Michael Johnson Associate Editor, 5.0 Mustangs & Super Fords
April 10, 2012
Photos By: Steve Turner

Don Gress
2008 Shelby GT500

Don Gress is no stranger to putting his Shelby GT500 through its paces. He's had his Shelby up to 172 mph on Daytona International Speedway's high banks. As a matter of fact, Don's pushed the envelope far enough to turn the original short-block into scrap metal. To get back into the game, Don enlisted Modular Mustang Racing to put together one of its Mod 1500 rotating assemblies. Don used a GT500 iron-block, doing the machine work himself, and putting it all back together with Champion Racing Heads-ported stock castings. With a Kenne Bell 2.8 supercharger, power is not a problem; with a built short-block, neither is durability.

Don and his wife, Melissa, obviously know your author likes Motley Crue. Don had the Crue cued up for me when we started the Ride & Drive portion of the competition, but let's back up. Don's GT500 features a Maximum Motorsports six-point rollbar with swing-out doorbars, making entry and exit a breeze. Plus, it features stock belts for daily driver capability, but also G-Force five-point harnesses for "spirited" driving. Everything on Don's GT500 is built for spirited driving.

Back to the stereo, Don's Shelby features a Shaker 1000 system but with a Kicker upgrade. The only time my Crue sounded better was when I was 20 feet from them at the St. Pete Times Forum. So with the volume up, it was time to see how Don's GT500 behaved on the street.

To stand up to the abuse of roughly 800 rwhp, his GT500 features a clutch that is a little grabby. That's to be expected. The brakes--consisting of AP Racing drilled and slotted rotors up front and Baer Eradispeed 14-inch rotors out back, Hawk Performance brake pads, and the factory Brembo calipers--weren't quite equal to the acceleration of the Kenne Bell-fed 5.4, but it was close. Since Don lives in Florida, it was no surprise to find his Shelby's A/C system serving up a heavy dose of cold air to go along with my Crue. Cold A/C, Motley Crue, and roughly 800 rwhp...how can you go wrong?!

Well, there were a couple things not so right with Don's Shelby. I don't know why, but there's a clunk when going over bumps with several aftermarket K-members. Going over a few of the bumps, Don's car produced that clunk.

Plus, his Cobra Jet tach's mounting point on top of the dash greatly hampered road vision--to the point that I couldn't help but wonder if he's ever hit something. I've hit things with a clear view of the road, so to say I was worried about hitting something while at the wheel of Don's GT500 would be an understatement. And he employs a bungee-like cord to help hold the Shelby center stack gauge pod in place.

But all in all, Don's Shelby was relatively quiet when just cruising, but Dynatech/Borla exhaust system components make themselves known under heavy throttle, and the sound is intoxicating.

KOTS Score
Horsepower:7 (793 hp)
Ride & Drive:8
Fit & Finish:7
Drag Race:6 (10.82 e.t.)
Popular Vote:9
Final Score:70.5

5.0 Tech Specs

2008 Shelby GT500

Engine and Drivetrain
Block Stock iron 5.4
Crankshaft Kellogg, polished and cryo-tested
Rods Manley Pro-Series billet
Pistons Manley forged w/Total Seal rings
Camshafts Ford GT
Cylinder heads Champion Racing Heads-ported Shelby GT500 w/Comp Cams Beehive valvesprings, stock followers, and valve lash adjusters
Intake manifold Kenne Bell intercooled lower
Power Adder Kenne Bell 2.8-liter supercharger
Fuel system Dual in-tank fuel pumps w/stock lines, Evolution Performance fuel rails, and Bosch 105-lb/hr fuel injectors
Exhaust Dynatech 17/8-in long-tube headers w/matching 3-in H-pipe, and Borla axle-back exhaust w/Stinger mufflers
Transmission Stock TR6060 six-speed w/SPEC P-Trim Super Twin, FRPP shifter, and Dynotech aluminum driveshaft
Rearend 8.8, Eaton Detroit Truetrac differential, FRPP 3.73 gears, Moser Engineering 31-spline axles, FRPP rearend girdle

Engine management Stock w/Tuners Inc. tune
Ignition Stock, NGK TR6 spark plugs
Gauges FRPP Cobra Jet tach, Super Snake three-gauge center pod