The 2020 Shelby GT500, Meet The New Boss.

By Author: Harvey Briggs, Date: Oct 29, 2019
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Las Vegas is a town of excess and seemingly endless energy which makes it the perfect place for the introduction of the most powerful street car Ford has ever made, the 2020 Shelby GT500. Pumping out 720 horsepower at 7,300 RPM and 625 pound-feet of torque at 5,000, it’s exactly what you’d expect, and so much more.

The tidy package makes driving on winding road and track a joy
Ford says 10.7 for the quarter mile. My best time was 11.3 seconds and 130 miles per hour. Clearly I need more time at the strip.

Powered by a supercharged 5.2-liter V8 that’s mated to a lightning quick 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission (sorry purists, no manual is available), this Mustang is both quick and fast. 0-60 happens in just 3.3 seconds, and Ford claims it’ll to the quarter mile in just 10.7 at over 130 miles per hour. I believe them, because even though I’ve never run on a drag strip before, I was able to turn an 11.3 at 130.89 MPH on the strip at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, thanks to the line lock and launch control features, and I saw experienced drivers hit 10.9. Given that the track is at 2,000 feet of elevation and the temps were near 90. I could see a pro driver easily hit that claimed time.

But even though the sound and fury on the drag strip was everything I expected from a pony car making so much power, I wasn’t prepared for the experience that awaited me on the road course. You see, the GT500 has traditionally be the drag racer’s Mustang, while the lighter GT350 has always been the road racer’s choice. For this newest generation, the GT500 is almost 500 pounds heavier than the GT350 and I expected the extra mass to cause problems on the tight, 12-turn, 2.4-mile road course at the speedway.

The advanced chassis work which includes magneride suspension and track tuned stability control make this one great handling Mustang.

Riding around the track for my familiarization lap with Le Mans and Daytona winner Billy Johnson, he pointed out the cones marking braking zones, turn in, apex, and track out points for each curve and as he did, he kept stressing how late and hard he wanted me to brake and how early he wanted me to get back to full throttle coming out of the corners.

Big brakes and direct steering make the GT500 a track monster

Stomping on the binders – 16.5-inch rotors with 6-piston Brembo calipers up front – engaged the ABS system which works so seamlessly you barely feel the pulsing on the pedal. The 4,200 pound car barely dives and there’s almost no wandering as the massive 20-inch Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires claw the pavement. With the electronic power assist steering set to sport mode, the weight is just right for smooth transitions for the turn in and moving from the brake to the throttle with my right foot, I feather it as I near the apex. Here’s where things change.

In the GT350, with it’s 6-speed manual transmission, you have to exercise patience and wait until the front tires are straight before burying your right foot. For the GT500, Ford Performance engineers have developed a unique stability control system to manage the massive amount of power. It allows you return to full throttle almost as soon as you clip the apex. I kept waiting for the rear end to loop around with power oversteer, but it never happened. Surprisingly, the stability control never became intrusive cutting the power and causing the Mustang to bog down.

In just three laps I was driving deeper, accelerating earlier, and hitting higher speeds than I expected. Letting the DCT do it’s thing – it’s logic is way smarter than I am – it shifted perfectly each time making sure I was right in the powerband. Even with the extra weight and power, thanks to the stability control and the automatic DCT, this is an easier car to drive fast than its little brother.

Beware of snakes in the desert

The GT500 is also better on the street than the GT350 where that extra weight adds to stability and though I didn’t spend much time on rough, uneven road surfaces, there didn’t seem to be as much tramlining and wandering from the Cup 2 tires as they searched for grip. The GT500 is downright docile in normal mode. Driving on winding mountain roads above Las Vegas, the GT500 never felt lumbering or out of place. The only challenge you’ll have is trying to keep it at the speed limit, it’s so easy to drive fast. But you can switch the active exhaust to quiet mode to keep your neighbors from complaining when you fire it up in the morning for a weekend drive or come home late after burning a few dozen dead dinosaurs.

Deep bolstering provide plenty of support for the track, with plenty of comfort for the street

Inside, the GT500 is all Mustang. The optional Recaro seats compromise comfort for support, especially with the thigh and side bolsters. For those not interested in heading to the track, you can choose more comfortable seats with suede inserts. The alcantara performance steering wheel feels great. Paddle shifters allow you to take control of the shifts if you’d like. Instrumentation is familiar and the Sync 3 system with B&O Play premium audio sounds great if you ever get tired of listening to the engine which will begin to drone on at highway speeds if you have the exhaust set to sport mode.

The configurable instrument panel has a special screen for the drag strip

The Shelby GT500 comes standard with 20-inch alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. There are two optional handling packages, the first adds splitter wickers and a a rear hybrid spoiler/wing. Opt for the Carbon Fiber Track Package and you get Cup 2s mounted super light exposed carbon fiber wheels from Carbon Revolution in Australia, front splitter wickers with an integrated dive plane, as well as a rear wing that adds almost 600 pounds of downforce at 180 miles per hour on the track. Generally, I’m not a fan of wings on street cars, but this one works for some reason.

The 2020 Shelby GT500 has 50% more open grill up front than the GT350 to feed the 2.65-liter roots-type Supercharger that adds up to 12 pounds of boost

Back in 1967, the original GT500 created a sensation by stuffing a 355 horsepower 428-cubic inch V8 under the hood. The numbers it generated were impressive for the time: 6.5 seconds 0-60 and 15.0 in the quarter mile at 95 miles per hour. I was lucky enough to drive the original at this event courtesy of the folks at Hagerty Insurance who pulled theirs out of the garage so we could see how far the car had come.

The original and the current GT500 in Grabber Lime

All I could think about as I cruised at 70 miles per hour on a two-lane highway just outside the track was no matter how much we romanticize the original muscle car era, it’s clear that there’s never been a better time to be a car enthusiast than now. The 2020 Shelby GT500 is light years ahead of the car that inspired it. Quicker, faster, more comfortable, more reliable. Yes, at $70,300, it’s a little pricier than the $5,000 sticker on the original. But then we’re also willing to pay $5 for a cup of coffee, when it was a dime back in the ’60s.

One of our compatriots found out the 2020 Shelby GT500 is not invisible to radar

The Shelby GT500 is a car designed to make you feel like a hero behind the wheel. From the haunting sound of the exhaust to the brutal acceleration, powerful brakes, and magical chassis, it urges you to go faster, brake later, and channel your inner Ken Miles every time you hit the track. And that’s the one problem with the GT500. The sticker price is just the start. If you own this car, you’re going to need a membership at Autobahn Country Club, Monticello Motor Club, Thermal, M1 Concourse or whichever private track is near you. It’s just too fast and too good to limit it only to the street.

2020 Ford Shelby GT500
Two-door, four-passenger, high performance sports coupe.
Base price: $70,300
Price as tested: $94,760
Major options: Carbon Fiber Track Package ($18,500), gas guzzler tax ($2,600), vinyl stripes ($1,000), Twister orange paint ($495), destination and delivery ($1,095)
Engine: 5.2-liter supercharged, double-overhead cam V8
Transmission: 7-speed DCT with paddle shifters
Power: 760 HP @ 7,300 RPM
Torque: 625 ft.-lbs. @ 5,000 RPM
Curb weight: 4,225 (estimated)
0-60 MPH: 3.3 seconds
Quarter mile: 10.7 seconds @ 133 MPH
0-100-0 MPH: 10.6 seconds
EPA MPG: 12 city 18 highway 14 combined

Owners of the GT500 will want to have a special Michelin fund for new tires
Twister Orange is one of the special colors available on the GT500
It also looks good in Grabber Lime
author-img
Harvey Briggs

Harvey Briggs is the Founder, Editor, and Publisher of Rides & Drives. He has also written for Car and Driver, Winding Road, and the luxury lifestyle blog, Pursuitist.com. His passions run from fast cars, small planes, boats and motorcycles to music, travel, and sports. When he's not on the road testing the latest cars, he been known to turn up on stage playing rock and blues guitar at clubs around his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. Follow Harvey's adventures on Instagram and Twitter @harvey_drives and find him on Facebook. Though keeping up could be a problem. As Harvey says, "If I don't slow down, time can't catch me."

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