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2013 Shelby GT 500 Review By John Heilig

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2013 Shelby GT 500

By John Heilig
The Auto Channel

2013 Shelby GT 500 Review

Model: 2013 Shelby GT 500 Coupe
Engine: 5.8-liter supercharged DOHC V8
Horsepower/Torque: 662 hp @ 6,500 rpm/632 lb.-ft. @ 4,000 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Wheelbase: 107.1 in.
Length x Width x Height: 188.2 x 73.9 x 54.8 in.
Tires: P285/35ZR20 /P265/40ZR19 (F) no spare (air pump)
Cargo: 13.4 cu. ft.
Economy: 15 mpg city/24 mpg highway/19.5 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 16.0 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,852 lbs.
Sticker: $63,080 (includes $795 destination charge, $8,065 in options ($3,495 SVT performance package, $2,995 SVT track package, $1,595 Shelby manual leather Recaro seats))

The Bottom Line: If ever there was a street legal race car, it’s the Shelby GT500, which is, of course, based on the Ford Mustang. This car has enormous power, stiff handling that allows it to corner at scary speeds, a rowdy exhaust, and balls-in-your-face styling accents that leave no false impressions about what you’re driving.

Carroll Shelby began modifying Fords shortly after his Ford GTs won the LeMans 24 hour race and he started stuffing Ford engines in to AC chassis to create the Cobra. After an ill-advised sojourn to Chrysler (remember the GLH Omni?) he returned to Ford where he remained associated until his death this year.

While Shelby readily admitted that his primary involvement with the GT500 was his name, there is still a bit of the old Texan in the car.

I have described cars as raucous in the past. One of those was the Mustang GT. But the Shelby GT is downright rowdy. Fire it up and there’s an exhaust roar that doesn’t stop until after you shut it down. It moderates a bit when you’re trying to cruise at semi-normal speeds, but there’s still this undercurrent of exhaust noise that keeps you alert.

You also stay alert knowing that the 5.8-liter V8 under the hood is rated at 662 horsepower and 631 lb.-ft. of torque. A bit about those numbers. When I looked on the Ford web site to confirm them, there are three different horsepower numbers, leading one to believe that the car is still evolving. I picked the largest.

The engine moves its power through a stiff 6-speed manual transmission. The gears are precise and each one seems to want to propel the car faster. The shifter itself is topped by a cue-ball-style knob that was a pleasure to hold onto, even when you weren’t shifting. But this car also requires two hands on the leather steering wheel.

You also stay alert knowing that those horses can push the Shelby GT500 to a top speed in excess of 200 mph. I don’t know where you could reach that speed in the US, but it is interesting knowing that top speed is available. We rarely exceeded 60 mph in our test, which included mostly suburban streets.

I confess to being slightly nervous. When I first took the Shelby GT 500 out and took my first corner, I punched the gas pedal and the rear end twitched out on me. In fact, on that first ride, EVERY time I cornered and hit the gas, the rear end got twitchy. In fairness to the car, the tires had been well used by previous journalists, but the first corners made me more respectful of what I was driving.

Handling is harsh, but it has to be to allow the cornering capabilities of this car. This is not a car for taking your grandmother for a ride, although your grandfather might enjoy it.

I love Recaro seats. The deep contouring holds you tightly and mitigates the harsh ride somewhat. They are labeled “Shelby” on the backs of the seats and “Recaro” on the sides. The front seats offer standard Mustang leg room, which is good. In the back, however, the legroom is tight. We put the 21-year-old son of a friend of mine back there during one test ride and he reported that it wasn’t uncomfortable. Of course, he also didn’t volunteer for a long cross-country ride back there.

On a later drive, I turned at a traffic light. Coming from the left at the light was a Mustang GT with the same paint scheme as my Shelby. The girl driving was smoking, and when she put her hand out the window to flick her ashes, she gave me a casual thumbs up. I thought that was cool.

The dash is standard Mustang, with the exception that the speedometer goes up to 220 mph, indicating the possibilities available with the car.

We also checked the trunk, which is decent at 13.4 cubic feet. It’s big enough to put a body back there, which we actually did. Well, he wasn’t dead, but it gave all of us an opportunity to check the safety release handle, which worked. So two of our granddaughters had to try it and they got out safely as well. It was a good learning experience.

For identification, as if the hood scoops, etc. weren’t enough, there’s a Cobra symbol on the wheel and on the front fenders, as well as in the center rear of the car. There’s a prancing horse behind the mirror, and “SVT 20th Anniversary” on the door sills.

The Shelby GT500 is a hell of a car. It’s fun to drive. I would like to have had the chance to drive it on a track or some other closed environment, just to get a feel for its real potential. But even in suburbia, it gives you a very strong hint.

2012 The Auto Page