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Nothing Beats The Sound Of A Supercharged V8

As automakers moved toward electrification they are missing out on one important aspect of car buying – the sound. Despite “tuning” of engines for vehicles like Mustang Mach-E and Tesla Model Y, nothing compares to the sound of the V8 engine in the Mustang Shelby GT500.


With all the debate over the electrification of today’s automobiles, there’s one key area automakers seem to be all-too-quick to dismiss. The visceral, sensual sound of a V8 engine. Add in a turbocharger or a supercharger (or both in some instances) and the sound emanating from the exhaust is music to many people’s ears.

This week I’m driving the 2021 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. It’s honestly a showcase piece of automotive engineering. And it made me wax a little fondly for the V8 engine.

I’ve taken heat in the past for taking what appeared to be an about face on my stance against the Mustang Mach-E. Sure, I started a petition about putting the Mustang name on an electric crossover. At the time I didn’t understand. Once I drove the Mach-E I totally understood the reasoning, even if it wasn’t something I would’ve done had I been a decision maker at Ford.

The #NotAMustang got a push from me, and then a pull back after driving the Mach-E. But one thing that is crystal clear is the Shelby GT500 is the most Mustang of all Mustangs out there today. It’s everything any Mustang purist would ever want or expect from Mustang muscle car.

I’ll have my official review of this powerful and oh-so-fun-to-drive Cobra in a couple days. You can read it here at Torque News.

Related story: Carbon fiber accessories available for GT500.

2021 Ford Shelby GT500The Sound a Cobra Makes
Carroll Shelby’s legacy lives on proudly the moment you start this car. The sounds that come roaring out of the engine and into the cabin is sensual. Very few cars on the road offer such an exhilarating, visceral appeal.

Certainly, no electric vehicle can match it. Ford does offer the “unbridled” mode in the Mach-E with piped in/tune but it cannot come close to the pipes of the supercharged V8 in the GT500.

How many cars have you driven that allow you to change the exhaust note with the flick of a toggle switch? The GT500 offers that and of course, I had to try it out.

Exhaust tune toggle switch in Shelby GT500

There are four exhaust options: normal, sport, track and quiet. I’m not sure why there’s even a quiet option, as that’s blasphemous to silence such a piece of fine engineering. But, as I reported, some states are trying to silence loud cars, so maybe this placates those “Karens” of the world that can’t stand a loud car.

For the rest of us, the other tune switches each sound amazing. As expected, the track setting is the loudest and let’s off a constant rumble inside the car that can almost give you a headache if you have sensitive hearing or hearing devices. Thankfully, I don’t as I flipped it to track and listened to the growl and the whirl of the supercharger, which you can literally hear.

I didn’t notice much of an audible difference between sport and normal. Frankly in normal mode it felt and sounded incredibly muscular. In normal it sounded great and certainly Carroll Shelby would be proud to have his name affiliated with it.

Related story: Giving last rights to the great GT350.

Track mode exhaust in GT5002021 Ford Shelby GT500 GrilleMost Powerful Ford Production Car Ever
Ford Performance created an exclusive powertrain to deliver new levels of power and torque.
“With its supercar-level powertrain, the all-new Shelby GT500 takes the sixth-generation Mustang to a performance level once reserved only for exotics,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director, Ford Performance vehicle programs.

“As a Mustang, it has to be attainable and punch above its weight. To that end, we’ve set a new standard among American performance cars with our most powerful street-legal V8 engine to date, plus the quickest-shifting transmission ever in a Mustang for all-out precision and speed.”

Shelby GT500 starts with a supercharged 5.2-liter aluminum alloy engine built by hand. To keep the intake air cooler and deliver a lower center of gravity, the team inverted a 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger with air-to-liquid intercooler tucked neatly in the V8 engine valley.

The aluminum alloy block features weight-saving wire-arc cylinder liners and high-flow aluminum cylinder heads, plus larger forged connecting rods, improved lubrication and cooling passages.

To channel power and torque to the unique carbon fiber driveshaft, Ford Performance leveraged learnings from the tuning of its Ford GT supercar’s dual-clutch transmission. The team selected a TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission, which can shift smoothly in less than 100 milliseconds – markedly faster than any manual gearbox. This dual-clutch transmission is designed for a number of drive modes, including normal, slippery, sport, drag and track, and features line-lock and rpm-selectable launch control through selectable Track Apps.

I can vouch for how impressive the 7-speed dual-clutch Tremec transmission is. It was mind blowing.

2021 Ford Shelby GT500 GrilleFinal Thoughts: The V8 isn’t dead yet
I wrote about how the gasoline engine wasn’t just going to fade away and yield to the electric powertrain. The same can be said for the V8. There are a lot of fans of V8s out there and driving the GT500 it’s impossible not to be fan.
Rarely does vehicle truly evoke all of your senses, but the Shelby GT500 certainly is music to your ears with the sweet sounds of that supercharged V8 engine.

What do you think? What is your favorite V8 engine? Leave me your comments 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.


Timothy Boyer    July 15, 2021 - 2:53PM

Sound is one thing, but let's not forget the feel of driving by the seat of your pants when a V8 rumbles and roars to life. I can't help but imagine that the electric exhaust options are going to be anemic in comparison to the real thing even with the increased G-force of sudden takeoff...but I could be wrong, and will have to wait until I can experience the EV simulation. Interesting times...but sad too. Who would have thought that the sound of untimed backfire could become as rare and as lonely as the cry of a loon in nature?

DeanMcManis (not verified)    July 17, 2021 - 9:00PM

I still cannot call the Mach-E a Mustang, and I doubt that I ever will. But it doesn't mean that the Mach E (especially the GT and Performance models) won't be thrilling to drive. I cannot argue with you about the magic of the sound and feel of a rumbling V8, only to be surpassed by the ROAR of a V8 at full throttle! I am still an enthusiastic EV advocate, but much of what always excited me about performance cars was initially the great sounds when driving. Thanks for the teaser on the amazing GT500. I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your review.

Richard Joash Tan (not verified)    July 22, 2021 - 7:07AM

The Mustang Mach-E is and always will be a Mustang because I am biased with it. That is why I prefer electric motors over V8s because they may have the roaring sound of the V8, all I want is an EV that has the roar of the true lion.