Inside And Underneath the Shelby GT500

Inside And Underneath the Shelby GT500

GT500 Track Tour highlights the timelessness and the technological advancements over the years.

Forbes / Cherise Threewitt / July 27, 2020

(Photos courtesy of Cherise Threewitt, Forbes)

A socially-distanced, masks-mandatory gathering in a parking lot in full July sun isn’t really anyone’s idea of a good time, but that parking lot was at Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Illinois, and it was worth it to see and drive the 2020 Shelby Mustang GT500.

“[There’s] no better time to be a performance enthusiast than right now,” said Jim Owens, the marketing manager for the Shelby Mustang stable. “Right now” doesn’t mean during a pandemic; instead, Owens was referring to Ford and Shelby’s technological advancements that make the entire Mustang line, from the EcoBoost base model to the Shelby GT350 and GT500, some of the best bargains on the market in terms of horsepower per dollar.

The original Mustang was designed as a touring car, rather than a race car. An accessible car for people who enjoy driving, rather than a statement piece. Yet, various Mustangs over the years have become statements regardless; automotive expert and historian Colin Comer’s flawless 1967 GT500 was on display alongside the new models, to highlight both the timelessness and the technological advancements over the years. The 7.0-liter beauty was significant at the time and highly sought after today, even though it’s eclipsed in power by today’s base Mustang, a turbocharged four-cylinder that can be yours for about $27,000.

These details clearly resonate with buyers. In fact, there’s been a 7 percent increase in performance purchases of Mustangs in the past year, according to various spokespeople for Ford. And, as it was also repeatedly noted during the event, the Shelby GT500 can handily beat cars that cost two or three times as much.

It’s clear that every element of the car has been carefully worked over. Here’s a closer look at some of the coolest features of the 2020 Shelby Mustang GT500.

When it comes to the GT500’s powertrain, the transmission is perhaps discussed more often than the engine. The supercharged 5.2-liter V8 is all well and good and traditional; 760 horsepower does the job nicely. No controversy there. But why, some performance enthusiasts may ask — and complain — is the GT500 available only with an automatic transmission? It’s not an oversight on the part of Ford and Shelby; there’s an answer, and a sensible answer at that. The Ford and Shelby teams chose Tremec for the seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission, which Ford’s spokespeople said performs shifts in the literal blink of an eye. Shelby insisted on making the GT500 as fast as possible, and this transmission is, simply, faster than a manual. A Tremec six-speed manual does, however, come standard on the Shelby GT350.