Review: 2007 Ford Shelby GT500
This 2007 review is representative of model years 2007 to 2009.
By Ann Job of MSN Autos
Fans of American muscle cars, rejoice.
The 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 is making a fleeting appearance at auto showrooms.
An awesome modern reincarnation of the famous Shelbys of the 1960s, the latest collaboration between Ford Motor Co. and famed racer Carroll Shelby draws the best from two worlds: Sophisticated, modern race engine technology from Ford and authentic muscle car handling and personality from the charismatic Shelby.
I say the Shelby GT500's appearance is "fleeting," because as the fastest production Mustang ever, this special, low-volume car can out-accelerate a lot of cars from standstill to 60 miles an hour, including the Dodge Charger SRT8, with a time of less than 5 seconds.
Speed comes from a raucous 5.4-liter V8 that's supercharged and capable of 500 horsepower and a whopping 480 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm. This is way more than the 300 horses and 320 lb-ft of torque at 4500 rpm found in a "normal" Ford Mustang GT.
And with only 8,000 to 10,000 being built and demand high, the Shelby GT500 is on dealer lots only fleetingly. Before the first car could get to a showroom, prices already were going thousands above the starting manufacturer's suggested retail tag of nearly $41,000 for a coupe and $45,700 for a convertible.
Authentic Shelby -- car and man
A tall, hard-charging Texan who set world speed records in the 1950s and won the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1959, Shelby has put his name and spirit into such memorable cars as the aluminum-bodied Shelby Cobras of the 1960s.
Today, some of the Shelby autos from that era sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Ford is lucky to be able to tap Shelby, now in his 80s and living with a transplanted heart. The man knows how to craft hot cars in undeniably all-American packages that attract people to showrooms.
Of the Shelby GT500, he says, "There's just enough retro there to remind you of the 1960s Mustang, but they were crude compared to what we have now in electronics, horsepower and brakes."
Personal vision of a performance Mustang
The Shelby GT500 coupe has wide, white LeMans racing stripes from front to rear. (In a nod to history, the Shelby GT500 convertible does not have this striping because it would be interrupted by the stripe-free fabric roof.)
Both body styles have side striping and share a snarling grille, as well as aggressive front fascia with hood scoops. These scoops are functional. They help relieve pressure under the hood.
All Shelby GT500s wear large, 18-inch performance tires with the ones in the rear slightly larger than the ones in front — that Shelby insisted upon as he worked with Ford officials to tune the handling just to his liking. They're needed in this rear-drive car to help harness all the torque.
But note the cars come with summer performance tires, which can be problematic for wintry roads. That's assuming you take this car out of the garage in winter, of course.
Inside, the 4-passenger Shelby GT500 is a throwback to earlier days, when driving was the attraction, not a sidelight as it seems in some of today's cars. Thus, there's no automatic transmission, no navigation system, no TV-like display screen.
Leather seat cushions have the busy, multi-channel look of early Shelbys but with some much-needed side bolster support added.
Gauges are white-faced with the speedometer located on the left, so drivers can more easily see the rpm readings of the tach. And the steering wheel, a good-sized circle, is finished in black leather.
In fact, the interior of all Shelby GT500s is black — either plain charcoal black or charcoal black with spicy-looking red inserts.
The audio is a chest-pounding, 1000-watt, Shaker system with AM/FM, six-disc CD/MP3 player in the dashboard, 10 speakers and Sirius satellite radio.
Mated to a 6-speed manual, the Shelby GT500 engine not only is supercharged and intercooled with a Roots-type, 9-pounds-per-square-inch Eaton supercharger. It gets some premium parts, such as aluminum four-valve cylinder heads, crankshaft, piston rings and bearings from Ford's $150,000 super sports car, the GT, that it no longer produces.
The Shelby GT500 tester galloped down straightaways and passed legal speed limits before a driver was aware of it. And there was never any weakness in the big brakes.
I expected the car to be a handful in the curves, though, just because of its brutish looks and because its historical predecessors of the '60s weren't exactly buttoned-down machines.
But this Shelby car is surprisingly controlled in many of its motions. I went through slaloms at good speed without feeling abrupt or unsettling weight shifts, and the power rack-and-pinion steering was dead on.
Slam on the brakes at high speed, though, and the hood dips precipitously and the rear lightens up because so much of the car's weight — 57 percent — already sits in the front of the car because of the big, heavy engine.
Passengers feel road bumps and vibrations, but they're not jarring in most instances. I didn't notice much road noise, because, frankly, the engine was so loud.