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Who Rips the Heart Out of a Brand-New Shelby GT500 and Modifies the OEM Powerplant? This Guy! And He’d Do It Again
Ready to Rumble
In high school Brian Arellano bought his first car, a 1983 Mustang GT. Backed with a 5.0L and a four-speed, this car really transformed the teenager. With that first Stang he morphed into a full-fledged, Ford flag-wavin’, Blue Oval–wearing gearhead and was soon itching to turn his potent little pony into a top neighborhood performer.
Arellano went ahead and modded it to his liking, adding much of the typical stuff a burgeoning Mustang aficionado would do. Headers, Flowmaster mufflers, and 3.73 gears were thrown to the mix right away, as were other typical affordable add-ons that were all the rage back then. And after all that hard work, getting the car into the 14s was enough to keep Arellano beating the Ford drum and moving forward with the hobby.
That particular ride stuck around for over 20 years, as the owner turned it into a true show and track car. By the time she was sold, the Mustang didn’t resemble the original car much, as he had really tricked the slick Fox-body out. Once this pony left the stable, Arellano would move on to other brands and a host of smaller engines. But after several years the craving came back to have some V-8 power under his foot. And only a Ford could scratch that pesky itch.
In 2005 the redesign of the Mustang body piqued Arellano’s interest. But it wasn’t until the 2007 Shelby GT500 came out that the styling grabbed him and wouldn’t let go. By 2008 he had located the car he wanted, a black 2009 GT500. Although it was exactly what he was looking for, Arellano decided to have the car upgraded before he even laid hands it. He had the dealer install a set of Ford Racing mufflers to the Shelby before it left on its journey to New York.
But that wasn’t the end of the modifications. Arellano searched out a topnotch shop to do work on his new Shelby. He ended up at Realspeed Automotive in Bohemia, New York. He had heard good things about the well-respected shop and decided to put the Shelby’s life in their hands. There, Black Beauty went through a list of modifications, which brought the horsepower tally up over 700 at the rear wheels.
When Ford released the last revision of the S197 body style along with the 5.8L Trinity engine in 2014, Arellano once again was ready for a change. He really loved the styling of the 2013 and 2014 cars, and was ready to search one out for his next purchase. However he felt that he needed to wait, just to get a glimpse what the new S550 was going to look like. Once he saw the renderings for the 2015 he knew that he really wanted the aggressive evil/angry looks that the 2014 possessed.
Shortly afterward Arellano got down to brass tacks and ordered up his 2014 GT500. It was packed with a small list of both aesthetic and go-fast goodies, like the Performance Package, glass roof, Recaro seats, and Electronics Package. When the Shelby was delivered in the spring of 2013, Arellano remembers vividly thinking, Boy, that thing looks mean! And he was right. The 2014 styling made it one of the most aggressive-looking rides that Ford ever put out. But once again, even though he was more than happy with his purchase, Arellano was already thinking about mods he could do to his new ride. He knew it looked badass, but now he wanted it to sound as badass as it looked.
But Arellano was cautious; while he wanted more performance from the stock powertrain, he didn’t want to mess with the streetability of the car. He was careful to devise a plan that didn’t disturb the everyday-driver manners of the almost-new Shelby, which still showed less than a thousand miles on the odometer. So the owner did his homework and found the solution he was looking for.
JDM Engineering out of Freehold, New Jersey, was Arellano’s savior. Known for race-bred Cobra Jets, the company offered a unique cam package for the GT500. It is the same cam setup that JDM uses on its NHRA competition engines in race-ready Cobra Jet Mustangs. Packaged along with a set of aftermarket valvesprings and ARP bolts, the guys at JDM told Arellano that their setup would give him the both the streetability and the rumble he desired, while still enhancing the Shelby’s overall power curve.
The installation was handled at Realspeed. Since the work was easier to do with the motor out, Realspeed decided to drop the engine and take it from there. At the same time, Arellano decided to install a set of 1 7/8-inch American Racing Headers with a full off-road 3-inch H-pipe exhaust.
Once the cams were in, tuner Dan Carlson performed his magic on the motor. The results were pretty spectacular, with the engine picking up over 100 hp to the back wheels. Best of all, the Shelby had that sound—picking up that deep lopey cam vibe that sounds flat-out evil.
The suspension mods include Steeda Sport springs, Steeda Billet lower control arms, and a Ford Performance adjustable Panhard bar. The Shelby rides on True Forged three-piece Concave 714 wheels, 20x10 up front and 20x11.5 out back. These wheels are wrapped with Toyo Proxies T-1 Sports 285/35/20 and Toyo R888 315/30/20. Other visual upgrades include powdercoated calipers, JLT dressup parts in the engine bay, and the blower polished up by Billet Pro Shop.
Arellano has a hard time expressing just how amazing this car is to drive. He loves the option of taking his wife Stacey out to a nice dinner with the air conditioning on, or hitting the road on his own and climbing to triple-digit speeds with just a shift from Third to Fourth gear. This nimble Mustang has no problem pulling 10s at the track and is streetable enough for the family. Future plans? How about a built block with an E85 conversion and a larger supercharger? With Arellano wanting to hunt down a 1,000-rwhp chassis dyno run, we say go for it!