It's one of the most anticipated cars in recent memory. No matter where you've been in the last, probably 18 months or so, you've probably seen a reference to the 2007 Shelby Mustang GT500, either in a newspaper, magazine, TV, on-line - whatever. About the time you read this, the production examples are already well on their way to being tucked into garages across the land, but so far, very little has been said about how the GT500 actually is to live with on a day-in, day-out basis. Well, one day, we found a message in our inbox from Ford asking us if we would like to take a GT500 out on test for a whole week - that's right. Not on some closely monitored road course in-field for half an hour or around a giant parking lot at 40 mph, but on our own terms - for a week. You can probably guess what we said next.
Now normally, when a vehicle has been the subject of months of hype, it can sometimes be very difficult to live up to all the fuss. There has been plenty written about the GT500 already, but we wanted to find out on our own, exactly what this car's about and the things it can do. Let us start off by saying that visually, in a physical sense, it doesn't attract a whole fist of attention, at least by those who think it's just another Mustang. Some guy even came up to us and said "my brother bought one of those last year - he really likes it." However, pass by those who do recognize this car for what it is and you get a whole different reaction. We decided to take our Vista Blue GT500 (it was ours for the week remember), to a local cruise night. If we'd had any thoughts about leaving early, they were soon forgotten. Not five minutes after parking, the car was literally mobbed, we could have sworn people had risen out of the nearby drains that encircled the Burger King parking lot. They were all over it. No matter what brand of vehicle they drove, they kept inundating us with questions - one person even offered to buy it and almost wouldn't take no for answer, until that is, that we told him that the blue Shelby actually belonged to Ford Motor Company and no, they weren't taking bids.
So that was one thing. We can say, that from certain angles, particularly down low, the GT500 definitely has an aggressive appearance, with its shark-like front fascia and huge grille ensemble. The twin vents on the hood (they are functional) generated for and against arguments among our staffers, but generally the car looks quite a bit more purposeful than a regular S197. The 18-inch wheels and tires drew mixed reviews and the somewhat street rod like stance of the thing was also a love it or leave it kinda deal, though people seemed to like the rear spoiler, bumper and functional lower diffuser (it really worked in the rain). Overall, we'd have to say, that the Shelby is rather handsome and yet brawny in a fairly subtle sense.
Stepping inside, you're greeted with a good dose of familiarity, but there are a few little changes. Gone is the retro instrument cluster, in its place a more sporting tach and speedo (in reversed locations), but you can still select which color you want the binnacle to glow at night. Our test car was also blessed with option 68S - the leather trim package, so the whole dash was stitched in cowhide, as was the unique, Shelby sport steering wheel. The front seats represent some of the most comfortable in recent Mustang memory and bolstering is more than ample. There's a lot of sound deadening in this car and when you start it up it feels fairly quiet and muted - perhaps not as bad as a stock Terminator did, but still, for a muscle car, it's rather civilized.