Pony Express: Ford’s 760-horse Shelby Mustang GT500
Let me introduce you to Juno. This NASA space probe, currently doing loop-di-loops around Jupiter, has the distinction of being the fastest man-made creation ever.
How fast? When it left Mother Earth’s gravitational pull in 2011, it was accelerating at an astonishing 25 miles per second.
To put that into a little context, a 0.50-caliber bullet travels at roughly half a mile per second. So we’re talking 50, yes five-oh, times faster than a speeding bullet.
That’s fast. Schmokin’ fast.
Accelerating away from a stoplight in the rolling insanity that is Ford’s latest supercharged, 760-horsepower Shelby Mustang GT500 is maybe the closest thing you can get to hitching a ride on Juno.
And, just as with Juno in full slingshot mode, your face will distort, your cheeks quiver, your belly button will go from an outie to an innie, and your eyeballs might well compress to the back of your skull.
Ford claims zero-to-60mph acceleration in 3.3 seconds. That’s fast, though not quite a match for some of the world’s hypercars — a $3 million Japanese electric supercar called, don’t laugh, the Aspark Owl, claims 0-to-60 in 1.7 seconds.
But the difference is that, during those 3.3 seconds, the Shelby’s huge rubberware is trying in vain to contain its big V8’s locomotive-like 625 lb-ft of torque and the resulting wheelspin.
What we have here is not only the most powerful factory Mustang ever, but the most powerful Ford. Remember the Blue Oval’s performance flagship, the $500,000 GT supercar, comes with a mere 660hp — precisely 100hp down from the Shelby.
OK, I hear you; unless you have a race track in your back yard, or want to risk jail time high-tailing it across Alligator Alley, where on earth can anyone sensibly use all this power and performance?
You can’t. But it’s kinda nice to know it’s there. And plenty of owners do head to the racetrack, or dragstrip, to experience this galloping Mustang’s truly breathtaking performance.
But to drive this projectile — however fast you want — is to adore it. Just the outrageous, window-rattling thunder from its storm drain-sized exhausts is worth the $72,900 sticker.
Whoa there. Did I just say $73-grand? For a Mustang? Sure did. And if you start adding on a few options — like the $18,500 Carbon Fiber Track Pack — you can push the price north of $100,000.
But the GT500 is really a hand-built race car that just happens to be road-legal. A car with a truly hand-built engine bolted together with race-car precision and technology.
Take its new seven-speed dual-clutch Tremec automatic transmission. This thing has the ability to shift gears in as little as 130 milliseconds. It has front brake rotors that measure 16.5 inches across. Its driveshaft is made of carbon fiber.
If this thing were any more exotic it would be dancing around a pole.
And see it in the metal, especially in our test car’s Kermit-like shade called Grabber Lime, and it grabs more attention and camera-phone selfies than any Ferrari.
Just look at the thing. That air-gulping front end looks big enough to swallow a Mack truck. The louvered air scoop on top of the hood is almost three feet long and two feet wide, yet barely big enough to vent the huge heat created by the motor.
The good news for us mortals, however, is that this GT500 is a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. On a daily commute it can be totally docile, smooth-riding, mild-mannered and easy-going.
But gripping that salami-thick, suede-rimmed wheel, being held tightly in place by a race-style, Recaro bucket seat, gazing over that huge power-domed hood, you feel ready to take the grid at Sebring.
You won’t even notice the cheapo, rental-Mustang black plastic on the center console and doors, or the manual-adjust seats, or the un-illuminated rotary gear selector that will drive you crazy at night.
No, you’re driving the King of the Mustang pony corral. Time to pull the trigger and hoof it.
Wrangle the new Mustang Shelby GT500 at Elder Ford, Bill Currie Ford and Veterans Ford in Tampa; AutoNation Ford in St. Pete; Walker Ford and Ferman Ford in Clearwater; and Brandon Ford.