2007 Ford Shelby Cobra 500 Review


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SEE ALSO: FORD GT500 Buyers Guide

THE AUTO PAGE
by JOHN HEILIG

SPECIFICATIONS Model: Ford Shelby Cobra 500
Engine: Supercharged 5.4-liter V8
Horsepower/Torque: 500 hp @ 6000 rpm/480 lb.-ft. @ 4500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 107.1in.
Length x Width x Height: 187.6 x 73.9 x 55.4 in.
Tires: 255/45ZR18 (front), 285/40ZR18 (rear)
Cargo volume: 13.1 cu. ft.
Economy: 15 mpg city/21 mpg highway/19.7 mpg test
Price: $43,130 (includes $745 destination charge, $595 (Shelby interior package),
$195 (Sirius satellite radio), $665 (audio package)

The Bottom Line: The Shelby Cobra 500 is an awesome performance car that is a surprisingly nice package as a “normal” street car. It has great looks with blue paint and two wide racing stripes, and a great sound from the exhaust.

Many, many years ago, my wife and I had a 1965 Ford Mustang fastback coupe with a “powerful” 289 cubic inch (4.7-liter) engine that was the closest thing to a muscle car we owned. We treated it more like a sports car, so never really appreciated the muscle-ness of it.

For 2007, Ford has a version of the Mustang (it isn’t even labeled as a Mustang anywhere on the car) that is called the Shelby Cobra 500. This is a muscle car that has been to the gym!

The Shelby’s 5.4-liter supercharged engine pumps out an honest 500 horsepower. Driving the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, the engine spins those wheels anytime it wants, with apparently little control from the driver. Granted, the week we had the Shelby was a wet one (thank God there wasn’t any snow), and traction was questionable anyway, but with all the power available, judicious use of the clutch and accelerator pedal was necessary. The Shelby has 57 percent of its weight on the front wheels, so even with traction control, it’s tough keeping the wheels in full drive mode.

In all fairness, though, our `65 would lose traction whenever the humidity exceeded 85 percent, so this was a condition I was accustomed to.

But the Shelby can also be driven as a “normal” car. Start off in second, instead of first (there’s enough torque, believe me), and there’s no slippage problem. The Shelby acts far more civilized under all conditions and is actually fun to drive. Driven approximately 90 percent of the time in “normal” mode, we averaged a respectable 19.7 mpg overall. I remember the old Mustang GT with the 5.0-liter engine and a 5-speed manual gearbox that I was glad to see go away.

Like any self-respecting muscle car, this one had a great suspension. Details include a reverse-L independent MacPherson strut front suspension with a 34 mm tubular stabilizer bar that runs right across the top of the engine, and a three-link solid axle with coil springs, Panhard rod and 24-mm solid stabilizer bar. In real life, if you wanna corner hard, you can do it and the Shelby will stay flat to the ground. If you’re in “touring” mode, the suspension is compliant enough to permit comfortable – if hard – driving.

Again, damp weather precluded any really hard driving. We tried hard cornering a couple of times and the rear end wanted to drift out, so we had to feather the accelerator and control the near-spin with the steering wheel.

Inside, the Shelby was Mustang, although again there was no “Mustang” badging anywhere. We had a nice fat steering wheel with cruise control switches on it. Cruise is a good option because it keeps you within legal speed limits. We had two large gauges in the instrument panel for the speedometer and tachometer, with four auxiliary gauges tucked between them. Accelerate hard and a big orange “SVT” lights up in the speedometer as the supercharger boost gauge advances up the scale. The gauges were white-on-black by day, blue-on-black at night with red pointers.

Front seats were comfortable, but could have used more side support. Also, leg room is restrictive enough that anyone significantly larger that 6-0 might find it tight. Rear legroom is essentially nonexistent. We had a long trip one day and found that the child seat would fit barely, but there couldn’t be an adult back there with the child, so we took another car.

We had a good heater/HVAC system. I like Ford’s dash outlets that look like one-eyed smiling faces when closed.

Styling of the Shelby is awesome. At its base it is probably the best version of the new generation of Mustang. Even without all the Shelby stuff – and the raised hood for the supercharger – it’s a tough-looking car. Ours was blue with two wide white stripes than ran the length of the car. It attracted more notice from adults than teenagers, although I may have missed the high school crowd passing by.

2007 The Auto Page Syndicate

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