Mike Ficacci
October 1, 2009

The gang at MM&FF loves a good drag test, so when we were asked to test the new 540hp GT500, we aired up the slicks and grabbed our helmets.

The newest GT500 is all about refinement-from the deepest electronics, including navigation and active handling, to the 5.4L beast of an engine, and on to the outer Snake skin, which has improved aerodynamics and awesome styling. It has 40 more horsepower than the outgoing model, and engineers put as much of their efforts into the suspension and body to produce what we feel is the best street-going Mustang ever. It corners and stops with race car precision, and has perhaps the best steering feel of any Mustang before it. But in the end, readers want to know how quick it can cover the 1320. While drag racing is somewhat primal, anyone can relate to quarter-mile elapsed times and instantly rate a vehicle's performance.

With that, we were itching to test the new Shelby, especially after our not-so-successful attempt during the Ford press launch. Running at Infineon Raceway (Sonoma, California) on a cold, unprepped track and with a stiff headwind, we clocked a disappointing 12.67 at 115 mph. Knowing the KR ran 11s in stock trim with the same hp left us wanting another shot. We got our redemption this past May at Englishtown, when Ford dropped off this tester fashioned in white with red Le Mans stripes.

Since we brought you the full '10 GT500 drive report (with technical specs) in the July '09 issue, we'll get right to the point of the matter.

A mild Second-gear burnout cleaned the M/Ts and got them ready for launch. All runs were made with traction control and active handling "off."

Like the KR, the new GT500 produces 540 hp and 510 lb/ft of torque, but it doesn't share the sticky 18-inch tires and 3.73 gears. Instead, it has longer-lasting Goodyear tires (19s on coupe models, 18s on convertibles) and a 3.55:1 final drive. Despite this, we still expected 11s. Best of all-we got them on the first try. Using Mickey Thomson E.T. Street tires (26x11.5x17-inch), we blasted into the 11.80s and 11.70s right off the bat at E-Town. Sure we made some runs using the stock tires, but we saved that until the end.

We encountered mild weather and a good track, but had trouble finding the sweet spot for launch, even with the M/Ts. On our first attempt we went with a 4,400-rpm launch, dropping the clutch and planting the throttle. The GT500 spun hard, then grabbed and bogged, resulting in an 11.85. Then we lowered the rpm to 3,800 and reduced the spin enough to run 11.78 at almost 119 mph. We also cooled the blower using fans for this run. A back-up run within a half hour gave us an 11.80 at 117.

We used a bag of ice and electric fans to cool the blower.

Knowing max power could only be had with a cool blower, we let the GT500 sit for 45 minutes, with ice chilling the blower and the inlet elbow. We then aired the tires down to 15 psi., performed a Second-gear burnout and staged shallow. Using another 3,800-rpm launch and a smooth clutch release produced the best 60-foot time of the day (1.77), and after three clean powershifts, we were on our way to an 11.592 at 118.45 mph, just one tick off the best time in the KR.

Considering the KR ran 11.589/122.16, we were pleased and decided to swap back the stock F1 rubber measuring 285/35ZR-19-inches. On our first try we ripped off a clean launch (1.91 60-foot) and despite spinning all the way through Second, we mustered an 11.95 at a screaming 120-plus mph. It was our best run on the stock tires. We attribute the big mph to the wheel spin and the shorter overall height. Looking back, the KR ran 11.928/120.77 on it's sticky 285/40/18-inch F1 tires.

Ford has put together a stout package that is relatively affordable and has amazing potential. With a few tricks, just about anyone could run 10s and still enjoy all that Ford has engineered into the car. Now we just need a long-term tester to prove our point.

{{{2010 Shelby GT500}}} Scorecard
Run60-Foot1/4-Mile/MPH
1.1.85211.855/117.66
2.1.{{{850}}}11.784/118.93
3.1.{{{825}}}11.805/117.36
4.1.77811.592/118.45
5. 1.91311.951/120.29*
* Run with stock tires; all other
runs with 26x11.5x17-inch Mickey
Thompson E.T. Streets