Courtesy of Ford Motor Company
September 6, 2012

I upped the rpm to 4,000, got my foot off the clutch quicker, and clicked off a 12.09/121-mph pass. It was a nice gain, but not perfect. For my last run in this rotation, I upped the rpm to 4,200 and the GT500 scooted from the line cleanly. I drove it down there with my right foot planted--it felt like the best of the three. The kid in the timeslip booth confirmed what I felt--he was all smiles when I arrived. "Finally, someone did it right: 11.93/121," he announced, handing me the slip.

With about 20 drivers hammering the Mustangs, this was more torture test than proper drag test. If anything, these machines are Timex-durable. Despite a myriad of techniques used for burnout and launch (some not so elegant), there wasn't a single failure--not a wisp of clutch, not a drip of coolant on the sizzling Atlanta pavement.

The engineers wanted more, so they Ford pulled one GT500 from the rotation for a 15-minute cool down. They used electric fans to lessen the blaze from the blower, but in reality it did very little. When I got back to the line, the Shelby was back at operating temp. I had a plane to catch, so there was just enough time for a few passes.

After the day's beating, the line was stripped of much stickiness. I preset the LC to 4,000 rpm and hoped for some bite. I staged shallow, put the throttle on the floor, and cut it loose on green. Initially I got the clutch out with a quick snap, then I paused my leg, waiting for the Mustang to transfer weight. At just the right moment, I let it out all the way and felt the rush of acceleration.

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The LC is a real driver aid, but like I stated, it rewards those with more feel. Dumping the clutch will still result in spin, followed by a reduction in power to allow hook. So, if you get the clutch out smoothly, you will hook better and realize less interference from the LC.

There was a slight eeek... eeek ...eeek from the Goodyears and the engine never pulled back on power--it was hauling with the fury and determination of every single horsepower. The 5.8L's heartbeat rose to 7,000 rpm, and with my right foot planted on the firewall, I tapped the clutch and yanked the lever into Second. The tail twitched and the tires chirped--acceleration was continual and brisk. At redline I found Third and got the same result as the previous gear exchange. You can actually feel the rush of boost as the rpm climbs.

Again, I saw the pumping fist from the smiling kid, who handed over the 11.817/123.25-mph slip. I backed it up immediately with an 11.890 at 121.63 and a spinning 12.081 hero attempt at 124.8 mph. The Ford guys said the next quickest run was 12.07. At a separate test after the launch we'd run as quick as 11.60s at 126 mph. We had a chance to drive a 3.73-equipped GT500 (no other mods) and it was 0.40 quicker!

The GT500 is a true masterpiece. It swallows up the road and track with amazing grace that is unrivaled anywhere. It is the ultimate Mustang. Ford, SVT, and everyone involved should be proud of this flagship model. It carries the name of an icon who said it's the best Mustang ever, and who can argue with Mr. Shelby?