As an automotive journalist some weeks are better than others. And some weeks are downright memorable.
This was one of those weeks as I had two very special cars to drive. More on the other car later this week here at Torque News. For now, let’s focus on the very memorable 2021 Shelby GT500.
I was set to speak before a couple of Mustang Clubs to promote my book Mustang by Design (available on Amazon). My speaking engagement was at the Halderman Barn Museum, which is a Mecca for many Mustang clubs in the Midwest. This time, I would arrive in style.
I asked Ford if they had anything special for me to drive to the event, hoping they’d put me in the brand-new Bronco. They didn’t have the new Bronco available yet for me, but instead they offered me up the Shelby GT500.
What a consolation prize that was! To be honest, there was no more apropos vehicle to drive to this museum devoted to design of the Ford Mustang. My friend Gale Halderman, who passed away last year, would have loved everything about this car. He was certainly there with me in spirit at his museum that he started.
As I pulled into the parking lot of the museum I was greeted by several tried-and-true Ford and Mustang enthusiasts. While some were happy to see me, they were more excited to see the Shelby. I wasn’t offended to be second fiddle.
So, one by one, I gave several of them thrill rides in this supercharged V8 muscle car. The throaty tune of the Shelby rumbled up and down the country road hitting many miles per hour in very few seconds (I ought not say just how fast). But let’s just say it was loud, fast and awesome for each and every ride I provided.
This was the Mustang of all Mustangs at this event, which had pony cars dating back to the origins in 1965 through Fox Body styles to the modern era. But all the owners of those beloved pony cars were still quite interested in this Shelby. And for good reason.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the highlights.
Supercharged V8 Engine
You cannot write a review of the GT500 without discussing the shining star which is the 5.2-liter Supercharged V8 engine.
Last week I wrote an ode to the supercharged V8 engine with this Shelby as my muse. Sure the flat-plane 5.2-liter V8 engine in the now discontinued Shelby GT350 and GT350R may sound a little better to some ears, the Supercharged V8 in the GT500 is like a growling, aggressive symphony.
Every rev and even many of the downshifts released loud, beautiful noises that can only be affiliated with Ford and Shelby.
When I told people that the engine made 760 horsepower and 625 lb./ft. of torque stock they couldn’t believe it. That’s Ford engineering. Each engine is hand built, with the name of the person who assembled it mounted on the engine.
After my speech about Gale Halderman and the Ford Mustang and his legacy, I went out to the GT500 with a crowd around me and popped the hood open and let everyone marvel at this fine piece of American engineering. Of course they wanted me to fire it up and I happily obliged.
With the GT350s discontinued, the GT500 is the last remaining Shelby affiliation for the Mustang.
Seven-speed Tremec dual clutch transmission
On a Mustang Facebook group I belong to, many of the hard-core Mustang purists were proclaiming that manual transmissions were the way to go for “real” Mustangs. My answer to them was, you need to experience the seven-speed dual clutch automatic transmission (DCT) in this Shelby GT500.
I’ve driven hundreds if not thousands of cars over my journalistic career and this is the single-best transmission I’ve ever experienced. That’s not hyperbole.
Every single upshift is pristinely timed and provides and marvelous sound to each. Even the downshifts are well timed and provide more throaty sounds.
There are paddle shifters available for those who want to be engaged in driving, but if you can’t stay engaged with the performance of this Shelby, well maybe you aren’t meant to drive one then.
How much does the Shelby GT500 cost?
The “sticker” price of my tester was $78,470. However these cars are going for much more than that, as I’ve seen some selling for six figures.
The Shelby GT500 is one of the rare cars that you can truly call an investment. It will hold its value throughout the years. With the GT350 discontinued, that will only help the value even more.
My tester was in one of the new colors offered by Ford – antimatter blue. It almost looked black, but when the light hits it you can see the dark blue tint. With the typical white striping associated with a Shelby on the hood and spanning the middle of the car it had a lot of sex appeal.
White vinyl striping near the bottom completes the look ($325 upcharge).
Inside, the Cobra logo was prominently displayed on the seats and the steering wheel letting you know this was special. An individual plaque on the glove box shows that this really is a collector’s car.
Suede-like material covered the steering wheel giving it such a great feel as you hold onto all those horses while that Cobra stares ready to strike at any given time.
Final thoughts on Shelby GT500
As a Mustang historian I get into discussions/debates with enthusiasts over what is and what isn’t a Mustang. It’s quite tiresome. A Mustang is whatever Ford says it is at this point.
Nobody can argue that the Shelby GT500 is as Mustang of a Mustang as you can find today. It encompasses everything you’d ever want from a muscle car. It’s the total package with looks and power to offer a car that’s fun, fast, aggressive and will always be fun to drive. What more could you want from a Mustang?
What do you think about this GT500? Leave me your comment below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.