Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Review
Power, Power and even more Power; incredible sound; owns the road; stands out like nothing else; it's a Mustang!
Cornering is a foreign concept to the Mustang; interior, pricing
- by Alborz Fallah - Photography - Tristan Schoonens
Holy S#$*! Those are two words I repeated constantly during the four day road test with the Shelby GT500 Mustang. This is the kind of car you would give up your first born for.
Stop whatever it is you're thinking, yes it's an American car, yes it can't go around corners faster than a Toyota Corolla and yes, the interior is relatively ordinary and the technology inside is no greater than a 2000 model Ford Falcon. Really though, would you care? I certainly didn't.
Can I bring your attention to the front of this car. Just stare at this picture for a few minutes and you'll get what I mean.
I've driven Bugattis, Koeniggseggs, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Aston Martins, Porsches and whatever other fancy car you can think of, but not one of them has managed the attention and looks that this Shelby Mustang gets.
I believe it's because the Mustang represents the ordinary people's hero car. Unlike the Supercars just mentioned, a Shelby GT500 Mustang doesn't say "I have more money than you" it doesn't say anything, it speaks directly to the soul of any car enthusiast.
Additionally, how many new Mustangs do you see on the road?
The original Shelby Mustang has long ago become an icon, based on the Ford Mustang, the Shelby variants went on sale from 1965 through 1970. Ford sponsored Carroll Hall Shelby's company to build the Shelbys to compete with the Corvettes of the day. It's been said that the original cars were sold at a loss simply for the sake of competition and branding. In 2007 Ford decided to revive the Shelby name badge for its fifth-generation Mustang.
I am going to have to mention the price of this car before we get into it, in the U.S. it's around the $45,000 USD which converts (today's exchange rate) to just $50,000 Aussie.
However the car is not available in right-hand drive and Ford has no interest in making it so, if you want a new Shelby Mustang, expect to pay around the $130-150k mark for it delivered, converted to right-hand drive, ADR approved and in your driveway. If you want to argue with the price, you can, but it won't change anything, this is not a car for everyone. You have to love the Mustang to get it.
For a car which is supposed to cost about the same as an XR8 Falcon, it makes perfect sense. It's brilliant piece of machinery for the $50k mark, however when you realise you're going to spend nearly three times that amount, you have to start adding the numbers up.
Yes, you can buy a BMW M3, an Audi RS4, Mercedez-Benz C63, heck, you can even buy a supercar killer, a Nissan GT-R for that money. I will also guarantee you that every one of those cars will beat the Mustang on any race track. But really, it's unfortunate that given the conversion costs, we must compare what is essentially an ex-Monaro/XR8/SS Commodore price range car to the ultra-luxury European cars. For that reason, I won't.
Back to the Mustang. In Australia I've found that there are four specific types of car lovers: you get the folks that love their classics, be it European, American, Australian or even Japanese. Then there is the Japanese car crowd, the GT-R, STI, EVO and anything else with a turbo that can be tuned. Moving on you have the Aussie car lovers, be it the blistering quick FPV F6 or HSV's monstrous V8s, these guys love their home-made performance cars. Last but not least, you have the European car lovers, the ones you see driving around in Ms, AMGs, RS-powered Audis, Porsches and of course, supercars.
So which group exactly does the Mustang appeal to? Pretty much all of them. It doesn't matter what sub-culture you associate with, when you see a Mustang, you stare, you might mumble something like "That looks nice, too bad it can't go around corners" but really, deep inside you wish you owned one because they have enormous road-presence.
During my four days with the GT500 I was asked a thousand questions. One that kept repeating itself was regarding the car's power output. Given it's called a GT500, I thought the 500 might have given it away, but apparently not. The Shelby is powered by a 5.4-litre supercharged V8 producing about 372kW (500bhp) and and an unbelievable 644Nm of torque. That means a 0-100km/h time of around 4.7 seconds.
Lots of cars come out with 0-100km/h figures that match or better that of Mustang, but let me tell you, in-gear acceleration is just ridiculous, it feels like if you do it enough times you'll change the earth's rotational velocity.
Keep it in second and plant your foot at about 40km/h and you and anyone else in the car will be glued to their seats until that brief moment where you reach for third and it all happens again. It's highly addictive and after about 30 minutes you'll have to find a petrol station.
Thanks to the Mustang's impressive T-56 six-speed manual gearbox (Shelby not available in auto - not that you should ever ask that question) changing gears in the Mustang is something your grandmother could do without too many hassles.
I'll admit, I've never been a big fan of American cars until now, they always seem far too big and oversized and Mustang is no different. It weighs in around 1800kg and measures 4.7 metres long, making parking a lot of fun.
Having picked up the car from Gympie, about 2.5 hours from Brisbane, I headed to the Sunshine Coast to catch up with a friend of mine that had taken the day off work just to see the car (apparently Mustangs can cause illnesses).
The most notable feature of the Mustang is its rather basic interior, it should put a smile on your face as you can at least appreciate how far the Australian car industry has come all by itself. Ford U.S. can do a lot by hiring some interior designers behind the current Falcon.
Nonetheless, you don't buy a Mustang for its interior comfort or great stereo, you buy it because it looks like it's going eat the other cars on the road, additionally it accelerates so hard in a straight line it will make you sterile.
Driving through the Sunshine Coast meant talking to what seemed like an unlimited number of car enthusiasts. "Nice car, mate" - "Is that real?" - "Can I please have a photo?" - "Can I have a ride?", it went on and on. How come no one told me "nice ride" when I had the Aston Martin DBS? How come people gave me the finger when I was in the Lamborghini Murcielago? Whatever it is the Mustang has, it certainly starts conversations.
A weekend in Brisbane with a Shelby GT500 Mustang. I had many ideas as to what I would do with the car, I wanted to essentially take it around as many social areas as possible and see what the reaction would be. That wasn't necessary, you simply have to drive it anywhere and it will create the social areas around it.
Driving through Fortitude Valley on a Saturday night in a red Shelby with white racing stripes is about as good as it gets. The car was stopped in traffic by pedestrians with camera phones out, people would pose, thumbs up were aplenty and not even one single hint of hate or envy. The Shelby truly is a people's hero car.
Sunday meant a drive up some twisty bends, a test that was almost pointless but one which I knew had to be done regardless. Now this bit is scary. I've never driven a car with so much power and so little handling ability. What you've heard is true, the Mustang is not built for corners, it struggles to say the least, you can accelerate flat out in a straight lines, confidently jump on the Brembo 14'-inch vented rotors and 4 piston caliper brakes (front) at the last second but when it comes to actually turning the wheel and going around the corner, God help you because the Mustang certainly won't.
It didn't matter that the Mustang couldn't go around a corner at speed though, it really didn't, I was still smiling. Every time I pushed the pedal to the floor the supercharger would begin to spin, if I could use that noise as my ringtone I would, but mix that in with the Ford built V8 orchestra and together you have one of the best sounding automobiles on the planet.
Whilst all that noise is being made the speedo is climbing, 40, 60, 80, 100, 110 (and no more of course...) it just keeps going. The inertia forces me into the seat and whatever force of nature that controls my emotions would make me grin uncontrollably.
One more go, just one more go, I said on the last day of my Mustang experience. The fuel bill was starting to get higher and higher (the incredible acceleration comes at a price). City driving is suppose to use around 16 litres of premium fuel per 100km but if you must know, the test was well and truly over 20L/100km, not that I would complain because for that sort of power the fuel is put to good use. Highway driving will be around the 11-12L/100km mark.
I love this car, I yelled on the drive back to Gympie. Of course I immediately realised no one else was in the car with me, but it didn't matter, I said it again. I absolutely love this car.
The team behind the conversion is Perfomax International, formerly know as Corvette Queensland. The Gympie-based company has been converting American muscle cars for decades and do hundreds per year. They are the biggest and most trusted converters of American cars in Australia.
The process takes a couple of months from ordering the car in the States, landing it in Australia and starting the conversion process. The majority of the work is all done inhouse by the Performax crew.
If you're worried about warranty issues, no need to be, Performax offers four-year/120,000 km warranty, with roadside assistance. If you're interested in buying a Shelby Mustang, you'd be happy to know the 2010 models are around the corner, they are based on the Shelby GT500KR and offer more power (400kW+) and a much better interior design.
Of course Performax is also taking orders for the Camaro which will be priced about the same as the Mustang. Apparently Dick Smith has already bought two Camaros so you better get in quick!
CarAdvice Overall Rating: How does it Drive: How does it Look: How does it Go:
- Engine: 5,409cc Valvetrain - DOHC V8 (32 valve)
- Power: 372kW @6,000RPM
- Torque: 644Nm @4,500RPM
- Induction: Cast-aluminum with screw-type supercharger and air-to-water intercooler.
- Transmission: Six-speed manual
- Driven Wheels: Rear
- Brakes: Type Four wheel power disc Front Brembo 14-inch vented and cross-drilled disc, four-piston aluminum calipers. 11.8" vented rear rotors with 2 piston calipers
- 0-100km/h: 4.7 seconds
- Quarter Mile: 12.6 sec @ 185km/h
- Fuel Consumption: 16L/100km
- Fuel Tank Capacity: 60L
- Fuel Type: Premium Petrol
- Airbags: Dual front, front side
- Suspension: (F) Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar; (R) live axle, coil springs, anti-roll bar
- Turning Circle: 11.2m
- Warranty: Three Year / 120,000 km
- Weight: 1763kg (Curb)
- Wheels: 9.5 x 18 in, cast aluminum
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