The original GT500 was the pin-nacle of the Mustang lineup. Introduced in 1967, the GT350's big brother featured a 428ci iron block V-8 complete with a cast-aluminum intake manifold and twin 600-cfm Holley four-barrel carburetors that produced a conservatively-rated 355 horsepower and 420 lb-ft of torque. And, of course, there was the design. Shelby gave the GT500 a signature look with a longer front end, fiberglass hood with a functional scoop, two intake scoops on either side, a subtle spoiler lip at the rear, Le Mans racing stripes, and taillights from the Mercury Cougar. The result was a muscle car icon that has influenced automotive design for the last 40 years.
With the introduction of the redesigned S197 Mustang in 2005, so too came the opportunity for Ford to build a GT500 that could live up to the original in both performance and looks. Thankfully, the team at SVT pulled out all the stops and came up with a car that Carroll Shelby could be proud of. Launched in 2007, the modern day GT500 also featured an iron block V-8 like the original, although this time in supercharged form, to produce 500 horsepower and 480 lb-ft of torque-the most for any production Mustang at the time. Capable of running down the dragstrip in less than 13 seconds in stock form, the GT500 was also one of the best performing. The look was distinctively Shelby as well, with a more aggressive front end, vented hood, a subtle spoiler lip at the rear, and plenty of Cobra badges inside and out.
New For 2010
With the complete refresh of the Mustang lineup for 2010, SVT once again had the task of building a GT500 that would live up to the legendary name. Unveiled at the Detroit Auto Show in January, the '10 GT500 showed plenty of promise-a new look, more horsepower, suspension updates, and a more refined interior compared to the last model. From the looks of it, Ford had delivered. However, we wanted to know firsthand, and were fortunate enough to secure an invitation to drive the new GT500 both on the street and on the track at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA. Does Ford's latest offering live up to the Shelby name? Read on and find out.
Reskinning The Snake
Before actually getting in the driver seat, though, we first took the time to look over the new exterior design changes. Doug Gaffka, the man in charge of designing the '10 lineup of Mustangs, knew he had a huge responsibility in penning Ford's latest Pony car. "When you do a Mustang you don't want to disappoint the customer, that's the most important part," he told us. With that in mind, he also wanted to give the car a more modern design. "I really wanted to get off the heritage approach totally and really do a more modern interpretation of where the Mustang is going." Using the '10 Mustang as a base, the new GT500 received all new sheetmetal excluding the roof. There are more curves and details, especially at the front end, that give the car a much more sculpted and muscular look. The dual grilles, taking styling cues from the legendary Shelby Cobra, are now more prominently featured, and the bulging hood provides a more aggressive appearance. The SVT team took the time to get even the smallest details right, like moving the Cobra logo to the right side of the grille to prevent any blockage of air to the intake in the left side of the grille. At the rear, the GT500 features the signature three-bar taillamps, although reshaped and now with sequential lights like in 1968, plus a low-drag rear spoiler with a Gurney Flap, and Shelby lettering that is now spread across the center of the car.