Jim Campisano Editor
July 14, 2006
Photos By: Randy Lorentzen

The '07 Shelby GT500 is the most highly anticipated new Mustang in history. And why not? When Ford decided to stuff a slightly detuned Ford GT supercar engine in America's favorite ponycar, it created a buzz never before seen in the four-plus-decade history of the breed.

Of course, the debate about how good it could be has raged in the enthusiast media since the GT500 show car was first revealed. We are here to announce that it's damn good. Go-into-debt-up-to-your-eyeballs good. Is it worth paying $20,000 over sticker to get one? Of course not. Ford will be, relatively speaking, flooding the market with them--8,000 or so per year for five years--so it's not like they will be rare. In other words, there will be more produced in the first two years alone than the sum total of all previous Shelby Mustangs. (For comparison's sake, SVT built 14,476 Cobras in the extended '03 model year and 5,664 in 2004.)

We've spent considerable seat time in the first Mustang to be branded a Shelby since 1970. We've flogged it on the infield road course at California Speedway in Fontana, on some challenging twisty roads outside of Berkley, California, then finally, two weeks later, in Michigan at Milan Dragway. Everything about it is worlds better than the current Mustang GT, from the seats and interior, to the appearance and the powertrain, to the tires and the handling.

The Eaton M122 flows 10 ci more air than the M112 that was used on the '03-'04 "Terminator" Cobras.

Let's start with the engine since, frankly, that's why most people will want this vehicle. There are two main differences between the dual-overhead cam 5.4-liter V-8 in the GT500 and the Ford GT. First, the former utilizes an Eaton Roots-style supercharger instead of a twin-screw design, thus reducing horsepower by a good 10 percent. Second, the version that goes in the Mustang has a cast-iron block with wet-sump oiling, while the GT uses an expensive aluminum block with dry-sump oiling. According to Hau Thai-Tang, Director, Advanced Product Creation and Ford Special Vehicle Team, the four-valve-per-cylinder heads and cams are identical.

The aluminum block was never considered for production because the cost to reengineer it solely for use in the Mustang would have been prohibitive and too much to pass along to the consumer, according to Thai-Tang.

The blower itself is an Eaton M122, which flows 10 ci more air than the M112 that was used on the '03-'04 "Terminator" Cobras. The M112 was simply too small to fulfill the needs of the hungry 330ci DOHC monster in the GT500. It is fed by a dual 60mm electronic throttle body, which draws air through what looks like the world's most restrictive airbox. As this story was being written, the final horsepower and torque numbers were unveiled. It makes 500 hp at 6,000 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 4,500.