Anyone who knows even the littlest bit about American performance cars knows who Carroll Shelby is. Shelby was a racing and tuning legend, the man responsible for the original Mustang being available with a V8 and being at the helm of Ford’s Le Mans project, which allowed them to take home the championship in 1966, beating Ferrari. Although he dabbled with a few other American cars, it’s a well-known fact that the most special editions of the ford Mustang bear his name and the cobra badge.
The first ever Shelby Mustang was the GT350 in 1965, and it’s a total racing legend. The first ever GT500 came out in 1967, and it’s a rare case of a muscle car that even non-car enthusiasts know about. The last Shelby GT500 that Caroll Shelby was involved with directly was the 2013 model, before his unfortunate passing in 2012. The latest generation Shelby GT500 still proudly bears the name, and it pushes the Shelby Mustang envelope further than ever before.
Overview Of The 2021 Shelby GT500
The Shelby GT500 is the most powerful and fastest variant of the Ford Mustang that’s currently available. It’s also the only way to get a Shelby Mustang as of 2021, due to the discontinuation of the incredible GT350 and GT350R.
The closest rival to the GT500 would be the Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody, although truth be told, the GT500 can trade punches with the best sports cars, and beat a lot of them in more ways than one.
On the outside, there’s no mistaking the GT500 from the regular Mustang. There’s an aggressive body kit, sizable quad exhaust pipes, a unique front end design, unique wheels and a rear spoiler. If that’s not enough, the exhaust note should be a distinguishing factor.
Obviously, you can’t talk about the GT500 without mentioning the Carbon Fiber Track Package. Visually, the CFTP-equipped cars get a wing pinched from the Mustang GT4 race car, a more aggressive front splitter, and most notably of all, unique wheels machined from carbon fiber. Model year 2021 adds adjustable drivetrain components to this package, and three new exterior color choices.
2021 Shelby GT500 Powertrain And Drivetrain
The Shelby GT500 is available with only one powertrain and drivetrain combo. Under the hood is a 5.2-liter supercharged V8, developing 760 hp and 625 lb-ft of torque. Unlike the GT350, the GT500 uses a cross-plane crank as opposed to flat-plane one.
Thanks to the immense power output, the GT500 is the most powerful production Ford model of all time. Ford says that the GT500 can reach 60 mph in 3.3 seconds, and rocket to a top speed of 180 mph.
All that power is sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed dual clutch automatic transmission. A manual is still not available on the GT500, but the automatic is so good that a manual could potentially compromise the performance.
As well as the ultra sticky tires and lightweight carbon fiber wheels, the GT500 also benefits from magnetic dampers. Without getting too technical, this makes it basically unstoppable on the race track. As far as track performance and all-around performance is concerned, the GT500 is easily the best Mustang in history—even better than the Boss 302 Laguna Seca.
Comfort And Quality In The 2021 Shelby GT500
On the inside, the GT500 is almost standard Mustang fare. There’s a unique steering wheel, with a 12 o’clock marker up top and heavier bolstering, as well as the cobra badge in the middle. The digital gauge cluster that was introduced on the facelifted Mustang in 2018 is standard, and so too are all the infotainment features.
In a bid to save weight, stuff like the heated and ventilated seats have been removed. A side effect of the DCT is the appearance of Ford’s turn-dial gear selector, instead of the regular shift lever that 10-speed auto Mustangs receive.
There’s also a plaque on the dash telling you where in the production line your car stands, as well as a unique set of bucket seats. Other than that, it’s mostly the same as any other Mustang in the lineup.
Like all other Mustangs, the GT500 can seat four passengers, but it doesn’t have to. Should you choose and if your dealership wants to do it, you can have a rear seat delete on the GT500 to save a little extra weight.
2021 Shelby GT500: Pricing And Launch
The 2021 GT500 is available to order as of August 2021. The base MSRP of the GT500 is around $72,000. That’s not exactly cheap, but this is a lot of car for the money.
There are two major option packages that are worth noting. The Carbon Fiber Handling Package, which is $10,000, and the Carbon Fiber Track Package, which is a considerable $18,000. If you plan to use your GT500 on the race track, it’s a good idea to option at least one of those.
The 2021 Shelby GT500 is at the top of its game. The modernized Mustang platform combined with the brilliant engineering and the insane power output make it not just the best Mustang of all time, but also one of the best all-around performance cars currently available.