Last revised: 26-1-2009

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Ford Shelby Mustang 2007: the return


The ever increasing popularity of the original Mustang and of course the Shelby Mustangs and the difficult financial situation of the Ford company led to a return to proven classic values and designs, to lure more customers into the Ford dealers and rekindle some of the sales success of the past. After a well-received modern incarnation of the Ford GT40, an expensive high-performance super car, Ford surprised car enthusiasts in 2004 with a new Mustang with classic looks. It was not so much a retro design as it was a modern interpretation of the original Mustang design features; as if the original Mustang had gradually evolved into this model. It didn't only look good, it was affordable and practical as well and Ford had an instant hit on their hands. Not unlike what had happened with the the original Mustang.
With that success it became almost inevitable that more Mustang legends would be revived. And so in 2005 the "Ford Shelby Cobra GT500" was shown, a fastback model showing the looks of the classic Shelby Mustangs. This model would include a big powerful engine, a racing suspension and all the rest you would expect from a Shelby car and it found an enthusiastic reception. It became clear that the Shelby Mustang had returned and a production model was on the way.
(picture by Charlie Ruggles, used with permission)

2007_Ford_Shelby_Mustang_GT-500Ford presented the production version of the Shelby Cobra GT500 in 2006 as a 2007 model like you see here. For some reason Ford choose not to include the Mustang name into the official description of this model and opted for (perhaps more fancy) Shelby Cobra instead, but for history's sake I'll stick to Shelby Mustang on these pages.
The exterior of the new Shelby Mustang looks the part with Cobra badges all around, classic racing stripes from front to rear, a reworked front end with air splitter, heat extraction ducts and revised headlight insets, a rear with airflow diffuser, spoiler and Shelby-script, and wide racing wheels. It looks lower and more aggressive than a standard Mustang, just like it should be.
Despite its Shelby appearance the GT500 has been developed by Ford's own Special Vehicle Team (SVT), though the old Carroll Shelby acted as an advisor and test driver for this project.

2007_Ford_Shelby_Mustang_GT-500The interior of the new GT500 is more luxurious than was the case with classic Shelby Mustangs. It's entirely finished in black leather, complete with embroidered snake logos on the backsides of the seats. There's a Cobra emblem on the steering wheel cap and titanium faced gauges of which the tachometer is the most dominant to differentiate the GT500 from the regular Mustangs.
Obviously more important than the exterior and finishing features of this car is its performance. SVT has gone to great lengths to provide a performance which can live up to the legend. Showpiece of the car is its 500 hp V8 engine, similar to that of the Ford GT. It displaces 5.4 liters and has been fitted with a Roots super charger to enhance power output. The engine has a cast iron block, wet sump lubrication (unlike the GT's more expensive aluminum block and dry sump system) and 4-valve aluminum cylinder heads. It's claimed to make this Mustang the most powerful factory produced Mustang ever, boasting more power than a classic Mustang Boss 429.
(picture by Charlie Ruggles, used with permission)

2007_Ford_Shelby_Mustang_GT-500To get all of this power on the road the car has been fitted with a competition proven Tremec 6-speed manual gearbox. The power is transferred to the old-fashioned solid rear axle and put on the pavement by 18 x 9.5 inch wheels with big 284/40 rear tires. To make the car stop adequately Brembo disc brakes have been fitted with 14 inch rotors in front and 12 inch vented rotors in the rear wheels, operated by aluminum calipers.
Because of the large engine the GT500 weighs about 10% more than a regular Mustang, with most of that weight increase in front. To maintain the car's dynamic agility the suspension has been improved and beefed up. The GT500 has also been lowered, compared to regular Mustangs.

In all this seems like a proper Shelby package, providing plenty of thrills for a reasonable price, though not quite a competition bred racing car like the first Shelby Mustangs. It will find its own share of enthusiasts and maybe one day it will become a much coveted muscle car classic like its ancestors. At least it already has put some spice in the usually bland offerings of US car manufacturers.