Shelby Mustang GT500 Brings the Swagger

Ford Performance pushes the sixth-generation Mustang platform to peak power with a supercharged, plus-700-hp 5.2L V-8 under the hood and racing-bred upgrades throughout.

Bob Gritzinger, Editor-in-Chief

January 14, 2019

3 Min Read
2020 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500
2020 Ford Shelby Mustang GT500 goes on sale late this year.

DETROIT – The Ford Mustang owns 40% of the muscle-car segment and has a 50-year tradition going for it. It’s the original pony car. It remains a hit in the U.S. and now sells to adoring fans worldwide.

So why bother entering a Mustang in this year’s NASCAR circuit? And why bother engineering the highly niche ’20 Shelby Mustang GT500?

Perhaps, as the Dearborn automaker’s sole non-truck or SUV model going forward in the U.S. market, the Mustang needs to make sure its swagger is firmly in place going into the next decade.


Here’s what enthusiasts want to know: Yes, there’s in excess of 700 hp emanating from the supercharged 5.2L V-8 under the massive scoop dominating the hood. The exact output will be announced closer to launch late this year. Yes, it reaches 60 mph (97 km/h) in 3.5 seconds. Yes, it runs a sub-11-second quarter mile.

“It is the most powerful street-legal Mustang ever,” says chief engineer Carl Widmann, smiling as he shows off his new baby at a media preview ahead of its world premiere at the North American International Auto Show.

Here’s what enthusiasts might not want to hear: The sole transmission offering is a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic – no manual – controlled by a first-ever-in-a-Mustang rotary-dial shifter and magnesium paddles in place of a traditional shift handle sprouting from the center tunnel.

The gearbox, designed and developed by Ford and its partner Tremec, is the transmission specialist’s first-ever DCT. It feeds power to the rear wheels via a carbon-fiber driveshaft and a 3.73-ratio rear axle.

The transmission is governed by three distinct shift algorithms, Normal, Sport and Track. Normal provides smooth shifts, Sport is quick and Track, surprisingly, offers the smoothest possible shifts to avoid upsetting the chassis en route to quickest lap times, the engineers say.

Upstream from the gearbox, the hand-built 5.2L all-aluminum V-8 gets a newly engineered Eaton roots-type 2.65L, 12-psi (0.8-bar) supercharger and air-to-liquid intercooler designed to fit into the engine’s valley, helping keep the overall profile low and tucked beneath an aerodynamically slick, low-rise hood profile.

The engine shares weight-saving, low-friction spray-in cylinder liners and high-flow cylinder heads with the GT350, but gets beefier connecting rods and longer head bolts to handle engine’s 1,800-psi cylinder pressure.

The chassis features Ford Performance suspension including 16.5-in. (420-mm) front brake rotors that Ford says are the largest of any domestic sports coupe, clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers.


Steering-wheel paddles and rotary shifter control GT500 transmission.

“With its supercar-level powertrain, the all-new Shelby GT500 takes the sixth-generation Mustang to a performance level once reserved only for exotics,” says Hermann Salenbauch, global director-Ford Performance vehicle programs. “As a Mustang, it has to be attainable and punch above its weight. To that end, we’ve set a new standard among American performance cars with our most-powerful, street-legal V-8 engine to date, plus the quickest-shifting transmission ever in a Mustang for all-out precision and speed.”

The third-generation Shelby GT500 traces its roots to the original 1967 model built by legendary racer and businessman Carroll Shelby.

“Carroll was always working on the next faster Shelby, and I think he would love this Mustang more than any other,” says Jim Farley, Ford president-global markets. “A takedown artist, the new Shelby GT500 will surprise supercar owners with its Ford Performance racing tech, supercharged engine and visceral swagger.”

About the Author(s)

Bob Gritzinger

Editor-in-Chief, WardsAuto

Bob Gritzinger is Editor-in-Chief of WardsAuto and also covers Advanced Propulsion & Technology for Wards Intelligence.

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