All-New 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500

Ford unveiled the all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit Looking at the exterior, we were pleased with the design – it was so perfectly reminiscent of the Mustangs of old – right back to the original when it debuted in 1965

Looking at the exterior, we were pleasantly pleased with the design – it was so perfectly reminiscent of the Mustangs of old – right back to the original Shelby when it debuted in 1965.  Wonder if legendary race car driver, Carroll Shelby, who inspired the original Shelby, ever thought Ford would be continuing to build on the original 55 years later.

Back in 1965, all GT350s were painted Wimbledon White, and came with Guardsman Blue stripes with the optional ‘LeMans’ stripes that rolled down the middle of the hood and finished atop of the iconic oversized grille which prominently displayed the famous Cobra emblem.

The stripes and their placement, also present on the 2020 Shelby, is a prime example of a feature that remains timeless and still fits with the design today.

The original Shelby was a beast under the hood, boasting a modified Windsor 289 cubic-inch engine producing 306HP with a manual four-speed transmission.  It was light weight and smallest of the GT350 models and having race car specs, the two-seater was definitely built for speed and not so much for comfort.

For agility and handling, Shelby made adjustments to the Mustang’s steering to improve steering speed, and specified 15-inch wheels with fitted Goodyear tires that were rated up to 130MPH.

Only 513 of the original 1965 Shelby were sold, selling at the time for $4547.  Interestingly, on an inflation adjusted basis, that would be equivalent to roughly $36,000 today – not that you can buy it today for that price.   Rather, an online search of original 1965 Shelbys came up with asking prices of at least $400,000.

Flash forward to today – and hold on to your hat, buckle in and hit the gas!   Ford says the all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will be “the most powerful production-Ford we’ve ever built”.   That is a big promise given the race car history of the Shelby – let’s see how Ford plans to get there.  Here is what we know so far…

The new Shelby will be powered by a 5.2L supercharged V8 aluminum block engine, complete with oversized connecting rods, high-flow cylinder heads, and modifications that provide additional cooling.  The rear-drive Shelby will also feature the very first dual-clutch transmission in a Mustang:  the seven-speed gearbox, by Tremec, was chosen because of its speed shifting capability – at less than 100 milliseconds it beats out a traditional manual shift and is also faster and runs cooler than a torque-converter automatic

For drivers looking for that tactile experience, magnesium shift paddles are mounted behind the steering wheel.

Herman Salenbauch, global director Ford Performance vehicle programs commented, “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.”

While we don’t have all the specifics yet, Ford has said to expect the Shelby to deliver over 700HP, go from 0-60 MPH in roughly three seconds, and complete a quarter mile in under 11 seconds.

Given the focus on speed, Ford had to incorporate accommodations within the design to keep the drivetrain and engine components cool, which include enlarging the frontal opening, doubling the size over the GT350 and allowing 50 percent more airflow. That increase in the front grille opening, while beneficial for cooling, meant other modifications were required to offset its impact on aerodynamics, one of which is the oversized vent embedded in the fiberglass hood, designed to reduce lift.

Having the ability to go really fast necessitates the capability to also stop really fast.  To that end, the 2020 Shelby has bigger Brembo brakes, featuring 14.6 inch rotors with four-piston calipers in the rear and 16.5 inch two-piece steel rotors with six-piston calipers in the front.

This was made possible by increasing to a 20 inch wheel, up from the 19 inch offered on the GT350, that will be paired with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires as a standard feature or upgradable to grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires as part of the Carbon Fiber Track package.

As part of the Carbon Fiber Track package, quite literally you get textured carbon-fiber wheels which are engineered to offer an upgrade in handling, braking and overall ride, and that are obviously designed to visually complement the frame.

The Track package also eliminates the rear seat for lighter weight, and is fitted with the adjustable carbon fiber rear wing for road hugging down-draft.

Commenting on the performance of the new Mustang, Carl Widmann, chief Form Performance program engineer said, “There has been a relentless dedication to crafting this incredible vehicle.  It’s a car that comes alive once you reach 100 mph on the track.”

The GT500 will also offer a range of drive modes, featuring Normal, Sport, Weather, Drag and Track that will adjust the responsiveness of the transmission, traction control, and ABS to various scenarios and terrain.  For example Track mode makes for a smoother ride while Sport mode will provide the fastest shifts.   As on the GT350, Ford Performance selected MagneRide shocks that will communicate with the Shelby’s powertrain and braking systems, delivering roughly 1000 adjustments per second.

Not only is the Shelby built for speed, it does so with style.  That sentiment was echoed by the judges at the 13th Annual Eyeson Design awards last month when they selected the 2020 Shelby as the winner of Best Production Vehicle.  The awards took place at the North America International Auto Show last month, where the new Shelby was literally lowered in for its debut.On the inside, Ford has opted for an electronic rotary dial to shift gears, moving away from the traditional knob-styled stick.

Technology is the latest, and will include a Ford Sync3 infotainment system displayed on an 8-inch screen, complete with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and an optional 12 speaker B&O Play audio system is also available.  Digital controls are clustered within a 12 inch display.

Recaro racing seats come as part of the two-seat Carbon Fiber Track Package, or there’s an option of six-way power seats and a rear seat with the Handling Package.

The rambunctious exterior continues to be gleefully void of refinement and understated nuances and this is good  – there are plenty of cars out there that have that look.  Rather, the exterior design is squarely in your face:  the exaggerated grille sporting the infamous Cobra is like an oversized mouth that screams aggressively, daring one to drive it, to get a taste of what it is capable of doing on the road.

The dominant grille sits atop a deep spoiler and is flanked by oversized flared fenders, and complemented by the largest hood vent ever fitted to a Ford.

With the Track Package, the rear is adorned with an absolutely over-the-top exposed carbon wing – from a design perspective it is another layer of texture while aerodynamically it keeps downward pressure over the rear when you’re putting the 700 HP engine to the test.

Another great thing about the wing is that it is adjustable via hex keys to add more downforce or to make the ride more streamlined depending on your preference.

Four exhaust tips, each measuring a whopping five inches add visual punch and are framed with heat resistant trim to protect the surrounding bumper.   Not only is this exhaust package good to look at, Ford has added active exhaust modes, enabling adjustment of sound from a gentle purr to a throaty roar.

The iconic racing stripes reminiscent of the original 1965 Shelby and other Mustangs gone by continue to look great even after all these years, adding the impact you expect along the sides and top.   Another element that has stood the test of time are the tail lights.

While the rest of us has to wait until fall to buy the new Shelby, one lucky and generous person recently paid $1.1M at a recent charity auction for the first Shelby VIN001 to roll off the line.

At the time of writing, no MSRP guidance for the 2020 Shelby GT500 has not been released however given the MSRP of the 2019 Shelby GT350 starts at roughly $58,000, we’re guessing it will be north of $60k.

Reinvigorating the Shelby is another example of Ford making what’s old new again:  they are also resurrecting the Bronco in 2020, as we recently wrote about.