2007 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review
At Moroso Motorsports Park, the
Shelby GT500 was truly King of the Hill. The power is
always "right there," and handling and
braking are up to track duty.
SEE ALSO Ford Buyer's Guide
2007 Ford Mustangs
Driving Ford's New Alpha Male, the GT500
By Rex Roy
Photos: Ford Motor Company and the Author
Clever those Ford marketing types … their new favorite phrase
regarding the Mustang is "A steed for every need." So is this true, or just
This line of Mustangs awaited us
and provided an excellent comparison between the
various flavors of Mustangs. A standard Mustang GT is
at the head of the line.
After driving a 2007 Mustang GT, Shelby GT, and a Shelby GT500, this
author sees some truth in this advertising.
On a pleasant day in October, Ford rented the road course at Moroso
Motorsports Park (near Palm Beach). They populated the track with all
manner of Mustangs, ranging from the basic 300-horsepower GT to a
full-blown Shelby GT500. The Mustangs were there for the press's driving
pleasure, and it was just that.
Our baseline for the day was the garden variety
Mustang GT. It's a pretty happy car around the flat 2.25 miles of Moroso.
Things you'd expect from a standard run of the mill production car surface
in the GT. As you up shift through the gears, the suspension relaxes then
recompresses. This is never unsettling, it's just the way a high-volume
production car is. Same for the brakes – they get hot and fade after
a few hot corners. On the street, these things don't matter, but you notice
them after turning a bunch of hot laps. On the plus side, we noticed how
balanced the GT is. It is an easy car to drive quickly because it responds
to the helm and the throttle with equal aplomb.
Featuring parts developed by Ford
Racing, the Shelby GT was the lightest and quickest
feeling on the track.
Stepping up to the Shelby GT, we experienced what a bit of tuning does
for the base GT. The Shelby GT gets hardware developed by Ford Racing and
Shelby's team (the old man himself was involved), and it changes the car
markedly. The hardware includes packages from Ford Racing called the Power
Pack and the Handling Pack. The former includes a low-restriction muffler,
a cold-air intake system, and new engine electronics mapping. The result is
a verifiable 20-horsepower gain at the rear wheels. The latter package
drops the Mustang a good 1.5 inches using new springs and dampers.
Different sway bars and a strut tower brace finish off the package.
The limited-edition Shelby GT-H
model sits behind the new Shelby GT. The cars have
identical hardware, but styling cues differ. For those
interested in buying an "out of service"
rental car, Hertz promises to sell them after they
accrue 15,000-18,000 miles.
On the track, the Shelby GT feels much more composed than the standard
GT. Gone is the seesawing at gear changes, and the car's attitude in
corners is much more neutral. This suspension makes a driver aware of just
how much understeer is dialed into a standard GT. The Shelby GT's rear end
is much livelier, making this model feel the lightest and most responsive
of the trio we sampled. While the author would like to say he could feel
the extra power, his hind side is not finely enough calibrated to pick up
on an increase that works out to be around seven percent. His ears,
however, could hear how good the low-restriction exhaust sounded.
Moving up to the Shelby GT500, the driving experience changes
completely. Powered by an iron-block 5.4-liter Triton V8 with a Roots-style
supercharger running at 8.5 psi of boost, the alpha male of Mustangs puts
out an even 500 horsepower. The transmission is a Tremec TR6060, a special
6-speed manual with high torque capabilities. Its suspension features
plenty of unique performance pieces, and the brakes are massive 14-inch,
4-pot Brembo units. Both front and rear brake discs are vented. Rolling
stock measures out at P255/45ZR18 in front and P285/40ZR18 out back.
Leaving the slippery hole at
Milan Dragway, the Shelby GT500 rips off another
quarter mile run in the low 13s. Speed through the
traps was over 109 mph. (Photo by Rex Roy)
Pulling out of pit lane, the increase in power is immediately apparent,
as is (surprisingly) the quietness of the exhaust. This car swooshes along
vacuuming up track like a rabid Hoover. While clearly faster than the
Shelby GT, the Shelby GT500 feels much heavier because understeer is more
prominent, in part due to 57-percent of the car's weight being over the
front axle. (The 4.6-liter in the two lesser GTs is an aluminum block
engine, the 5.4-liter is iron.) From outside the car, the supercharger's
characteristic whine signaled big power, but inside the greatest sensation
was never-ending torque. Thankfully, the big brakes were up to track
The Shelby GT500 felt right at
home on the streets of Detroit. It's looks swiveled
heads everywhere, including at Milan Dragway. (Photo by
Our on-track impressions of the Shelby GT500 were confirmed with a week
of road time in Michigan. Around the streets of Detroit, the big Shelby
felt like a classic Motown muscle carbig, brawny, and ready to brawl.
Giving in to its desire to fight, we took it to Milan Dragway to see how it
would do facing off against others during a test-and-tune Wednesday time
trial session. Easily ripping off quarter miles in the low 13s at over 109
mph says much more about the capabilities of the Shelby than the
capabilities of the driver. The author was dusted in the first round of
bracket racing eliminations.
With the demise of the truly fantastic Ford GT, the Shelby GT500 is left
to carry Ford Motor Company's performance mantle. While it is clearly the
king of all current Mustangs, it's no Ford GT. However, this is an
appropriate time to utter, "The King is dead, long live the King."
2007 Ford Shelby GT500
Base price: $41,295
Engine: Supercharged V8, 500 hp @ 6000/480 lb-ft @ 4500
Transmission: Six-speed manual, 3.31:1 final drive
Length x width x height: 188 x 73.9 x 54.5 in
Wheelbase: 107.1 in
Curb weight: 3920 lb
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 15/21 mpg (manual)
Safety equipment: Anti-lock brakes, traction control; front and side airbags
Major standard features: Climate control; power windows, locks, and mirrors;
18-inch wheels; tilt steering wheel with fingertip controls; power front seats; lots of Shelby badges
Warranty: Three-year/36,000 mile bumper to bumper; Five years/60,000 miles powertrain;
Five year/60,000 miles roadside assistance