRP of more than $110,000, which tips the scales back toward the demonic.
Given its power, the Challenger SRT Demon also holds a number of auspicious honours. It’s the first production car to perform a wheelie, the fastest quarter-mile production car, and the first production car to replace windshield washer fluid with Monster Energy Drink (I made one of those up). In other words, the arch villain of the automotive temperance movement championed by the Toyota Prius. But, instead of watching the dragstrip from a safe distance, Ford is entering the horsepower arms race.
Ford’s relationship with Shelby hasn’t been totally clear over the last 50 years. Sometimes Shelby has taken stock Mustangs and modified them independently. At other points, Ford has built Shelby Mustangs itself. The Shelby GT500, like the recent GT350 will be a case of the latter. And, it’s safe to say the two GTs will share more than that.
The current GT350 uses a 5.2L, flat-plane crank V8. It delivers a gratuitous 526 horsepower and 429 lb.ft. of torque. Rumours have suggested Ford will supercharge that same engine for use in the GT500. With over 700 horsepower, that engine will make the Shelby GT500 Ford’s most powerful production car ever. Wait – it’s even more powerful than the Ford GT, a literal supercar? Yes, but there are a few caveats.
The Ford GT gets 647 horsepower from a 3.5L EcoBoost V6, slightly less than the Shelby Mustang GT500. However, the GT is far lighter and uses some of the most innovative aerodynamic engineering ever deployed in any industry, so its horsepower goes a bit further. Second, the GT was designed for Le Mans, a long distance race in which engine weight (conversely, power) drastically hampers performance beyond a specific point.
So, while the GT500 will be more powerful, it’s a bit of an “apples and oranges” situation. Plus, the Shelby Mustang can be driven on the average city street without scratching carbon fibre on a speed bump. Of course, the fact a Ford GT might be less “liveable” than a Shelby should be obvious considering the latter is just a heavily modified Mustang GT.
I know, all the “GTs” are getting confusing. But we should take a look at that Mustang that underpins the Shelby variants. After all, “pony cars” are supposed to be high-horsepower, low cost cars – and most people don’t have $70,000 to drop on a Shelby. The Mustang GT starts at $35,095, and features a 5.0L Ti-VCT engine with 460 horsepower and 420 lb-ft. of torque. You also get an engaging cockpit, all-digital dash clusters, and the Track Apps software package for race-day dominance.
And on the outside, you’ll find the most attractive Mustang in years. That’s a result of the combination of angular LED headlights, smooth fastback architecture, and 18” ebony aluminum wheels.