There it was, staring at me in all its Lime Gold glory.
Sparkling and ready for a ride down Woodward Avenue, the 67′ Shelby Cobra GT500 was spectacular. The color, not loved by all but admired by yours truly, brought out the carefully conceived design lines of the past that quicken the hearts of muscle car fans everywhere.
I was lured in by every angle and curve. A true piece of art lay before me.
There was another car in the room.
Concealed by an ominous black shroud, who was the partner? Only time would tell.
As I wrote in my “Year in Review” post just a couple of weeks ago, “looking back can propel us forward”. That was definitely true in this case as Jim Owens, Ford’s Mustang Marketing Manager, who also spent time working for Carroll Shelby for a time before returning to Ford, reviewed the legacy of the GT350 and GT500 that brings us to this modern-day moment.
Jim Farley, Ford’s President of Global Markets, seconds the motion, “Carroll was always working on the next faster Shelby. I think he would love this Mustang more than any other.” “A takedown artist, the new Shelby GT500 will surprise supercar owners with its Ford Performance racing tech, supercharged engine and visceral swagger.”
Launching a new product, no matter what it may be, is tricky. Exposure is desired but only when ready and usually the release of information is conducted like a symphony, one of this magnitude, secrecy. I was honored to be included and anxious to see the powerhouse as it lie in wait just steps from me.
As Jim Owens concluded his introduction, he and Jiyan Cadiz, North American Car Communications and Media Relations Manager did the honors as the shroud was rolled back to reveal what we came for, our first look at the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500.
As I stood pondering the magnitude of the moment, my first thoughts were how agile it looked. Clad in Twister Orange, the black and carbon fiber accents stood out. The hood was huge, but not bulky. The design was tight and simple. It exudes power at a glance.
My eyes notice the Carbon Fiber Track Package that includes a stylish GT4 adjustable track wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive plane. Carbon Fiber Revolution wheels stand out as the stance is accented by 20 inch front Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and 0.5 inch wider rears. Inside, just two front seats occupy the cabin in optional Recaro style.
Entry-level GT500s, according to Jim Owens, are “straight line beasts” and don’t have the extensive down force options applied. Rear seats are included and it has an angled spoiler. A Handling Package added brings moderate lateral control to the entry-level from adjustable strut top mounts and a spoiler with Gurney flap.
“With a double front grille opening and 50 percent more cooling pack airflow versus the Shelby GT350, along with the most advanced aero components and downforce we’ve ever offered, every millimeter of Shelby GT500’s fastback design is aimed at improving performance,” said Melvin Betancourt, Chief Mustang designer.
Performance is right. Using it’s 5.2-liter supercharged V8 it will produce over 700 horsepower to this street-legal monster. 0-60 in the mid-three second range and less than eleven seconds for the quarter-mile, say hello to the new son-of-speed.
Six heat exchangers promote the “50 percent more air flow” and who can miss the 31 x 28 inch louvered hood vent with its removable aluminum rain tray. Looking at the fascia, one can see the six openings that contribute to air flow as well.
Powered by a first-in-class dual-clutch transmission, the TREMEC® 7-speed shifts in under 100 milliseconds. Bye-bye manual gearbox. Race-tuned active chassis drive modes normal, weather, sport, drag and track give flexibility unlike any other muscle car via its Track Apps. Ford Performance adds an active MagneRide suspension promoting lateral acceleration higher than any other Mustang that has come before it. Let’s just say that this suspension senses the world around it and adjusts before any performance is lost.
This GT500 hosts the largest front brake rotors, supplied by Brembo®, found in any American sports coupe today. It takes powerful brakes to stop 700 horses, the Brembos fit the bill.
Melvin smiled as he described one of his favorite things about the design, the Cobra badge found in three locations, as he and I walked around his team’s creation. “It is the biggest snake in the history of Shelby.” He goes on to say, “…when you see the car in the rear view mirror you’re going to see this face that is angry and is asking you to get out of the way and its going to push you out of the way with the snake. And if it passes by you you’re going to see it on the fender, and if it passes by you again you’ll see it in the rear. So without a doubt you know what it is.” I think that’s some of the “visceral swagger” that Jim Farley was talking about.
“Create an advance design to maximize aero performance and manage thermal” was the goal for Melvin. Working with his team and others from Ford Performance, Brembo®, Michelin, Tremec® and many more, they worked together to get the job done. Even wind tunnel testing came into play at Ford’s Motorsports technical center in North Carolina to glean every bit of information that would contribute to positive design cues.
As the two generations looked at each other I think Carroll Shelby was smiling. His “favorite car” was once again in the spotlight to carry on the fine tradition of the high performance Ford Mustang through the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500.
Little did that Lime Gold ancestor know what the future held.
Now we hold the future in our hands.
Click here for the full walk-around video from JulesOnWheelz on YouTube.
*Check out the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 this week at the Detroit Auto Show for yourself.
**The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will be available in dealerships this fall.