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Back Road Test: 2007 Shelby GT and GT-500


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OK Racing Fans, I saw this a few months ago over on another site. The link to that site is at the bottom of the story they have a few more pictures of the cars being tested.


Looks like they felt the Shelby GT is the "all around" better car!


Back Road Test: 2007 Shelby GT and GT-500

Story by Sam Haymart

We put both cars to the test on the road course and drag strip, back to back!




09-08-06: Spending time behind the wheel with just one of these cars is something that everyone in the world should do just once for posterity. Driving both the 2007 Shelby GT-500 and the Shelby GT in the same setting was really a great experience. The opportunity really drew out how different these two cars really are from one another. While they both share the same parents, these two kids have gone down different paths all together.

In pure specification, the Shelby GT and the GT-500 are separated by 175 horsepower, with 325 and 500 respectively. The top dog GT-500 has the big brakes, the more aggressive rubber and a host of other hardware that make it the most expensive Mustang you can buy from Ford. It’s without question the most celebrated muscle car of recent time, shot into the limelight last January with a $600,000 sale at Barrett-Jackson auto auction. The GT-500 of course has the fire-breathing 5.4 liter supercharged 32-valve engine derived from the Ford GT super car. It’s built and delivered as you get it entirely at Ford’s Flat Rock plant just south of Detriot.


The Shelby GT on the other hand starts life as a Mustang GT which is sent to the build shop of Carroll Shelby in Las Vegas. There it’s transformed much in the same fashion as legendary Shelby Mustangs were back in 1965. With an added Ford Racing cold-air intake, exhaust system and mild re-tune, the Shelby GT gets an additional 25 horsepower to the stock GT‘s 4.6 liter 3V engine. That power is put down with a much stiffer and lowered Ford Racing suspension. Visually you have a car that is much more akin to a standard Mustang GT, except for a lower stance, unique front fascia, Le Mans stripes and a riveted hood scoop that could only have been made by Carroll Shelby.


On initial start up the GT-500 feels as docile as any other car. The clutch requires a little more finesse than the Mustang GT. Our first 30 seconds in the car were spent launching it down the drag strip. We did a couple runs, one with the traction control on and another with it turned off. These days “off” really means “down a little” as the computer will still step in at some point. The GT-500 accelerates with the same torque induced feeling of thrust you get taking off in a jet airliner. The low pitch supercharger whines distantly while the exhaust note roars from behind. It’s a sound that has decidedly become a Ford performance trademark since 2003.


The engine’s power curve is a deep well too, allowing you to sink the gas pedal at low rpm and still get a wallop of power. It definitely has the big-block feel that defines a muscle car. The six speed shifter has relatively long throws and with the heavier clutch it took a few runs to really become adept at driving this car fast. With some practice, however there is a lot of speed to be extracted from the GT-500.


Out on the road course the larger brakes on the GT-500 really come in handy when bringing the two-ton convertible down from high speeds. They aren’t grabby or abrupt however like some cars with large racing brakes, offering linear proportion of pedal pressure to braking action.


From Ford’s specifications we know that the convertible we tested has a 15% softer suspension than the coupe version and this was evident while negotiating the multiple apexes in our test course. There was considerable dive and roll when transitioning from braking to turning and back to acceleration. Powering hard out of corners, the live axle rear suspension only exhibited a slight tuck-in before it locked down and held firm. While I am a big proponent of independent rear suspensions, this is one of the best behaved solid axle cars I have driven. In any case, the massive front 255/45ZR18 and rear 285/40ZR18 rubber never faltered or protested.


My biggest reaction to the car is the level of refinement for a muscle car of it’s power. When the computer TCS steps in under hard driving it does so ever so subtly. In the big picture the GT-500 is relatively quiet and goes about its business with little drama. The domed hood gives you a perception of bulk from behind the wheel that combined with the heavier feel of the GT-500, really gives this car a much different character than other Mustangs. It's a character that is worlds apart from the Shelby GT.


On the drag strip, the Shelby GT felt only slightly slower than the GT-500. While we didn’t do any instrumented testing, the two cars weren't far apart in acceleration. In fact during our test day, a number of side-by-side drag races were performed between a GT-500 and both a Shelby GT and GT-H. The result was a only a close victory for the GT-500 in all passes.


From the seat of the pants perspective, the lighter clutch and steering combined with the Ford Racing short throw shifter made the car easier to drive fast out of the gate. The Ford Racing exhaust system is loud and raspy in a way that any Mustang enthusiast will love. Not only does it sound great inside the car, but standing at track side is like being at a vintage race with the familiar rap, crackle and pop.


Where the Shelby GT really rose to the occasion is on the road course. We hate to say it, but the car felt considerably faster on it’s feet, more willing to play, and able to deliver speed easier than the GT-500 did. This perception is really attributed to the fact that the Shelby GT has the handling prowess that allows you to use every bit of its 325 horsepower. The car was easily tossed about left and right, stopping and accelerating from apex to apex like a light switch. On-off-on-off-on-off. The Ford Racing suspension is really well tuned for aggressive auto-crossing and well balanced. It still had an OEM feel, but was firm enough to get the job done. There was little or no under steer and with the computer doing its part, only enough over steer to allow you to say you kicked it out for a moment. From the stands it makes you look like Parnelli Jones.


In comparing these two cars on handling we have to give some consideration to the fact that the GT-500 we tested was indeed a convertible which as mentioned before is more softly sprung. While the Shelby GT has the 175 horsepower deficit, it has a much stiffer and track ready suspension, weighs over 500 lbs less and had the benefit of a coupe’s stiffer body structure.


At the end of the drives the Ford executives asked for some quick feedback, of which I could only suggest that if I had a GT-500 I would add the Ford Racing suspension from the Shelby GT and that would make everything just about right. But having digested the experience, I would likely find myself just as satisfied with the Shelby GT as it offered a lot of power and fun-to-drive factor for a car that will likely be priced around $35,000.


But the world of specialty cars isn’t really about price. It's about bragging rights, pride of ownership and lifestyle. Which one of these cars will be the right fit for someone will likely hinge mostly on what they plan to use it for and where in their life it fits. The GT-500 is hands down the top dog for potential collector value, raw power, and status. The Shelby GT on the other hand is a car that you will more likely see driving around town, in office parking lots and blasting around a local road course on the weekends.



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hmm I think you'll see more GT500 considering they will have more than double the production if not triple.




I'm thinking the same thing...and with there being so many more GT 500's, I think that makes the SGT more collectible. Either way I am very excited and proud to own one. B)

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.....Nice find.


Hmm, now add the supercharger @ 470 HP and the Shelby (Baer) brake package......bring on the GT500s, well at least the convertibles......lol



Exactly why I went with the Shelby GT instead of the GT500 like I was going to originally. I think, with the available options straight from SA, that this car will be better all around for what I am looking for.


Plus there is a smaller production number making them even more of a collectible/rarer car. Not that I am ever selling mine but I want to go to car shows with it and not have 28 others just like it there. Which again, is why I love the options from SA. The chances of there being a SGT JUST like mine are slim, especially with the options I got from Ford as well.



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