How the Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 Works

Image Gallery: Sports Cars Shelby Mustang GT500. See more pictures of sports cars.
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

The Ford Mustang: It's a name that carries a lot of respect. Combine it with the name of legendary car designer Carroll Shelby, and you've got the makings of a truly great American car. The Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 isn't just another souped-up Mustang -- it's the most powerful Mustang to ever roll off a factory production line.

In this article, we'll find out what sets the GT500 apart from other Mustangs.

The Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 is a car that follows a distinctly American approach to high-performance -- give it lots of horsepower and then get out of the way. There are some important differences between the GT500 and the "plain" 2005 Ford Mustang. The 2005 Mustang sports a 4.0-liter SOHC (single overhead cam) V6, which puts out 210 horsepower, and the GT version comes with a V8 capable of 300 horsepower. The GT500 is rated at 500 horsepower.

GT500 engine
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

It all starts with a 5.4-liter DOHC (dual overhead cam) V8 engine made of cast iron, a powerplant first used in the limited edition Mustang Cobra R.

A screw-type supercharger with an air-to-water intercooler, generating 9 pounds of boost, forces air into the cylinders, each of which has four valves. Many of the engine components, such as the aluminum piston heads and bearings, came from the development of the Ford GT. A T56 six-speed manual transmission is also part of the GT500's powertrain, but there's no technological innovation here. The T56 is a tried-and-true, race-proven transmission that is very capable of handling the V8's horsepower. The gearing is evenly spaced to allow the engine to use all of its torque to drive the rear wheels.

So what does all that hardware get you? According to Ford, the GT500 will generate 500 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 480 lb-ft of torque at 4,500 rpm.

Next, we'll check out the GT500's suspension.

Mustang Handling and Specs

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

Although American muscle cars are usually known for flat-out, straight-line speed, the history of the Mustang shows that a car made in Detroit can be successful on the technically challenging road courses in the United States and Europe. The original Shelby Mustangs were very nimble on twisting tracks. The modern GT500 is no different.

An independent MacPherson strut suspension with reverse-L lower control arms anchors the front end, while a three-link solid axle shores up the rear, aided by a track bar to prevent lateral motion. Both front and rear stabilizer bars help minimize body roll. Brembo brakes add to the handling performance, with 14-inch, four-piston discs in front and 11.8-inch, single-piston discs in the rear, linked to the car's ABS system. The 18-inch aluminum wheels hold P255/45ZR and P285/40ZR high-performance tires, and a power-assisted, rack-and-pinion steering system rounds out the handling package.

Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 dimensions:

  • Wheelbase - 107.1 inches (272 cm)
  • Length - 187.6 inches (476.5 cm)
  • Width - 73.9 inches (187.7 cm)
  • Height - coupe 54.5 inches (138.4 cm) convertible 55.7 inches (141.5 cm)
  • Front track - 61.9 inches (157.2 cm)
  • Rear track - 62.5 inches (158.8 cm)

Full Specs


Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

Type: Supercharged V8

Configuration: Iron block and aluminum heads

Intake manifold: Cast-aluminum with screw-type supercharger and air-to-water intercooler

Exhaust manifold: Cast iron

Crankshaft: Forged steel

Throttle body: Dual 55 mm, electronic

Valvetrain: DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder

Displacement: 330 cubic inches (5,409 cc)

Horsepower: 500 hp

Torque: 480 lb-ft

Transmission: T56 six-speed manual

Driven wheels: Rear-wheel drive


Front: Reverse-L independent MacPherson strut, 34-mm tubular stabilizer bar

Rear: Three-link solid axle with coil springs, Panhard rod, 24-mm solid stabilizer bar


Type: Four-wheel power disc

Front: Brembo 14-inch vented and cross-drilled disc, four-piston aluminum calipers

Rear: Brembo 11.8-inch vented and cross-drilled disc, single-piston calipers


Type: 18x9.5-inch aluminum wheels

Tires: P255/45ZR-18 up front and P285/40ZR-18 on the rear


Wheelbase: 107.1 inches (272.0 cm)

Length: 187.6 inches (476.5 cm)

Width: 73.9 inches (187.7 cm)

Height: coupe 54.5 inches (138.4 cm) convertible 55.7 inches (141.5 cm)

Track width, front/rear: 61.9 inches / 62.5 inches (157.2 cm / 158.8 cm)

Ground clearance: 5.71 inches (14.5 cm)

Cargo Volume: 9.7 cubic feet (27 L)

In the next section, we'll take a closer look at the design work that went into this Shelby Mustang GT500.

A New Old Design

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

Instead of the standard Mustang horse logo, the GT500 features silver Cobra badges. Still, the GT500 is instantly recognizable as a Mustang, with many elements of the design meant to invoke the original GT500, last produced in 1970, as well as other Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s.

The styling was originally tested on the Mustang GT coupe and refined on the Mustang GT-R before reaching the GT500 stage of design. In the Mustang heritage, vents in the hood draw heat away from the engine compartment, and the rear spoiler is reminiscent of earlier Shelby designs.

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

Virtually every surface of the interior is covered in black leather, with "SVT red" door panels and seat surfaces. "Leather has long been a performance fashion accessory for enthusiasts, from jackets to racing gloves, so it perfectly matches all the other driving oriented cues," said Keith Rogman, Mustang senior designer.

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

All the metal parts in the interior have a satin finish, rather than chrome.

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

The instrument panel reflects the car's breeding as a racecar: The positions of the speedometer and tachometer have been switched so that the tach is more prominent than usual, and a boost gauge allows the driver to keep constant tabs on the status of supercharger.

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

2007 Model Hits the Streets

Just in time for the summer of 2006, the 2007 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 is making its way to showrooms across the country. The base price for the most powerful Mustang ever made in a Ford factory is $42,975 for the coupe and $47,800 for the convertible. Current-model Mustangs cost between $20,000 and $30,000 depending on version and options. According to Ford's Web site, the company intends to roll out 8,000 to 10,000 units of the 2007 model.

Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

For more information on the Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 and related topics, check out the links on the next page.

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