Donald Farr
Former Editor, Mustang Monthly
September 15, 2011

It doesn't take a lot of consumer research for Shelby American president John Luft to understand that his average customer is, shall we say, more mature, ranging from 50 to 70 years of age. Those enthusiasts tend to remember the Shelby legend of the 1960s and want to relive it today with everything from Shelby dress-up items for their Mustang GTs to post-title performance packages like the GT500 Super Snake and GT350. They're also at a point in their lives and careers where they can afford to splurge a bit, in some cases paying more for a Shelby upfit package than the cost of the new Mustang it's based on.

Which brings us to the Shelby GTS, a recently-announced post-title package for the '11-'12 Mustang, either GT or V-6. Luft and the gang at Shelby American are particularly excited about the V-6 with its base package cost of $9,995. Add that to the $18,000-22,000 base price for a new V-6 Mustang and you're in a Shelby for around $30,000, something Shelby American sees as lowering the cost of entry for younger enthusiasts.

"It really reaches a younger buyer," says Luft. "Now a guy in his 30s or 40s can afford a Shelby, so it stretches the age bracket of the first Shelby experience. And it also meets the economic condition of the country by taking on the gas mileage issues. It makes more power with a smaller footprint."

"The V-6 Mustang is a particularly good platform for the Shelby GTS," adds Shelby American's vice president of operations Gary Patterson. "It's even lighter and more nimble than the Shelby GT. And the V-6 GTS makes about as much horsepower as the V-8 in the Shelby GT but with better fuel economy at a lower price."

Both Luft and Patterson see the new GTS as the rebirth of the popular Shelby GT from '07-'08. However, they note that it's a better car overall, built on the solid '11-'12 Mustang with its much-improved powertrains, a 305hp V-6 and 412hp V-8.

"Over 300 horses with the V-6 and over 400 with the V-8, right out of the box," reiterates Patterson. "And with the variable timing camshafts, they have great torque. Horsepower sells cars, but torque wins races."

Like other Shelby upfits, the post-title GTS package is installed at the Shelby American production facility, which means cars must be delivered to Las Vegas for the installation of the Shelby suspension, Baer brakes, and visual upgrades, including Shelby's deep-draw hood, side and LeMans stripes, and new fascias front and rear. A number of options are available to take the GTS to the next level, either during the initial build or added later.

Regular production of the Shelby GTS is expected to begin later this year, so only two promotional cars were available at press time, both with the 3.7-liter V-6. At the Mid-America Ford and Team Shelby Nationals, I got the chance to drive the naturally-aspirated V-6/automatic GTS on the Hallett Motor Racing Circuit road course. The automatic transmission wasn't ideal for the track, but I was still able to get an idea of the car's abilities. With the lighter V-6 engine and Shelby's handling package, the car feels light and nimble, allowing me to stick to the rear bumpers of GT500s in the turns. The Baer brakes are fabulous on such a light car. Coming out of the turns, though, the V-6 could use some help.

Which, of course, Shelby offers in the form of optional supercharging, either ProCharger, Kenne Bell, or Ford Racing's Whipple. "The supercharged V-6 car makes 475 horsepower," says Patterson. "I didn't stutterùa V-6 with 475 horses."

When it comes to making comparisons to the Shelby GT, we're looking forward to a chance behind the wheel of a Shelby GTS with the new Coyote 5.0-liter. Patterson compares it to the GT350: "Naturally-aspirated, you've got 430 horsepower with a Shelby calibration and exhaust. Or, like the GT350, you can supercharge it for 525 or 624 horsepower. You can take one of those and run quarter-miles in the 11s. How crazy is that?"

The GTS package for the Mustang GT starts at $11,995. Add that to a nicely-equipped '12 Mustang GT and you've got the modern equivalent of the '07-'08 Shelby GT in your garage for around $45,000. That's a lot easier on the wallet than the $60,000 needed for a well-equipped GT350.

With the Shelby GTS, Shelby American has succeeded in lowering the price of admission to the exclusive Shelby club. As a result, it will also lower the average age for Shelby ownership.

"That's the idea," says Luft. "We had the top-end covered with GT350s and Super Snakes. But unless you start covering the bottom end, your brand is destined to go away." MM

When it comes to making comparisons to the Shelby GT, we're looking forward to a chance behind the wheel of a Shelby GTS with the new Coyote 5.0-liter.

Shelby GTS Standard Features

  • Deep-draw hood
  • Custom front fascia
  • Billet black upper grille
  • Shelby/Baer 2-piston front brakes
  • Shelby/Baer Eradispeed rear brakes
  • Shelby/Borla performance exhausts
  • Shelby handling package
  • Shelby GTS side stripes
  • LeMans over-the-top racing stripes (black or white)
  • Shelby trunk lid letters
  • "Powered by Ford" side badges
  • Shelby CSM dash plaque and engine plate
  • Shelby GT engine cap set (V-8 only)
  • Shelby floor mats

Options

  • Shelby/Baer 6-piston front brakes
  • Shelby/Baer 6-piston rear brakes
  • Supercharger, Whipple or Kenne Bell (includes gauge cluster)
  • Watts link rear suspension
  • Caster/camber plate kit
  • Shelby/Eibach suspension
  • Rear spoiler
  • Wheel and tire packages (18- to 20-inch)
  • One-piece driveshaft (V-8 only)
  • Adjustable rear upper and lower control arms
  • 1-inch drop front lower ball joints
  • Bumpsteer kit
  • High-performance cooling package (V-8 only)
  • Quarter window block-off plates
  • Quarter window scoops
  • Custom interior upgrade
  • Shelby/Kicker sound system
  • Custom car cover

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