Carroll Shelby and Ford have had a long romance that has given the performance automobile enthusiast many wonderful cars. The Shelby-Ford vehicles have continued to keep motor heads entertained for years, even decades after their last production date.
Enter the all-new Shelby GT500. Remembering its roots with the Mustang was a good thing for Ford. Remembering its relationship with Carroll Shelby is another full step ahead. The Shelby GT500, even sitting still, can make you feel as though you are going faster than you should. It isn't often you feel guilty just listening to the wonderful growl of a vehicle's exhaust.
The first hint that things are different from other Mustangs is the reconfigured body styling. Sail-like rear quarter windows appear to be taken directly from a 1968 Shelby. The large front headlight design, wide grille and cool-looking and functional front chin spoiler give this 2007 version all the trappings one had 40 years ago, but with a contemporary flair. The integrated rear-deck spoiler with its wide racing stripes is always present in the rear- view mirror, serving as a reminder that you have a beast of a car on your hands.
However, I can't imagine anyone lapsing into that deep of a fog to forget. Back to that exhaust sound. Part of the fun comes from being able to blip the throttle with quick staccato moves to hear the big V-8 under the hood growl. The 5.7-liter produces more than just noise. With 500 horsepower and 480 pounds-feet of torque, you will have a difficult time forgetting the beast under the hood. Matched to an extremely capable 6-speed manual transmission, this Mustang is pure performance entertainment.
The traditional top-load shifter is precise and solid with every shift. Taking the engine up to redline at every shift is nearly impossible because before you get through two gears you are well over the speed limit in most states. Remarkably, even with this power and performance, the car is amazingly docile in traffic. The suspension system is just right to provide the stiffness needed for hard cornering, yet compliant enough to be relatively comfortable on rough pavement.
Ford was smart to install an anti-slip differential because with so much power available at any time, the tires would no doubt break loose at the drop of a hat. They also made the system switchable, able to be shut down, so if the need arises the driver can have unbridled access to all ponies.
The horse analogy isn't just for namesake alone. The freedom and exhilaration one can have with either the four-legged or four-wheel variety is analogous. The fun of the ride is certainly equal in both; our Mustang just has 499 more horses available than the four-legged.
Ron Moorhead, a nationally syndicated automotive columnist, can be reached at email@example.com.