A Little History
If you're no stranger to the Ford Mustang and its lineage, you're probably well aware of Carroll Shelby's involvement with the pony car since the mid-60s. With the unveiling of the all-new Ford Mustang at the New York World's Fair in 1964 by Lee Iacocca, there was something missing. Don't get us wrong, the Mustang was a head-turner and Iacocca hit the nail on the head for an untapped segment that was very much needed in the United States. However, Carroll Shelby saw more in the Mustang. Let's just say that Shelby had an affinity for dropping unusually large V8 engines into small, light vehicles like the Shelby Cobra.
1965 Shelby GT350
Shelby had great success in the racing world and after opening the Shelby School of High-Performance Driving, he thirsted for more. He needed a design that was well known to the masses to throw his larger, high-performance engine, signature Le Mans style stripes and other performance-oriented upgrades to live up to the Shelby name. After the Mustang's unveiling, it was clear that Ford's new pony car was the blank canvas that Carroll was looking for. At that point, the 1965 Shelby GT350 was born.
The Shelby GT350 fit in perfectly with Shelby’s history. It was a road-course oriented track car. Not only was the GT350 was pretty quick in a straight line, but this variant of the Mustang was meant to turn. With various upgrades from the high-performance 289-4V engine to the hood scoop, functional side scoops, suspension modifications, optional Paxton supercharger and more, the Shelby GT350 took the Mustang and made it an entirely different animal around the turns. With 525 1965 GT350s in existence, the production numbers didn't hold a candle to the 500,000+ regular Mustangs that rolled off the assembly line. But that's part of what made them special.
1967 Shelby GT500
Fast forward to 1967 and the introduction of the GT500. Many thought it couldn’t get any better than the GT350 in 1965 and 1966, but then 1967 brought a Mustang with a beastly 427 cubic inch V8 under the hood. This beast was derived from the same engine used in Carroll Shelby's race team to take the top three spots in the Le Mans, thoroughly and famously destroying Ferrari. Over the last two model years, the Shelby Mustang had gained an incredible amount of popularity and really started hitting its stride. The '67 GT500 included aesthetic changes to back up its performance claims. Some of these like included features like quarter window scoops, side scoops, a functional hood scoop, a massive 427 cubic inch V8 under the hood and, of course, those signature Shelby stripes. It truly was one powerful muscle car for its time.
History has told us that Shelby intended for the GT350 to be a corner carver. The GT350 is a car that can tackle any backroad with ease and perform impressively well during a track day. The GT500, on the other hand, was more of a straight-line car. With such a heavy 427 cubic inch V8 hanging over the front wheels, the GT500 had gobs of torque to eat up the quarter mile in no time.
Modern editions of these two powerhouses have held true to Shelby’s original vision. The 2013-2014 Shelby GT500 is an incredible straight-line car with 662 horsepower under the hood thanks to a supercharged 5.8L engine capable of 200 MPH. And the newer 2015-2019 Shelby GT350 keeps true to its lineage almost perfectly, its engine’s a high-revving flat-plane crank 5.2L V8 that pumps out 526 naturally aspirated horsepower with an ear-piercing redline of 8,250 RPM. A track beast if there ever was one.
2015-2019 Shelby GT350
"sounds like a very angry Chewbacca"
With its unveil back in 2015, the Shelby GT350, and GT350R specifically, rocked the world with its long list of "wow” factors. The previously discussed 526 horsepower 5.2L V8 makes the majority of its power above 4,000 RPM all the way to its 8,250 RPM redline, just so you can shift into the next gear and do it all over again.
Did we forget to mention that the exhaust note sounds like a very angry Chewbacca? Thanks to the flat-plane crankshaft on the GT350, it gives this Mustang a completely different exhaust note than any other Mustang before. Pair that with some of the other impressive features like the carbon fiber wheels which not only help increase turn-in and ultimate driveability due to their inherent lightweight design but also turn heads left and right.
In MotorTrend's Head2Head up against the all-new Camaro ZL1, the GT350R still took the crown, despite the 6.2L Supercharged Camaro's additional 200 lb-ft of torque! To put it in perspective, the GT350R had been out for three model years at the time this Head2Head was performed in early 2017. The Camaro ZL1 had only been on the streets for a couple of months prior - and the R still wiped the floor with Camaro owners' tears!
All kidding aside, Ford and Ford Performance really set the precedent for what a modern American pony car should be with the release of the new GT350 and GT350R. It takes everything we knew about the Mustang in recent history and throws it out the window.
Revised 2019 Shelby GT350
Ford has upped the ante for the 2019 Shelby GT350 when it comes to chassis, suspension, and aerodynamic improvements. Perhaps the most notable improvement is the addition of new wheels and tires. Specifically, the new tires -- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 rubber with a GT350-specific tread pattern -- this tire is similar to the ones featured on the GT350R and available with the new GT Performance Package - Level 2 cars. These tires alone will deliver better acceleration, handling, braking and improved overall feel of the car.
Additionally, 2019 GT350 owners will see an updated spoiler on the rear and have the option of adding a Gurney flap for even more efficient aero. The engineers over at Ford Performance also took the liberty of revising the front grille a bit to allow less air through into the engine bay. Why? Because that causes drag which can slow the car down in those long straights. Because of this, Ford Performance engineered just enough room to allow cool air into the engine bay while keeping the drag coefficient as low as possible.
On top of the wheels and tires, the 2019 GT350 will receive a revised MagneRide calibration along with upgraded springs and revised shocks which will allow for an even better driving experience (and track times). Along with all of these go-fast upgrades, Ford has also added some interior bits to wrap the package all together! It will be great to see how this car performs up against the upcoming Shelby GT500!
2020 Shelby GT500
"Most powerful street legal Ford-ever"
The unveiling of the new 2020 GT500 at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show confirms the rumors that have been circulating since its official announcement. The upcoming GT500 will be one heck of a force to be reckoned with. In previous spy shots, the new GT500 was spotted benchmarking a Porsche 911 GT3 -- a car that will likely be 2x its MSRP.
Here's are some of the highlights for the 2020 Shelby GT500:
- 760 horsepower, 625 lb-ft of torque
- 5.2L Cross-plane crank engine, with a 2.65L supercharger on top.
- TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission
- Brembo brake calipers- six piston front and four piston rear. Two piece ventilated brake rotors (420mm in the front, and 370 mm in the rear)
- 20” high-gloss black flow-formed aluminum wheels
- Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Optional)
- Composite carbon-fiber driveshaft
- MagneRide Damping System
- TORSEN differential with 3.73:1 rear-axle ratio
There's no doubt that the GT500 will dominate the streets upon its release. The Shelby lineage holds true through every aspect of its design. The new GT500 is set to be a Hellcat-killer with 760 horsepower. This is possible due to a cross-plane crank version of the 5.2L V8 out of the GT350 with an Eaton supercharger slapped on the top. What does all of this mean? Let's just say with these rumored numbers that it will be the fastest production Mustang ever.
Some of the options for the GT500 include a Carbon-Fiber Track Pack, which will add 20” carbon-fiber wheels, adjustable strut top mounts, exposed carbon-fiber instrument panel, exposed carbon-fiber GT4 track wing, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 Tires, RECARO leather-trimmed seats, splitter wickers, and a wheel locking kit, while getting rid of the rear seat. These are some of the features that make the GT350R such a track beast.
Some of the other features of the GT500 will include an aggressive front splitter, an exclusive rear splitter, a functional hood vent with removable rain tray, and of course the electronic line lock, launch control, and track apps that we’ve come to expect on our performance-oriented Mustangs.
Shelby GT350 vs GT500
As for the GT350, it's always been known as a road car, something that carves corners and does it extremely well. Hence, the GT350's focus on an excellent suspension system, wide, sticky tires, lightweight carbon fiber wheels, and a high-revving naturally aspirated engine - truly what makes an excellent car suited for track use.
The GT350 and 350R have won numerous awards in recent years, earning their continued reputation as fast performance vehicles that can take on cars several weight classes above them with ease.
Queue the GT500 in all its raw and untamed power. We're sure that it'll probably take turns well, but the GT500 has always been the ultimate drag Mustang. Now, with the release of the Hellcat and Demon from Dodge, it's a tall order to develop a GT500 or Cobra that will take on the quarter mile in the same fashion. But, with the horsepower numbers we're hearing, it could definitely be possible given the automatic transmission, more power and less weight in comparison to the Dodge. The current rumors are saying that this GT500 could have a 0-60 time of 3.5 seconds, and a quarter mile of 11.
We can’t wait to see the new 2020 GT500, and we hope that you’re as excited as we are to see the modern iteration of a car that’s earned its legendary reputation.
2020 Shelby GT500 vs 2020 Shelby GT350: Quick Stats
|Stat||2020 Shelby GT500||2020 Shelby GT350
||10.61 @ 133 MPH
||12.3 @ 117 MPH
|Horsepower + Engine
||760 hp, supercharged 5.2 liter V8
||526 hp, 5.2 liter flat-plane crank V8
||7-speed Dual-Clutch Automatic
||6-speed Tremec TR-3160 Manual
||Length: 190.2 in
Height: 53.8 in (Track)
Width: 81.9 in
|Length: 188.9 in
Height: 54.2 in
Width: 75.9 in
||4,225 lbs (approx.)
||16 MPG, city
26 MPG, hwy
19 MPG, combined
|Fuel Tank Capacity
||180 mph (governor limited)
||180 mph (drag limited)
Image Credit: Ford | Mustang360 | AutoEvolution | Mustang6G | MotorTrend | Car & Driver | Sources: Jalopnik | MotorTrend