2013 Ford Shelby GT500
Michael Stuart | On 22, Sep 2012
THOR’S WEEKEND WARRIOR
Well, here I am, trying to summarize the thoughts in my tangled brain after spending 72 hours with this unapologetic monster. I still have the soundtrack of the supercharged 5.8 litre running in my head and everything out there seems slow and dull.
This is my third go ’round with the Mustang and I’ve enjoyed them all. In this ‘quick take’ review I’ll focus primarily on the differences between the entry level V6 versions and this lion at the top of the food chain.
The current version of the Mustang has a hunched, aggressive and ready to spring stance. The Shelby treatment gets you 19 inch rims up front with 20’s in the rear. A gaping, open grill, front splitter, larger rear spoiler, and plenty of snakes adorn the exterior which can be had in a number of colour/stripe combinations. The ‘GT500′ logo sits in the stripe just behind the front tires.
Ours was ‘grabber blue’ with a white stripe. Looking at the Ford website, if I were to order one, I’d go with Red Candy Metallic and a black stripe. In just about any colour, this car will have heads on a swivel for both its look and its sound.
The interior of our Shelby came loaded with all the electronic goodies and even had the glass roof option. A standout option, once again, were the Recaro seats, this time in leather with a white stripe and still more snakes decorating them. These seats are simply the best and I can’t think why any manufacturer of sports cars wouldn’t offer them.
This one also had all the ambient lighting including a lit SVT logo on the door sills, but one thing that was missing was the projectors on the side view mirrors.
To the left of the steering wheel were dash buttons to adjust shock settings and steering settings. The only criticism I have here is that you can’t see them when sitting in the drivers seat (they’re obscured by the wheel) and I didn’t even notice them until we started doing the pictures. Traction control can be shut off by a button on the console. Think long and hard before you push that one.
One thing I’m going to knock here is the shifter. I have to say I didn’t like the cue ball. Smooth and slippery is not what you want when you’re hustling a car so capable of throwing you around inside. If you’re going to track this car, I’m thinking some good, grippy racing gloves will be a must – it’s way too easy to slip off the shifter when going for the 2 – 3 shift.
Another wish list item, for similar reasons, would be heads up display. Again, when you have a car this capable, being able to integrate shift lights, digital speedometer, traction/stability warnings and even a gear indicator into a proper full colour HUD would be a big asset.
The Shaker sound system had an enormous sub woofer in the trunk. Nice, but I spent my days listening to the car. I didn’t even plug in my ipod.
Once again, the Ford displays including the split screen for nav/HVAC/Audio are in my opinion the best in the business.
Alright, let’s get down to the good stuff. As a minor caveat, I have to say that whoever had the car before me beat the stuffing out of the tires, which were blistered well around the edge of the tread. The fleet guys were a bit concerned, but knew that the car would be safe in my expert hands so off I went from the lot, and the learning experience began. The condition of the tires meant that I had to be somewhat cautious, and also probably meant that they wouldn’t perform quite as well as they otherwise would have if new. They still grabbed and spit up every piece of dirt they could find though and when the heavy rain set in on the second day, I was pleasantly surprised at how much wet grip they still had available.
If you ever had one of those teachers who was a tough, stern task master, you’ll know what I’m getting at here. This car will not suffer fools. Mess up, and it’ll let you know loud and clear. Some cars make you feel like a hero when you’re not so great a driver. This car will either make you a great driver or it’ll throw you like a horse that doesn’t like its rider. That teacher that I’m talking about – you probably hated him or her at the time, but looking back, you realize they made you better. This car will make you a better driver if you’re willing to learn.
Let’s start with the clutch. Heavy is an understatement here. It also bites hard and quick which can make it a challenge to drive smoothly initially. Once you learn it, the feeling is really rewarding when you’re running the car hard. Ripping off shifts to second, third and fourth is pure joy. Fifth and sixth are pretty much highway gears, and given that the car hits over 60 MPH in first, I’m thinking at most tracks you won’t go beyond 3rd unless there is a very long straight.
I’ve already talked about the shifter design, but its action is also firm and requires a deliberate effort. Unlike the V6 models, reverse is off to the right of 6th gear. In the V6 models, it’s to the left of first and can only be engaged by pushing the shift lever down. I preferred the V6 setup as I was nervous initially going from 4th to 5th and had to think about it more than I did with the base model.
Steering in the ‘sport’ mode, which I greatly preferred, was very tight. This is the only car I’ve driven so far which had heavier steering than the Grand Prix. This type of setup is what I prefer, though some may not like it. The car turns in beautifully, feels like it’s just toying with onramps and tight turns and never once did I need to do mid corner corrections or seesaw the wheel – it behaved exactly as I expected and seemed like a natural extension of the driver.
The suspension is adjustable for ‘sport’ and ‘normal’ settings. The car has been criticized as too harsh, but having sampled both, I actually chose to keep it in sport setting. This is a personal preference, but it felt so utterly planted in that setup, I was happy to give up some comfort for that feeling of being ‘always ready.’
The engine. Oh, lord, this engine. 5.8 litres, capable of ‘over revving’ to 7,000 rpm and stuffing 15 lbs of boost into the whole works. 662 horsepower. If you said a car like this would be available at the current asking price, even 5 years ago, I would have laughed you out of the room.
At startup, it roars, pops and burbles down to a quiet rumble. Motor down the road and it has this mechanical, whirling, churning symphony on the go. Then you stomp on it and all hell breaks loose. This is the closest I’ve ever heard any car come to sounding like a big block. The roar from this thing has to be heard in person to be believed (think ‘Voice of God’) and the rising crescendo as you run from gear to gear will stay stuck in your memory forever. It will also tempt you to dip into that power all the time – it wants to GO, RIGHT NOW!
When cold, it will not let you go past 6000 rpm, and a red line ‘light’ in the tach will stay lit until it warms up. Once it goes out, you’re free to explore the time warp that occurs when running this thing all the way out. Just be prepared for an all out sensory/visual/tactile assault, and a grin that will stay on your face for hours. Also make sure the road is EMPTY ahead of you.
631 lbs/ft of torque will overwhelm the best tires in the world, and the Eagle F1 Supercar tires (285 in the rear, 265 in the front) do their best, but if you stomp the pedal instead of squeezing it, the car will squirm left and right faster than you can blink – even when stability control is on.
The stats speak for themselves. This car runs the quarter in the mid 11 second range well into the 120 MPH trap speeds. 0 – 60 in 3.5 seconds. This is a supercar, available from your local Ford dealership. If anyone thinks this isn’t the best of times for enthusiasts, they’re just not thinking.
If the car has a weakness, it appears to be the brakes. At the track, there are reports of overheating and fade, so if your intention is to track it, you’ll need to look into some mods to help keep them cool. For daily use, they’re roughly the equivalent of throwing out the anchor from the Queen Mary and haul it down from rather foolish speeds with ease.
During its time with me, this car was the star of the show. Everyone I showed it to, or went for a ride in it, had a grin from ear to ear. People watched it go by and if I gunned it even a bit – out came that grin.
Fuel economy? I doubt anyone buying this car will care, but when I left it, the long term reading was 13.8 litres/100 km, which is 17 MPG. Not bad at all for a car with so much power.
Make no mistake, this car is raw, brute force personified, and will not be to everyone’s taste. I can see this as a car someone might add to a collection of cars they take to the track or simply like to boot around in on a sunny summer Sunday afternoon. If you’re like me, it’ll be your treasure that stays in your garage most of the time and doesn’t see a spec of rain or snow. When it comes out, it’ll be like a form of therapy.
Daily driver, not so much, but I proved it can be done, and once you’re used to it, you can manage in traffic fairly easily. Even in rush hour, out came those grins….
Photo Credit: Copyright 2012 Vic Handa / Car Fanatics Blog Canada