"These things are badass," my neighbor said, while both of us gazed over the Twister Orange 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 in front of my house. An hour had passed since its delivery, and already this car had brought out the neighbors. I hopped in the driver’s seat for the first time and pressed the start button. The pony car roared to life. I made a beeline for the freeway to open it up a bit, and found myself forgetting about the mountain of worries 2020 has brought.
The 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is arguably already a collector's car, and rightfully so. Limited to 5,000 units, it comes with a handbuilt engine that unleashes 760 horsepower and 625 pound-feet of torque. Not only is this Ford's most powerful street-legal Mustang ever, it is the company's most powerful street-legal car, period.
A car like that doesn’t go unnoticed on the streets, especially in Metro Detroit. People stop and stare as you drive by, for two reasons: First, the car's brand new; I've only seen one other GT500 on the road around here. Second, the exhaust. When in Sport mode, the GT500 is not subtle. The exhaust roars as the gears shift through its seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
That Tremac gearbox is incredibly smooth, so I’m fine with a DCT instead of a manual. Plus, it allows me to focus completely on handling, which, at 760 horsepower, is more important to me than rowing my own gears. I’d really prefer to not star in the next viral “Mustang leaving Cars and Coffee” video.
The highlight of the week came after grabbing lunch one day, when I found a Competition Orange 2004 Mustang Mach 1 40th anniversary edition with a Cobra Jet engine parked next to the GT500. Not until I saw them side by side did I realize how big the Mustang has become in the past 16 years. It completely dwarfed the 40th Anniversary Edition outside, but thanks to the smooth, incredibly accurate Sport steering mode and the Brembo brakes, the GT500 doesn’t drive big. You can confidently throw it into corners and still feel connected to the road. In Normal mode, the steering becomes a bit numb for my liking. Thankfully you can keep the car in its Normal drive mode and still activate Sport steering, for those early mornings when you don’t want to wake the neighbors as you leave for work. Once you get out of the neighborhood, though, flip it to Sport and all bets are off.
At 6-foot-4, I am always concerned about comfort when getting into performance cars, but not in the GT500. There is more than enough headroom and legroom, and the bolstered Recaro seats feel secure, even when rounding corners right at the speed limit. Visibility is decent as well.
Starting at the not-so-frugal price of $72,900, the Shelby GT500 comes with the 5.2-liter supercharged V8 and the Magneride Damping system standard. Ours was priced at $81,980, with the most expensive option being the Technology Package. Twister Orange, which in my opinion is the best color, costs an additional $495.
It’s not often that a vehicle hits your driveway with more than three times the horsepower of your normal, performance-oriented daily driver, and while $80,000 can buy a variety of vehicles, after a week, the GT500 still somehow felt like a bargain, albeit a beefy, loud and incredibly fast one. It's easily my favorite Ford Mustang to date.