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FIRST LOOK: Ford ups ante in street muscle race with new GT500

Mustang Shelby GT500 will be most powerful street-legal car Ford’s produced

Published: June 19, 2019, 4:35 PM
Updated: July 17, 2019, 7:28 PM

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

DEARBORN, Michigan – Ford has confirmed its 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 will be the most powerful street-legal car it has ever produced. The GT500 will be powered by a supercharged 5.2-litre, flat-crank V-8 that kicks out 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, which, Ford says, makes this engine the most power- and torque-dense supercharged production V-8 in the world.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Ford’s hand-built V-8, boosted by a 2.65-litre Roots-type supercharger and liquid-to-air intercooler, outpowers such muscular rivals as the Chevy Camaro ZL1 (650 hp), Corvette ZR1 (650) and Dodge Challenger Hellcat (717), although the Hellcat Redeye still holds an edge in output with 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque from its 6.2-litre supercharged Hemi V-8.

Like the Shelby GT350, 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. Beneath that, a structural oil pan adds strength, reduces vibration and features a patented active baffle system to keep oil where it’s needed.

GT connection

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Applying data learned from the tuning of its GT supercar’s dual-clutch transmission, the GT500 is fitted with a Tremec 7-speed, dual-clutch transmission, which is capable of shifts in under 100 milliseconds. This transmission is designed for a number of drive modes, including normal, weather, sport, drag and track, and activates features such as line-lock and launch control through selectable Track Apps. This powertrain is expected to launch the GT500 to 100 km/h in less than four seconds and clear the quarter mile in less than 11 seconds.

Ford says the Shelby GT500 has the best cornering capabilities and the largest brakes of any domestic sports coupe, thanks to tech transfer from Ford GT and Mustang GT4 racing programs. Not surprisingly, GT500 engineers and test drivers have achieved the best lap times ever for a Mustang.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

“With its supercar-level powertrain, the all-new Shelby GT500 takes the sixth-generation Mustang to a performance level once reserved only for exotics,” says Hermann Salenbauch, global director of 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 V-8 engine to date, plus the quickest-shifting transmission ever in a Mustang for all-out precision and speed.”

This new Shelby features revised suspension geometry, a new electronic power steering unit and lighter-weight coil springs front and rear, plus a next-generation active MagneRide suspension, the latest in advanced drive mode technologies from Ford Performance, along with custom Ford Performance-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires mounted on 20x11-inch wheels, or the more aggressive Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires on 20x11.5-inch rims. The hardware and technology have resulted in the GT500 achieving the highest lateral acceleration ever from a Mustang.

Track-worthy performance

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Track-worthy stopping power is provided by massive 420-mm, 2-piece rotors – the largest of any domestic sports coupe – plus larger, stiffer Brembo 6-piston calipers. With 20% more swept area than the Shelby GT350’s, these brakes have more than 30% additional thermal mass in the front corners. 

The GT500’s exterior design, developed in the windshear rolling wind tunnel at Ford’s motorsports technical center in North Carolina, features front fascia openings more than double the size of the openings on the Shelby GT350. Six heat exchangers are stuffed inside to increase cooling airflow by more than 50%. The massive louvered hood vent features a removable aluminum rain tray for better air extraction and increased downforce. A standard new rear spoiler and updated composite materials in the rear diffuser result in added thermal management. For true enthusiasts, two handling upgrade packages are offered – one includes adjustable strut top mounts and a Gurney flap for the rear spoiler; the other, Carbon Fibre Track Package, adds exposed 20-inch carbon fibre wheels with 0.5-inch-wider rear wheels and the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, adjustable exposed carbon fibre GT4 track wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive plane.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

“With a double front grille opening and 50% more cooling pack airflow versus the Shelby GT350, along with the most advanced aero components and downforce we’ve ever offered, every millimetre of Shelby GT500’s fastback design is aimed at improving performance,” said Melvin Betancourt, Ford design manager.

The 2020 Shelby GT500 goes on sale in fall 2019.