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Shelby GT500 Musings

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ANN M. JOB: 2007 Shelby GT500 brings back real American muscle

The Associated Press

Last Updated 5:59 pm PDT Wednesday, May 31, 2006


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(AP) - It's only starting to make its way to showrooms, but the 2007 Ford Shelby GT500 is already appreciating in value.

Potential buyers at eBay are bidding more than $10,000 above the starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $42,975 to get the modern version of a Shelby Mustang, one of America's famous muscle cars of the 1960s.



Buyers aren't merely getting a retro-styled car, offered as a four-person coupe and convertible. They're getting an honest-to-goodness American muscle car experience with the special touches of racing legend Carroll Shelby.

There's nothing shy or subtle in the 500-horsepower Shelby GT500 with 5.4-liter, supercharged V-8.


Indeed, it's the fastest factory-built Mustang ever with a 0-to-60-mile-an-hour time of less than 4.5 seconds.


And the 480 foot-pounds of torque peaking at 4,500 rpm seem over the top, delivering an "oomph" that can shove a driver back into the seat instantly.


Don't look for a wussy automatic transmission in this Shelby. A driver has to be actively engaged in driving this brawny car, including manually shifting through the six gears of the heavy-duty Tremec transmission.


There's no slinking quietly through traffic. The Shelby GT500 coupe wears bold LeMans striping and functional hood scoops over an aggressively styled Mustang body. A deep, throaty V-8 growl emanates virtually all the time, even at neighborhood speeds.


The test coupe got lots of stares, and some onlookers stopped in their tracks as if transfixed by the car's presence.


Collectors, Shelby fans and Mustang aficionados are abuzz, especially considering that only 8,000 to 10,000 will be built in a partnership between Ford Motor Co.'s performance group Special Vehicle Team (SVT) and the 83-year-old Shelby.


Shelby set land speed records in the 1950s and won the 24 Hours of LeMans in 1959, later becoming a sports car maker.


Early Shelby Mustangs, particularly the GT500KR of the 1960s, are prized as collectibles today worth hundreds of millions of dollars.


It was both exhilarating and intimidating to walk up to the new Shelby GT500 and get inside. The car looks like serious power, even when sitting still.


I appreciated that the driver's seat has height adjustment, and I urge Ford officials to offer it for the front passenger seat, too. Otherwise, short-stature passengers are forced to sit ramrod straight to try to see over the tall dashboard cowl and the resting windshield wipers.


Turning the ignition key brought a raucously deep engine sound that fit perfectly with the car's appearance, and I couldn't resist stabbing at the gas pedal a couple times just to hear more.


Much of what's in this latest Shelby creation comes from other Fords. The body obviously is a sportier version of the rear-wheel drive 2006 Ford Mustang, which starts at just under $20,000 for a V-6 powered coupe.


But some of it also comes from Ford race cars. Example: The manual transmission was in the Ford FR500C that was so potent in 2005's Grand Am Cup races.


The Shelby GT500's engine not only is supercharged and intercooled with a Roots-type, 9-pounds-per-square-inch Eaton supercharger, it gets some premium parts, such as aluminum four-valve cylinder heads, piston rings and bearings from Ford's $153,345 super sports car, the GT.


And brakes, needed to quickly slow this fast-moving Shelby GT500, are larger than on any other production Mustang.


The Shelby GT500 tester galloped down straightaways with wild abandon and swiftly passed legal speed limits if a driver wasn't aware. And there was never any weakness in the brakes.


I expected the car to be a handful in the curves, though, just because of its brutish looks and because its historical predecessors of the '60s weren't exactly buttoned-down machines.


But you know, this Shelby car, wearing 18-inch tires, is surprisingly controlled in many of its motions. I went through slaloms at good speed without feeling abrupt or unsettling weight shifts, and the power rack-and-pinion steering was dead on.


Slam on the brakes at high speed, though, and the hood dips precipitously and the rear lightens up because so much of the car's weight - 57 percent - already sits in the front because of the big, heavy engine.


Passengers feel road bumps and vibrations, but they're not jarring in most instances. I didn't notice much road noise, because, frankly, the engine was so loud.


Final government fuel economy numbers weren't available at this writing, but an estimated combined rating, from Ford, of 20 miles a gallon is more on par with a sport utility vehicle than a four-seat car.


The GT500 also requires pricey premium fuel for its 16-gallon fuel tank.


The back seat isn't bad for two, though passengers back there don't have great forward views because the sporty front bucket seats are sizable.


Some amenities aren't offered in this car, including navigation system and rear-view backup assistance.


Safety features include standard front and side air bags for front-seat passengers, anti-lock brakes and traction control.


As for buyers, racer Shelby noted his high-performance sports car "doesn't take a back seat" to any of the "foreign cars with sticker prices of upwards of $100,000." His Shelby GT500, he said, is "for the guys who don't work for $200,000 a year."


Starting MSRP, including destination charge, for the Shelby GT500 convertible is $47,800.

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His Shelby GT500, he said, is "for the guys who don't work for $200,000 a year." :hysterical:


Starting MSRP, including destination charge, for the Shelby GT500 convertible is $47,800. :hysterical:

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