Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
December 8, 2009

As you'll read elsewhere in this issue, we stepped up to sponsor Mustang Week this year. How we had never made it to this event before I'll never know, but once we signed on I was pretty stoked about packing the family up in a Mustang and making the trek up to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. For a fleeting moment I considered taking Project Vapor Trail, but the idea of cramming my wife's monster suitcase and my son's boogie boards and such atop PVT's KDezines/Pioneer audio system made me pass over that option in a hurry. While taking the Fox 500 hatchback would have been great, that thought was just a fantasy back in July.

So the question became what to drive to a week-long Mustang event. I couldn't think of anything better than the latest GT500, so I managed to borrow a '10 GT500 fresh off the delivery truck from Michigan. Of course, you have to be careful what you wish for.

You know I've raved about just about everything but the rear fascia of the '10 GT500, and I'm the owner of the prior model, so this was tougher duty than it sounds. I'm an early adopter that loves the latest and greatest, but conversely, I can't imagine parting with the cars I already own. As such, being tempted by the latest Shelby was a test of will power.

Of course, part of the reason to drive the car was to do some more testing, but the first step was the aforementioned road trip. It was pretty clear from previous experience that the latest GT500 is a powerful car with much-improved handling and a touch of panache. What wasn't clear was just how capable this car is as an every day driver. Not only did I fill the trunk like the back of an SUV and embark on a 9-hour, 500-plus-mile trip, I didn't think twice about it.

Sure the car was spankin' new, but it was also a 540hp rocket. We've all become spoiled by the manners of today's high-performance monsters, but it wasn't too many years ago that taking such a trip in a 500hp car would only be for the brave. Not so anymore, but it's the incremental improvements that elevate the car as a more worthy driver than its predecessor.

Topping the streetablity charts in the latest version is the revised clutch. Where the prior Shelby clutch was grabby and in need of just the right rpm for smooth engagement, the latest clutch is forgettable effortless. Moreover, the sharper handling does give up a bit of ride plushness but after considerable time in the driver seat, the difference is really negligable. The more I drove the car, the more I wanted to drive one every day. Additionally, on a road trip like the Mustang Week journey, the new GPS and SYNC meant no frustrating wrong turns and no fighting with fading radio signals. I switched back and forth from SiriusXM to my iPod to keep on rockin' down the road.

Upon arriving at Mustang Week the white-with-red-stripe '10 was like a light to mosquitos. The Mustang fans adored it from far and near. I received so many "nice car" and "thumbs-up" comments I started feeling weird. I couldn't take the time to explain to everyone that it wasn't my car but I wished it were. Of course, it didn't hurt that there weren't too many other '10 GT500s on the road at that point.

While at Mustang Week, I thought I might have time to get a little testing done too, but I didn't realize the size of the event or how busy I'd be. If I had tried to tech the car for drag night, I wouldn't have any photos to bring back of the event. I was, however, goaded by our sales superstar Glen Castle to take the car out on the autocross.

I have to say that the car impressed just like it did in San Francisco earlier this year. On my tentative learn-the-course lap, I somehow managed to lay down the second quickest lap of the evening, a 0.29 and change. This speaks far more to the handling of the car and the smarts of the stability control (I was running in Sport mode) than it does for my driving. When I tried to push it on the lap that counted, I just slowed down, but the car acquits itself well on the street and track.