As we become more and more acquainted with the newest generation of Mustang and all of its latest performance prowess, it still seems as though something is missing from the line-up. While blue oval enthusiasts have been gifted with the Shelby GT350, Ford’s latest performance geared specialty model, many in the automotive community are still waiting for a return of the most legendary muscle car of all time—the Shelby GT500.
Since the Shelby GT500 was first debuted in ’67 it has been a nameplate that has been simultaneously lusted after and feared, yet it remains absent in the latest iteration of the Mustang. While Ford moves the Mustang toward being a global platform that utilizes a smaller displacement turbocharged engine, one starts to question if there will ever be another Shelby GT500—a car that is famous for large displacements, big torque and absolute raw, unrefined power.
2007 Marked the return of the GT500, bringing with it a 5.4L Iron Block that packed 500 HP from the factory -but that’s not even scratching the surface of what it’s capable of.
A New Snake
The GT500 has been overshadowed by the newest snake on the block, the 2015-2016 Shelby GT350. Featuring a 5.2L flat-plane crank (FPC) V8 making over 500 HP, the Shelby GT350 has stolen the limelight from the S197 based Shelby GT500 with its world-class handling. While the outgoing ’07-‘14 Shelby GT500 was all about laying down astounding numbers on the dyno or at the drag strip with its 5.8L V8, the new S550 based GT350 is about setting unbeatable lap times around road tracks.
In many ways, the GT350 represents the future of the Mustang as it is the perfect global platform—designed to take on anything the foreign market can throw at it by featuring never before seen handling in a Mustang. It could be argued that the GT350 is the pinnacle of sports car development, as it puts such a high emphasis on having an excellent power to weight ratio and handling. However, let’s not forget, the Mustang at its core is a pony/muscle car hybrid that has built 50 years of heritage on being the benchmark for straight-line speed.
Why an S550 GT500 Makes Sense
The 2014 Shelby GT500 went down as being one of the most powerful production cars ever created, which was somewhat short-lived as the Dodge Hellcat Charger & Challenger came out swinging hard in 2015 with a stout 707 HP, a touch above the ’14 GT500’s 662 HP. While the Hellcat remains in production, there is no direct competition at the moment from Ford, unless you consider adding a TVS Supercharger to an S550, which is good for a solid 700+ HP.
Taking into consideration the fact that Ford Performance has openly stated that they are focusing on creating 12 performance vehicles by 2020, it stands to reason that one of them would be a new GT500. The automotive community has been yearning for a new GT500, a Mustang focused on slaying the competition in the quarter-mile and beyond. Even with the unveiling of the 2016 Cobra Jet Mustang, there has yet to be announced a street-legal alternative that the average Joe can buy—a follow-up to the reasonably priced powerhouses that Ford has released over the past decade with the Shelby badge.
The 2007-2009 Shelby GT500 utilized a 5.4L motor with an Eaton 1.9L Supercharger that started with 500HP and could easily hit over a 1,000 HP with an upgraded blower.
Since 1967, the coiled-up cobra flexing its fangs has been a badge reserved for the most lethal of Mustangs – the GT500 – and pays homage to the history of the Shelby brand that goes back to the AC Cobra.
The ’67 GT500 launched the signature snake into history, using a 428 Cobra Jet Engine to smack down the competition.
Power Plant Possibilities
The previous GT500 ruled the automotive kingdom with its supercharged 5.8L V8 that made enough power to launch a Saturn Rocket into orbit. Since 2015, Ford has been championing the much-loved 5.0L V8 coyote platform—the same block the GT350’s 5.2L Voodoo motor is based off of— as their main performer. There has also been a decent amount of love shown to twin turbocharged V6 platforms in the future Ford line-up, with the new Raptor and Ford GT both utilizing an EcoBoost 3.5L twin-turboed V6.
Taking all of the above into consideration as many prominent voices on various forums already have, there is a sneaking suspicion that the GT500 will be resurrected, but with a twin turbo setup in place of the roots supercharger setup it has thrived on since 2007.
There is still a split however, as to whether a new GT500 would use a V8 or V6 configuration. While the new Raptor and GT are both going to showcase the power of the TT V6, it is almost unimaginable to see a GT500 Mustang with anything less than a V8. Based on the fact that a 5.2L FPC engine has been developed, and that Ford has thoroughly tested twin turbo applications, there seems to be a growing consensus that we will see a TT 5.2L GT500 in the upcoming refresh of the S550 platform.
The Likelihood of a New GT500
Despite the fact that Ford has not officially made any comment on the possibility of a new GT500, there has been a strong and growing group of voices that say one is coming. Various “industry insiders” have been speaking out on the more prominent Mustang Forums about the return of the king of muscle cars; these are the same people who predicted the return of the GT350.
Ultimately nothing is set in stone, and it does seem that the Mustang has slowly been developing into a global platform, a platform that is more concerned with handling than power. However, no other auto manufacturer has been in tune with their audience as well as Ford has been—especially in the past decade. Looking at everything objectively, without the bias of the Mustang’s legacy, all of the pieces are there to assemble the newest generation of top-muscle, a GT500 for tomorrow’s market.