Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
February 8, 2007
The traction control switch might be disabled in the Shelby GT-H, but not on the GT. With gears and extra grunt, it's ready to make a smoke show. Bill Deister of Motor City Solutions was kind enough to do the honors for us. Believe it or not, this sort of stuff is his job!

Horse Sense: Think of the Shelby GT and GT-H as truer Shelbys that the Ford-built GT 500, as their upgrades are actually installed at Shelby Automobiles [(702) 942-7325); www.shelbyautos.com] in Las Vegas, Nevada. For some insight on how the Shelby GTs go together, check out our story on the Shelby GT-H ("History for Rent," Dec. '06 p. 42).

From the moment Ford announced the Shelby GT-H would enter the Hertz rental car fleet, Mustang fans wondered how they could buy one. You'll eventually be able to buy one from a dealer who buys one from Hertz, but those limited cars are sure to command a premium price. To answer the demand for something between the world-beating Shelby GT 500 and the standard GT, and fulfill its mission to have a "steed for every need," Ford once again turned to Shelby Automobiles to create the Shelby GT-a car that's functionally identical to the Shelby GT-H, but offers a unique aesthetic.

For those who haven't been following all the emerging Mustang variants, the Shelby GTs and their GT-H brethren travel to Shelby Automobiles' Las Vegas facilities as stock Mustang GTs. There, the Shelby crew installs a full complement of the engine, suspension, exterior, and interior components transforming the car into a 325hp Mustang with Shelby heritage.

Much like the GT-H, the Shelby GT receives a more aggressive front fascia, billet grilles, silver Le Mans stripes instead of gold, 18-inch wheels, Shelby lettering across the trunklid, and hood pins. The only true difference is the hood. Where the Shelby GT wears a stock hood with an add-on scoop, the GT-H gets a sweet, vented hood, reminiscent of the hood on the GT 500 concept car. If you want to add one to your Shelby GT or any other 'Stang, Shelby sells the hoods for $749 (PN SHE-2101). Inside, the Shelby GT gets so-labeled doorsill plates and floor mats, as well as a Hurst shifter and a Shelby GT ID plate between the center A/C vents.

Where Ford and Shelby created only 500 or so GT-Hs, the companies are combining for thousands of Shelby GTs. Such plenitude should keep adjusted dealer markups down and enthusiasts' spirits up.

When it comes to the engine and suspension mods, the Shelby GT has the same gear as the GT-H, and it's right out of the Ford Racing Performance Parts catalog. Extra power is courtesy of the FRPP Power Pack, adding a 90mm cold-air, a high-flow exhaust with an X-shape crossover-OK, that part's not in the '06 catalog-4.10 gears, and a custom calibration. Helping put the power down is the Handling Pack from FRPP, which bolsters the chassis with a strut-tower brace and stiffens the suspension with lowering springs, front and rear sway bars, and dampers designed by Multimatic Motorsports, the company that created the FR500C race car.

All that sounds good, but what's the car really like? Fortunately for us, Ford brought all its steeds down to Moroso Motorsports Park in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, immediately preceding the Miami International Auto Show, and allowed us to have at them on the Moroso road course. Unlike many press programs we've attended, this one featured a stock Mustang GT, which was a great help. My first few laps were in the Shelby GT. I liked it-I intrinsically knew it was better than the stocker. It accelerated briskly and cornered well. But it wasn't until I got behind the wheel of the standard GT that I knew how good the Shelby GT and GT 500 were.

What's all the more impressive is we know how much better the latest GT feels than its predecessor. It cornered well, despite some body roll, as it eventually dug in and did your bidding. Acceleration was good, but the rev limiter was too low, meaning we'd have to up-shift immediately before the braking zone on some of Moroso's turns. All in all, it felt great for a base car.

Just for confirmation, we hopped right back in a Shelby GT for a back-to-back-to-back comparison. Shelby's GT takes the turns with much surer hooves. It's flatter and more under control, yet doesn't give up much ride quality. With the gearing and additional power, it gets out of the turn better. With the higher rev limiter, we could charge into some corners without up-shifting. In all, the Shelby GT was a blast on the road course, and we'd have no qualms about driving it daily. In fact, Moroso was the site of our only road-course experience in the '01 Bullitt, which was a modest but enjoyable upgrade to the Mustang GT of the day. The Shelby GT has the same feel. It's better than the Mustang GT, carries a lot of the parts you would add anyway, and has a full factory warranty and Shelby heritage to boot.

For a projected mid-$30,000 price tag, the Shelby GT serves as a respectable bridge between GT and GT 500.