If there is one thing Ford has done better than any other auto manufacturer, it is understanding what their enthusiasts want—which to put it simply, is fast, reliable cars. Not just Mustang GT fast, we’re talking about the specialty models that blue oval fanatics have lusted over since the first one was released, the 1965 Shelby GT350. No matter what kind of gear head you consider yourself to be, it is near impossible to resist the siren call of a factory killer, created specifically to be the fastest thing on the road or on the track in its price range.
Over the past decade, Ford has created three Mustangs that are the epitome of muscle car engineering, all showcasing true blue innovation and design that is focused on being fast. Take a look at these three homegrown legends of speed, purebred American muscle and quick enough to put you in hot water with local or state police at the blip of the throttle.
The 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang
While some might scoff at the idea of a non-road legal Mustang making the list, the fact of the matter is that the Cobra Jet was (and still is) the fastest turnkey racecar you can buy from a major auto manufacturer. The fifth gen Mustang marked the resurgence of not only the styling of the 1960’s, but also the mindset. Ford decided to pay homage to the legendary 1968 Cobra Jet Mustang which had won a slew of awards in the NHRA.
The 2008 Cobra Jet rocked a 2.3L supercharger on a 5.4L iron block, an A/C delete, 9” rear end, drag wheels and a special drag suspension. The Cobra Jet claimed to be making between 400-420 RWHP (a power output that was restricted for the racing class it was competing in) through a six-speed manual or a three-speed auto while tipping the scales at 3,330 lbs. Despite the power restriction, the Cobra Jet (sold as a FR500CJ) was good for pumping out consistent sub-10 second ¼-mile times, all for $69,900.
The resurrection of the Cobra Jet program was a huge success, especially when you consider their 50-unit a year production. The Cobra Jet Program is still going strong today with the latest iteration being released in the S550 body style for 2016.
The 2013 Shelby GT500
When the Shelby GT500 nameplate was brought back in 2007, people were running down to their local dealer as fast as they could with checkbook in hand, trying to own a piece of automotive history. Between its ’07 debut and 2012, the Shelby GT500 saw only minor changes and only gained 40 HP over 5 years; however, when the 2013 Shelby GT500 was released, you could hear jaws hit the ground as Ford put the world on notice.
Packing a 5.8L engine with a 2.3L supercharger that was good for a mind-numbing 662 HP and 631 TQ, the 2013 Shelby GT500 was the first Mustang from the factory to hit over 200 MPH (202 specifically), something people still have trouble wrapping their heads around. Although Dodge tried to fire back with the Hellcat shortly thereafter, the ’13-’14 Shelby was still able to champion them in the ¼-mile, especially with a bigger, stickier than stock tire.
While the Shelby GT500 nameplate has been placed on an indefinite hiatus for the time being, enthusiasts are still clamoring to own this car—just take a look online at what they are going for used. When it comes to brute strength and raw power, few cars can even come close to where the ’13 GT500 left its mark.
The 2015 Shelby GT350R
Although the S550 Shelby GT350R may not have the over-the-top power or as impressive of a dyno sheet as the S197 Shelby GT500, it is easily one of the fastest Mustangs Ford has produced. Ever. Ford went outside of the box and basically took what we thought we knew about muscle cars and threw it out the window. Using a 5.2L naturally aspirated “Voodoo” engine that boasts 526 HP and 429 TQ, the GT350R is able to rev up to 8,200 RPM’s thanks to it’s flat-plane crankshaft, technology that is inspired by super cars like Ferrari’s and Porsche’s.
But what makes the Shelby GT350R fast isn’t its ability to launch you into orbit with a hit of the skinny pedal, but rather its ability to take speed and carry it through turns—something it does better than cars more than twice its price. What makes the GT350R so special is how well the car was designed and engineered, from its MagneRide Suspension system, incredible aerodynamics and down force, to its carbon fiber wheels and world-class bespoke engine.
The 2015 and up GT350R is a whole new world of fast, the kind of fast that falls in line with Ford’s new initiative to make the Mustang a global platform. The Shelby GT350R, a high-revving V8 muscle car that can drive laps around almost anything and everything, is a taste of the future of Ford Performance and an ideal way to start of the next decade of performance-focused Mustangs.