PRO’s: 662 hp / 631 lb.ft. of torque, all day burnouts and power-slides, the perma-grin it puts on your face every time you drive it.
CON’s: Fuel economy, severe lack of traction, super stiff suspension in sport mode.
FINAL THOUGHT: I fear the 2013 Shelby GT500 is the last of the true muscle cars. Yes things must evolve (IRS rear, coil over suspension, etc..) but I’m glad Ford just said “F*CK IT” and built this thing anyway.
Balls, brawn and f*ck you; the three key ingredients that make up the 2013 Shelby GT500. Over the years Shelby Mustangs have gone through various configurations. When first released back in 1966, the GT 350 was a full-on performance car with a take-no-prisoners attitude and the grunt to back it up. However by the time the 1969-70 models came out, the trend had moved from full-on performance to more personal luxury. The same can be said for those models introduced from 2007 all the way up to 2010. Yes they were fast, and yes they had power, but in the end there was always something missing from the formula.
Enter the 2013 Shelby GT500, a car that grabbed some DNA from the original ’66 GT350 and then shot it up with an overdose of steroids thanks to the boys from SVT.
I’ll start this off by saying I’m a huge Mustang fan. So much so that I actually own a track pack equipped 2013 Mustang GT. However where the track pack GT and BOSS 302 cater to those who want more of a sports car in a pony car wrapper, the Shelby GT500 lends itself to those who simply want to own the biggest and baddest bazooka on the block. This is not a bad car mind you, moreover it’s one that deserves a fair amount of restraint and a huge amount of respect to be driven properly.
Pop the hood and you’re treated to one very big gun. A 5.8-liter supercharged V8 that pumps out 662 hp and 631 lb.ft. of torque. Each engine is hand built and signed by the technician that put it together. Now while having all that power is a wonderful thing, getting it down to the pavement efficiently is another story entirely. For instance, the Corvette ZR1, Camaro ZL1 and even a Porsche 911 all make less power, but on a road course, they’ll leave the Shelby for dead.
Understand that track manners are not what this car is about, I mean they are to an extent, but first and foremost this is a muscle car. That means big-ass smokey burnouts, huge power-slides and, if you can get it to hook properly, blisteringly quick runs down the quarter mile. From the beginning Shelby has done a wonderful job of balancing power and performance with style and flash, and this 2013 model is no exception. Visually this car is an in-your-face experience and if you look closely you’ll see styling queues that set it apart from the rest of the Mustang line.
The hood and front grille are unique to the GT500. The grille has literally been left open to help cold air reach the supercharger, while the hood, with its fully functional vent, lets hot air escape. Equipped with the SVT Track Package meant that our tester came with staggered rims running 265/40-19 tires up front, and 285/35-20′s out back. Other niceties include a Torsen differential with 3.31 gears, SVT engineered Bilstein dampers with selectable control and special rear springs. Out back a special high-rise spoiler helps airflow, as does the vented rear-diffuser located in the rear bumper.
Open the doors and you’ll find the same exact Recaro seats that you can order on a Base Mustang GT, however for the Shelby they’ve been treated to a leather and suede combo with some red racing stripes thrown in for good measure. The steering wheel also has the leather/suede combo and is actually quite nice, especially when combined with the sportiness of the cue-ball shifter that resides on top of the Tremec TR6060 6-Speed manual transmission. Other niceties include an in-dash touch screen that lets you control everything from your audio functions and navigation unit to your climate control and interior settings.
Now as some of you may or may not know I actually host a show on Youtube’s DRIVE Network called BIG MUSCLE about, you guessed it, muscle cars. I’ve driven everything from 1,200 hp Chevy Nova’s, to 600 hp Eleanor Mustangs, to everything in-between, and done so at speed. I’m also a licensed track instructor, own a 2013 Mustang GT and have raced in some of the most demanding events in the United States. So with that being said, lets get to how this thing drives.
First and foremost, it’s fast… like stupid fast. However getting it up to speed can be a chore if you’re not careful. Putting 630 lb.ft. of torque to the pavement through a solid live axle with a 285 series rear tire is not an easy thing to do. As even if you’re easy on the throttle, the power simply overwhelms the cars traction control system. If you’re looking for a hooligan car then you’ve found the best in the business, as burnouts and power-slides are what this thing lives for.
Get some heat in the tires, set the suspension and steering on sport and the car goes from straight line nutter to a pretty decent corner carver. The ride quality however suffers greatly in “sport mode” and is, in my opinion, to stiff for the street. Thankfully “normal mode” softens everything up to where you can live with it on a daily basis. The steering, even on firm, has a nice weighted feel and projects good feedback, while the SVT tuned suspension does a wonderful job masking the cars hefty curb weight of 3,891 lbs. Make no mistake though, this is a BIG CAR as compared to other vehicles with this type of power.
The key to driving this car spiritedly is throttle control. Get it right and it’s very rewarding, get it wrong and rest assured that you’ll be sitting in a ditch somewhere feeling like a schmuck. The other thing to take note of is that this car is deceptively fast. Your ass-dyno may tell you you’re only going 75 mph, but I can almost guarantee that the speedometer will be yelling “JAIL TIME” at the top of its lungs.
Brakes are beefy six-piston BREMBO units and they do a great job of hauling the Shelby to a stop. Some testers have found them to be inadequate, but personally, I think they’re fine. I ran through multiple panic stops with nothing but good results. As mentioned earlier the GT500 comes equipped with a Tremec TR6060 6-Speed manual transmission. It’s good, but very notchy to the point where each shift movement feels like two separate movements as opposed to one concise shift. It works fine, but it’s definitely not one of my favorites. The clutch is stiff and something that I wouldn’t want to live with on a daily basis, but as a second or weekend car I doubt there would be any complaints.
Fuel economy on this thing is terrible. Yes, you will get 23 mpg if you keep the car in 6th gear and cruise at 60 mph on a straight flat road. However with 662 hp on tap the odds of you doing that are about the same as you winning the lottery, so just put your foot down and enjoy it. Oh, and you may need to win the lottery as the 2013 Shelby GT500 comes with a price tag of $65,420. A bargain when you consider the power, but a hefty chunk when you realize it’s still a Mustang.
At days end what we have here is one of the last true muscle cars. It’s got huge power, a solid live axle out back, and lives for burnouts and the quarter mile. This is a proper muscle car and one that should be looked upon as so. Does it handle? Yes. Does is stop efficiently? Yes. Does it put a shit-eating grin on your face every time you turn the key? Double yes.
In short this car is bad-ass and worthy of the Shelby name. It’s got no finesse whatsoever, spits fuel at the environmental movement and is about as subtle as a tactical nuke as a peace rally. Therefore I must applaud Ford and Shelby for throwing “politically correct” to the wind and building one kick-ass automobile.
Job well done Ford, job well done.