History Lesson: Secrets of the Snake – The GT350 & GT500

A Venomous Beginning: The Cobra’s Place in Mustang History

When Ford debuted the brand new 2015 Shelby GT350, they added another link in the ever growing chain of cobra badged Mustangs. Going all the way back

to the first generation of Mustangs, there has always been a pony that has adorned a cobra badge—the ultimate sign of performance and automotive dominance. Regardless of what you may or may not know about the Mustang, even the most casual observer would note that a Mustang wearing the coiled-up cobra is more than your average pony.

Over the years some confusion has developed as Ford, SVT, and Shelby American have all used various versions of the cobra badge on an array of different models, with the only common factor being their high-powered performance. While the 1965 Shelby GT350 was the first to incorporate the cobra logo into the Mustang and the ’67 Shelby GT500 being the second, quite a few Mustangs that have come after that have used the same badging; however, we will look at the Snakes we are most familiar with over the past 23 years (since the beginning of SVT in 1993).

The Significance of the Badge – Understanding the Power

While we have all seen a V6 or two with a crooked cobra clinging to the fender, all it takes is a quick glance to know that it doesn’t have the presence of true snake bitten stallion. Naming conventions aside, all Mustangs that come with the cobra badge have one thing in common—tire annihilating power; with the badge comes a more massaged engine (often supercharged in recent years) and all of the supporting components to handle a helping of power above your normal GT.

Ford has always been dead-set on the quality of the vehicle they produce, not just from a “does everything work properly?” standpoint, but also from a “does this live up to what has come before it?” standpoint. You can rest assured that any Mustang to come from Michigan with the cobra emblem attached will be able to throw you back in your seat and embarrass the best-of-the-best from the competition. Ultimately, it is not about the name or the specific horsepower number—it’s about the many years of racing heritage and cutting-edge innovation that has continued to push the Mustang above the rest.

Cobra Car 3
Packing potent performance and backed by the legendary Shelby name, the cobra insignia that can be found throughout the GT500’s history has caused many people to falsely claim that there was an S197 Cobra Mustang, often referred to as a “Shelby Cobra.”

Rebirth of an Icon – The 2007+ Shelby GT500

Despite the slightly misleading badging scheme, the 2007 Shelby GT500 is arguably the most important Mustang to come from Ford in the past 25 years. At a time when mundane car designs and performance were dominating the sub-$60K car market, the Shelby GT500 came out of left field to turn everything on its head.

With the rebirth of the GT500 came the resurrection of the cobra badge, which had been absent since the 2004 Terminator. The ’07 GT500 was Ford’s foray back into creating over-the-top powerhouse platforms since the outgoing ’04 Cobra, but more importantly it showed never waning dedication to pure innovation and performance, which is the essence of the badge it prominently displays on the fender.

Over the course of the next few years, Ford continued to tweak, refine, and invent new components to the Shelby, keeping it ahead of the pack. Having gone from an iron to an aluminum block, a 5.4L to a 5.8L displacement, and from a 1.9L to 2.3L supercharger setup, by 2014 the GT500 had become the most powerful Mustang ever produced and the first to be able to break 200 MPH from the factory. As the GT500 has continued to evolve into a modern day legend, the cobra emblem has been the one image that anyone familiar with the brand would associate with this level of performance.

As we move into the next generation of the Mustang the cobra badge lives on, representing the best that Ford has to offer. Known by its intimidating cobra logo, the all-new Shelby GT350 has picked up the torch from the outgoing GT500, and continues to drive the spirit of innovation and performance that has made the cobra badge one of the most revered icon in the automotive world.


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