Just when you thought it couldn't get any better, it does. For the past few years, we have seen one of the best Mustangs ever to come out of Ford - the Shelby GT500. Belching out 500 screaming horses from its supercharged 5.4 liter V8, this Mustang was the fastest pony car ever to come out of Dearborn. Then last year we got a special taste of a rare version of the GT500 - the GT500KR which added an additional 40 horsepower. But with a price tag near $80, 000, it was a bit out reach for the typical Mustang buyer.
But so be it. The 2010 Mustang is here and with it, a new face lift. And so is the new Shelby GT500, with enhancements of its own.
Taking cues from the more intense KR, Ford engineers reprogrammed the computer to make the supercharged 5.4 liter V8 more responsive and aggressive. They also allowed the motor to breathe better with a free-flowing exhaust system. Finally, they changed the gears in the rear end to a tire-shredding 3.55-to-1 ratio.
The results are the same 540 horsepower found in the KR, which makes this GT500 faster and more responsive than last years. And while there is a price increase from last year's model, at $50, 895, it's still far from that of the KR.
The 2010 Shelby GT500 doesn't just benefit from engine enhancements, it gets the same tweaks to its interior and exterior as do all 2010 Mustangs. The front has been angled forward to look more contemporary and aggressive. Along the sides, the traditional scallops have been soften a bit, but they flow into a more pronounced shoulder just above the rear wheel. Out back, the taillamps have been reshaped and now incorporate sequential turn signals - bringing back memories of the late ‘60's and early 70's.
The wheels have grown an inch from last year and are now 19" all around. The styling of the wheels are also new and help make the car look more aggressive, but the gray tint that is used on them also makes them look as though they are always dirty.
Inside, the Shelby, as do all Mustangs for 2010, gets a much improved interior. The center stack looks more modern and the cupholders can now be hidden from view by a folding door. The GT500 gets some unique touches of its own like aluminum trim, and a Hurst shifter.
As one would expect from a car bearing the Shelby name, the GT500 is loud and goes quickly. With the supercharger on top of the 5.4 liter V8, the engine responds instantly to the slightest touch of the accelerator pedal. Unlike last years model which was quite tame at idle, the new exhaust on the 2010 car makes this Shelby sound like a roaring giant at all times. At the blower! While quiet at first, it wails like a siren the harder you mash the pedal. Straight line performance is astounding - 0 to 60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and the quarter mile in just 12.4 seconds - confirming that this is the fastest Mustang ever.
The suspension on the new Shelby is a bit tighter than last year's car. Around curves and corners, it feels a bit more confident and sticks to the road like glue. Getting too aggressive with the throttle in turns will still cause the rear end to kick-out; reminding you of a different era, but it is easy to regain control. The ride quality is stiff, letting you feel every bump and road imperfection, but the payoff is worth it. But caution must be taken when parking this hot Mustang - the front air dam is so low, it will not clear curbs.
The Shelby GT500 that I spent a week with was Kona (dark) Blue with silver stripes - and looked meaner than any Mustang that I can remember. It impressed me and every one I showed it to - and that was a large number. It was insanely fast, handled great, and turned out to be a awesome daily cruiser. Does that mean it's worth its $50, 000 price tag? That's hard to say - $50, 000 for a Mustang is difficult to justify. But I will say this - if you thought the KR was a deal at $80, 000 then the 2010 Shelby GT500 is a steal.