Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
May 15, 2012
Photos By: Jerry Heasley

OK, I'll admit it: I was somewhat intimidated when Gary Patterson yanked the car cover off the Shelby 1000 Mustang in preparation for my test drive. Even as Gary explains the car's tame, even docile street manners, I recall my experiences in 750hp G.T. 500 Super Snakes so I know that even that level of power can get you in trouble in a hurry. The Shelby 1000 adds another 250 hp--tacking on more horsepower than an '87 5.0L HO.

The obvious question is: Why does anyone need 1,000 horsepower for a street car?

Patterson, Shelby American's VP of Operations, is quick with a response: "Some people need that just to get to work."

For the past several years, Carroll Shelby has been talking about building a street car with 1,000 horsepower. In a 2008 interview, he told Mustang Monthly, "We're in a horsepower race with the Germans. They ain't going to win it. I've got 1,000 horsepower on the dyno right now and I'll go there if I have to."

With the new Shelby 1000, based on Ford's Shelby G.T. 500, he's not only gone there, he's set a new standard for production-based builds, not only for Mustangs but also for American muscle cars. Reaching the magic 1,000hp number is certainly worth boasting; doing it in a well-mannered street package is the Big News.

Introduced during the New York International Auto Show on April 6-15, the Shelby 1000 joins the Super Snake, G.T. 350, and GTS as a post-title package available from Shelby American's Las Vegas production facility. Saddling up 1,000 hp won't come cheap; pricing for the Shelby 1000 package wasn't established at press time, but we've heard rumors about "keeping it under $150,000."

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The first Shelby 1000 is Carroll's car. I was invited to drive it, not for testing purposes, I was told, because it was still under development. Regardless, I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to experience 1,000 hp in what Shelby American claims is a totally streetable package.

The road to 1,000 hp wasn't easy. For over three years, Shelby American explored twin turbochargers, going as far as building a concept twin-turbocharged G.T. 500 called Code Red (see "Shelby's Code Red" in the March 2011 issue). "It became very complex," Patterson told us. "By the time the project was finished, the Mustang body style had changed. And with that, the Ford electronics changed again. So the target kept moving."

But it was the technological advancement in large-capacity, twin-screw superchargers from Kenne-Bell and Whipple that convinced them to switch to supercharging. "You can take one of those and run with the Ford factory electronics, so tuning becomes easier," Patterson explains. "And driveability is like a regular car. You put the key in, turn it, and the engine starts, idles at 900 rpm, and doesn't give you any grief sitting in traffic."

The switch from twin-turbocharging to twin-screw supercharging didn't erase the time and effort put into Code Red's research and development. Many of the Shelby 1000's upgrades, from beefier engine internals to the 9-inch rearend, came from lessons learned while developing Code Red's engine and chassis to handle 1,000 hp.

Every Shelby 1000 will start life as a production '12-'13 Shelby G.T. 500. However, unlike other Shelby post-title builds, the engine is removed, then disassembled and rebuilt with upgraded components to prepare the bottom end for the rigors of high-horsepower. "According to Ford, the all-aluminum 5.4L can handle 1,000 hp momentarily but not continuously," says Shelby American Motorsports' Gil Nevarez, who headed up the Shelby 1000 engine development. "With the upgraded components, you can run the engine continuously at that level."

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