2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Introduction

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Introduction

OK, signal’s green, ease out clutch, ease on throttle…

Damn! Wheel spin…

OK, ease off throttle, let it hook up, OK good, now back on the throttle…

Wheel spin again?

Good Lord this thing is powerful!

OK, ease out the cutch, feather the throttle…whew…it hooked up.

Now, let’s run it up in first gear…just over 60 miles per hour at redline—wow!

Now…shift to second…WHEEL SPIN!

And so went my test drive of the 662-horsepower, 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500; the Mustang fitted with the most powerful production V8 ever nestled onto a set of motor mounts — in a car intended for the street.

Of course, I did more than spin the tires and scream up and down through the gears. (Though I will confess I did quite a bit of that too.) I also trundled around town, went abut mundane day-today activities, and just generally lived with the GT500 like it was any other car.

Here’s what happened…

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Models & Prices

At a base price of $54,995, this is anything BUT an inexpensive Mustang. However, when the performance potential is taken into consideration, that number starts looking like a relative bargain. After all, cars posting horsepower numbers in this range are typically priced well into the “six digits and two commas” realm of the automotive hierarchy.

A model unto itself within the Mustang range, in addition to that incredible engine, the Shelby GT500 houses a single-piece carbon fiber driveshaft, a high capacity dual-disc clutch, and a transmission featuring an upgraded housing, gears and bearings. Brembobrakes with six-piston front calipers, 14.96-inch vented front rotors and 13.78-inch vented rear rotors stop the Shelby Mustang.

The GT500’s launch control system lets drivers predetermine their launch rpm depending on the tire temperature, street surface or other conditions. Very simple to use, one simply sets the desired rev count and floors the throttle. The engine will rev to the preset rpm and hold until the clutch is released. An explosive acceleration event then ensues.

The Shelby GT500’s Performance Package takes it a step beyond the “basic” model. Priced at $3,495, it consists of Ford’s SVT (Special Vehicles Team)-designed Bilstein electronic adjustable dampers (shock absorbers) and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

This offering can also be coupled with a Track Package ($2,995) for all-out racetrack performance. Components of the Track Package include an external engine oil cooler, a differential cooler, and a transmission cooler.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Design

The basic lines of the Mustang lend themselves nicely to customization, and while different iterations of the car look essentially the same, Ford’s design team manages to make each contemporary permutation of the iconic pony car reflect its own identity.

For the ultimate performance version of the Mustang, all of the styling cues aid the car’s performance capabilities in some way. As an example, the front splitter under the chin of the Mustang helps keep the nose of the car planted, even at its 200 miles per hour top speed. The black-painted upper and lower grille inserts expose the radiator for maximum cooling and helps funnel air to internal vehicle systems, while also creating downforce at high speed.

The forged-aluminum wheels are staggered in size — 19-inch front and 20-inch rear —and coupled with very aggressive-looking Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G: 2 tires. In addition to looking exceptionally badass, the wheels reduce weight and keep the super-sticky tires firmly attached to the car.

The body-colored side skirts help air flow around the GT500 more efficiently at high speed, while the distinctive LED daytime running lights improve the Mustang’s visibility, not that it’s really needed. This Mustang really turns heads. Yes, the coiled up Cobra logos on its flanks command respect, but people just seem to instinctively know this is one, very serious Ford Mustang.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo

My test car was hooked up with a pair of the optional Recaro racing seats configured to accept four-point racing harnesses. Exceptionally supportive, the seats held me firmly in place, as the supercharged V8 and I rapidly converted premium unleaded into distance.

Cargo capacity is about on par with a standard Mustang as well, which is to say it’s good, but it isn’t great. But come on y’all, is anybody buying this car based on the size of its trunk, the number of cubbies in the interior, or the number of cupholders it contains?

I will say the Recaros do make it difficult to access the back seat as well as the storage pockets in the doors of the Shelby, but again, how big a deal is that in this car?

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Features & Controls

The competent ergonomics of the Mustang’s interior are a strong foundation for the high performance nature of the GT500. All controls fall readily to hand and function logically. One of the Mustang’s greatest strengths lies in the simplicity of its controls.

Yes, the current Mustang’s interior setup is getting a bit long in the tooth, but it works. And frankly, given a choice between having a big chunk of the Shelby’s development money put into the interior; or put into the engine, brakes, suspension and aerodynamics… seriously, is that really a choice?

A really nice feature is the centrally mounted productivity screen configured to impart information regarding the car’s performance activities. Navigated through a five-way control button located on the steering wheel, the system’s readout is positioned between the tachometer and speedometer, where the SVT logo appears when the Shelby GT500 is started.

It will show you the launch control parameters you’ve selected, in addition to the AdvanceTrac, steering and suspension settings you’ve chosen. The system also delivers performance information like measuring the g-forces the car pulls while accelerating, cornering and braking. There’s an acceleration timer screen, offers options to measure 0-30 mph, 0-60 mph, 0-100 mph, eighth-mile and quarter-mile times. It offers a choice of either automatic start or countdown start and even features a drag racing start light.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Safety & Ratings

Safety kit includes antilock disc brakes, traction control, stability control, and front-seat side airbags. The GT500 is based on the Ford Mustang coupe, which scored four stars out of five in NHTSA crash testing. It also posted four stars for frontal-impact safety and another four stars for side-impact safety.

The IIHS gave Mustang coupe its “Good” top score in frontal-offset crashes and its second best “Acceptable” rating in side-impact tests.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy

As I mentioned before, the most powerful V8 engine ever fitted to a mass production road going car resides beneath the GT500’s engine cover — a 5.8-liter supercharged V8, generating 662 horsepower and 631 ft-lbs of torque. All that wheel spin can be directly attributed to the fact 395 ft-lbs of that torque is lurking just off idle. The only transmission offered with the Shelby Mustang is a six-speed manual.

The EPA estimates the GT500’s fuel economy at 15 mpg in the city, 24 on the highway, and 18 combined. Exuberantly exploiting the Mustang GT500’s performance potential as I did, I still managed a quite remarkable 15 mpg overall.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions

Having driven the Boss 302 version of the Mustang prior to driving the GT500, I was surprised at the comparatively subdued aural signature of the Shelby Mustang. It’s quiet in comparison to the Boss. That said, the GT500 still emits wonderful exhaust noises coupled with a bit of supercharger whine thrown in for good measure. Running near redline, the Shelby Mustang screams like a barely contained racing car.

The truly mind-boggling thing about driving the GT500 — once you figure out how to get it to go without shredding its rear tires every time a signal turns green — is how amazingly fast you’re going, even though it doesn’t feel like it. The car contains its performance potential very well. It is quite possibly the best screwed down Mustang I’ve ever driven.

Still though, you do have to be very careful when you’re trying to launch the car quickly from a standstill. Give it too much too soon and you’ll leave two very long black stripes and a Cumulus cloud of blue Goodyear Eagle F1 SuperCar G:2 smoke in your wake. Further, hard shifts between gears can also induce wheel spin, all the way up through fourth gear. You can shift gears at freeway speeds and have the back end break loose on you.

Body roll is minimal and stability is outstanding — for the most part. Bumpy roads do throw it a bit off kilter, but the Shelby doesn’t wander about at high speeds. In fact, the Shelby Mustang tracks straight and very true. Yes, its steering does feel a bit lighter at greatly elevated speeds than it does at moderate speeds, but nothing that would make you worry about losing control of the car.

Cornering technique is pretty simple, feed it carefully in; accelerate gently out — again being mindful not to lay into the throttle too hard too soon. You’ll break the rear end loose. If drifting is your thing, the world has never seen an easier road car to induce into sideways travel. Simply point the GT500 into a corner, nail the throttle, crank the wheel, and you’re drifting pal — big time!

And yet, the Shelby sticks really well when driven with finesse. This is a very rewarding car to drive briskly on a twisty road. The brakes play along very well too, easily modulated and capable of repeatedly scrubbing off insanely prodigious amounts of accumulated acceleration, you’ll find a very strong ally in the Shelby’s brakes.

The shifter’s throws are positive and the gates are well-defined, you’ll have to try to get lost in the gearbox. The pedals are situated nicely for heel and toe downshifts, and the free revving nature of the engine makes blipping the throttle to match revs an absolute joy.

Steering and suspension systems are adjustable for comfort, normal, and sport settings. I found the sport setting of the suspension a bit stiff for normal roads, but perfect on smooth pavement. The steering actually felt better and more responsive to me in the comfort mode than it did in the sport mode. For my tastes, all the sport mode did was make the steering feel heavy.

Remarkably though, even with all of this performance potential afoot, trundling around town, if you’re gentle with the throttle, you can be just as civil as the driver in the Civic.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts

This, most assuredly is a car YOU drive, you do not let this car drive you. If you do, you’ll wind up in very serious trouble, in very short order. The 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is exceptionally powerful and priced to be within reach of a vast number of individuals. Thing is, with great power truly does come considerable responsibility. In the wrong hands, this car is the automotive equivalent of a thermonuclear incident just waiting to happen.

On the other hand, poised beneath a seasoned driver with good car control skills, the GT500 is more fun than spring break in Cabo when you’re 19 and away from your family for the first time. The stuff this car will let you get away with is absolutely mind-blowing.

That it was the last car to bear Carroll Shelby’s name just before he died also adds to the sentimental appeal of the hardest-charging Mustang. I hate to say it, but this bodes well for the collector value of the car.

Yeah, 60 grand is a lot of money for a Mustang, there are a vast number of interesting cars that can be had for that money. However, none of them will be as powerful at the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 — none of them.

2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons


• Power, power, and more power

• Sounds heavenly

• Looks good/handles beautifully

• Future collectable


• Stiff ride in some circumstances

• Insurance will cost big time

• Interior treatment a bit dated

• A $61,000 Mustang…seriously?

By Lyndon Conrad Bell

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