Shelby GT500 North American Track Tour | Ford Mustang at its Best | By Larry Nutson
Shelby GT500 North American Track Tour
Ford Mustang at its Best
By Larry Nutson
Executive Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
Needless to say, this 2020 “year of Covid-19” has thrown a monkey wrench into everything. In the world of automobiles, new product rollouts have been severely hampered, rescheduled, or cancelled altogether.
But that doesn’t mean that new car or truck is itself put on the shelf.
In the case of Ford, we’ve heard lots about the Mustang. Most of it centers around the all-new, all-electric Mustang Mach-E that will expand the brand to new corners of the driving world.
That said, there is still plenty happening in Ford’s Mustang corral of performance coupes and convertibles. There have never been so many different Mustang models for buyers to choose from. The Mustang herd has now grown to 13 with the recent debut of the Mach 1.
What brings the gas-fed Mustangs into the forefront is the Shelby GT500 North American Track Tour. It’s now underway, following a Covid-delay, bringing invited media, dealers, owners and competitor make owners into the “stable” to be immersed in the GT500. With its 760-horsepower supercharged 5.2-liter V8 engine, TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission and track-developed aero, suspension and wheel technology, Shelby GT500 reigns as the most powerful street-legal Ford ever.
I myself got to learn about and drive the Shelby GT500 last November at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Please go to this link for a complete overview of my GT500 experience.
The plan following winter was for the GT500 Track Tour to pick up in the Spring. Okay, it’s July and I just drove the GT500 again, on the invite of Ford, at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois. Along with an immersion in the technology of the GT500 I again got behind the wheel on Autobahn’s 2.1 mile 15-turn South Circuit road course.
Along with the Shelby GT500 I got a look at the Mustang Ecoboost powered by the 310-HP 2.3-liter turbo four engine. A new high performance package bumps it to 330 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s the most powerful four-cylinder sports car by an American automaker, so says Ford.
The Mustang GT is powered by the legendary 5.0-L V8 with 460-HP. The Mustang Bullitt has the same 5.0-L V8 with technical and calibration changes that boosts output to 480-HP.
Ecoboost and GT models are offered in coupe or convertible body styles and with a choice of manual or automatic transmission.
The Mustang Shelby GT350 with its 5.2-L 526-HP high revving flat plane crank engine and Tremec 6-speed is to die for. And then the super-performance Shelby GT500 tops out the lineup.
Coming for 2021 is the return of the Mustang Mach 1 coupe that features the same 480-HP V8 as the Bullitt. The last Mach 1 was 17 years ago.
Performance was in Ford’s DNA before the company was even founded. It began with Henry Ford when he built a car he named “Sweepstakes.” Ford entered that car in a race that took place on October 10, 1901 at horse racing track in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Ford won that race. Eighteen months later Ford Motor Company was founded.
Mustangs of old were good in a straight line. Today, the entire Mustang model line is very compelling on a road course, on a drag strip, or simply cruising on your favorite boulevard.
The Mustang performance stampede is in full gallop for 2020.
© 2020 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy