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2020 Mustang Shelby GT500: One Slick Snake

  • 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 debuts at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
  • Capable of mid-three-second zero to 60 times and sub-11-second quarter-mile scores, says Ford.
  • Aerodynamics, downforce, and race-tuning the chassis were among the priorities during development.

Ford drove all the way over to Detroit from Dearborn the other day, and decided to show off this: The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500. It’s about what you’d expect. Big, mean, capable, lots of bang for your buck, (but still kind of expensive) and – here’s the best part: It’s the most powerful Ford ever. Yes. Ever.

No, dumb-dumb, that does not include race cars. We’re talking production cars here, but, at more than 700 horsepower, it might as well include a few. For example, that’s more than what David Pearson’s Torino was making back in the stock car days.

Engine & Transmission: Inverted In The Valley

Overall, the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 features the most powerful street-legal Ford engine to date. It also has the quickest-shifting transmission ever in a Mustang. First, the plant making all that power is a hand-built, aluminum alloy 5.2-liter supercharged affair. The force-feeding is handled by an inverted, 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger that runs through an air-to-liquid intercooler tucked cleverly in the valley of the V8.

Ford flipped the blower itself to further lower the center of gravity.

They made the lump as light as they practically could too. Aluminum alloy block, wire-arc cylinder liners, high-flow aluminum cylinder heads, and larger forged connecting rods. They upped the lubrication and cooling passages, even adding a “structural oil pan.” Ford tossed in a patented “active baffle system” to keep oil where it’s needed for good measure.

Ford Performance went with a TREMEC seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that shifts in under 100 milliseconds. Deal with it you manual gearbox diehards. The transmission has a number of “drive modes” like normal, weather, sport, swanky, and drag and track. The modes kick on features like line-lock and launch control. South from there, the power runs through a carbon fiber driveshaft.

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2020 Mustang Shelby GT500. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Chassis & Braking: Brembos & Michelins

The new Shelby GT500 gets revised suspension geometry, a new electronic power steering unit, and lighter coil springs front and rear. And praise Henry, they remembered brakes and tires, Brembos and Michelins, specifically.

The stoppers are pizza-sized 16.5-inch (420-millimeter) two-piece rotors, the biggest on any domestic sports coupe, according to Ford. They are clamped by larger and stiffer Brembo six-piston calipers. With 20 percent more swept area than the Shelby GT350’s, these Brembos have more than 30 percent additional thermal mass in the front corners. Those skins are Ford Performance-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires. Replacing them will probably bankrupt you.

  • Related: Although not a Shelby, don’t ignore the “normal” Mustang GT. It’s fast and fun, and the exhaust system will wake the neighbors. Here is our full review.

Handling Packages: Two Choices For Fans

There are two handling packages on tap. The first is simply dubbed “Handling Package,” which includes adjustable strut top mounts and a spoiler with a Gurney flap. The “Carbon Fiber Track Package” (knock it off with the crazy name, ya kids!) features exposed 20-inch carbon fiber wheels, with the rears clocking in at a possum-squishing 11.5-inches wide.

The Carbon Fiber Track Package includes Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, an upgrade over the 4S tires. Also making things better for the track is the adjustable and exposed, carbon fiber GT4 wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive planes.

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A new rear spoiler and updated composite materials in the rear diffuser result in better thermal management, according to Ford. Photo: Ford Motor Company.

Exterior Design: Mean But Functional

Ford says the overall look is a “functional, menacing design tuned with Ford Performance know-how.” I’m not going to disagree with them, because this thing does look like it’d bite your head off man. There’s gaping openings and venturi ducts, kicks, flips, lines, creases, scars and whatnot all over the place. Subtle, it is not. But if you want to scream what a badass you are, this is a good way to do it.

Backing it up is your problem, as is growing old with class.

Development of the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 took place at Ford’s technical center in North Carolina, where engineers spent time in the windshear rolling wind tunnel to perfect the design. As a result, the front fascia openings are more than doubled versus the Shelby GT350, while six heat exchangers increase cooling pack airflow by more than 50 percent. Further, a 31×28-inch louvered hood vent features a removable aluminum rain tray for better air extraction and increased downforce.

Interior Treatments: Carbon Fiber & Recaro Seats

The interior is much the same as the outside. Exposed carbon fiber instrument panel appliqué (cheap!) and door panel inserts in Dark Slate Miko suede with accent stitching. Recaro racing seats with side bolstering and safety harness pass-throughs are available. There’s a 12-inch, full-color LCD instrument cluster and 12-speaker B&O Play audio system.

The rear seat is deleted to reduce weight. As it should be.

Pricing & Availability

All this should be sitting in FoMoCo dealers by this fall in a host of new colors including Red Hot, Twister Orange, and Iconic Silver. Painted go-fast stripes are also available! Ford has not disclosed pricing as of this writing.

Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He is the author of Bricks & Bones: The Endearing Legacy and Nitty-Gritty Phenomenon of The Indy 500, available in paperback or Kindle format. Follow his work on Twitter: @TonyBorroz

2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 Gallery

Photos & Source: Ford Motor Company.