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2007 Ford Mustangs Review


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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
TheAutoChannel.com

Clever those Ford marketing types … their new favorite phrase regarding the Mustang is "A steed for every need." So is this true, or just banal hyperbole?

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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.

Driving Impressions

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 duty.

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The Shelby GT500 felt right at home on the streets of Detroit. It's looks swiveled heads everywhere, including at Milan Dragway. (Photo by Rex Roy)
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