Nearly fifty years ago, Carroll Shelby proudly displayed his first sports car project -- the 260 Cobra -- at the 1962 New York auto show. Today, the company that bears his name rolled out two new twists on the 2012 Ford Mustang, each designed for completely different customers.
2012 Shelby GTS Mustang
Barring the occasional foray into sport compacts and other interesting projects, Shelby American’s primary focus has long centered upon building premium, high-performance muscle machines. That’s fine and dandy, but corporate executives believe that in order to ensure the company has customers in the decades to come, it needs to develop a younger customer base.
Like the 2007-2008 Shelby GT Mustang, the new 2012 Shelby GTS essentially an affordable stepping stone into the Shelby way of life. Designed with budding enthusiasts in mind, the package, available on both Mustang V-6 and Mustang GT models, promises to bring in some younger shoppers.
As is the case with other Shelby Mustang models, GTS cars incorporate a number of visual revisions designed to set them apart from a standard Mustang. A custom grille and bumper fascia, cribbed from the company’s mid-level GT350 offering, are installed, as is a bespoke ventilated hood. The famed twin racing stripes are standard, as are unique Shelby and Powered By Ford emblems.
Mechanically speaking, GTS models receive new springs, stabilizer bars, and a front strut tower brace from Ford Racing, along with upgraded Baer brakes. The only performance upgrade for either V-6 or V-8 cars is a cold air intake, although customers can opt for a supercharger for either the 3.7- or 5.0-liter engines, boosting power to 475 and 525-624 horsepower, respectively. Other performance options include 6-piston Baer Brakes, adjustable control arms, 18- and 20-inch wheel packages, a two-tone leather interior, and a Watts link rear suspension.
Refrain from dipping into that option list, and the GTS package will run you only $9995 more than a stock 2012 Mustang V-6, or $11,995 over a 2012 Mustang GT. Shelby American officials think many GTS buyers will abstain from those add-ons initially, but ultimately opt to retrofit them as their budgets allow.
2012 Shelby GT500 Super Snake
On the opposite end of the price/ performance spectrum lies the 2012 GT500 Super Snake -- an even more potent take on Ford’s own Shelby GT500 Mustang.
As it rolls off Ford's assembly line, a 2012 GT500’s supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 is already potent, throwing down 550 horsepower and 590 pound-feet of torque. The Super Snake package adds a Ford Racing supercharger and a tweaked ECU, and raises that figure to 750 horsepower.
Impressive, but the big news for 2012 lies with an optional package that adds a Kenne Bell supercharger, and pushes that figure to a whopping 800 ponies. Perhaps even more impressive is the fact that figure is achieved while running regular pump-grade gasoline, and still meets emissions standards in all 50 states.
Shelby American officials are quick to tout the 2012 GT500 Super Snake as the only 800-horsepower supercar that’s priced under $100,000. Stay away from additional options, and that’s correct: the Super Snake package tacks on $34,245 onto a stock GT500, which brings the total price to $82,294. Adding the 800-horsepower package bumps that price up by $1500; tick every single option box, and the total price can creep up towards $97,000.
Considering Shelby himself has a fetish for adding horsepower, could an even more potent Super Snake ever be created? Gary Patterson, Shelby American’s vice president of operations and resident test driver, tells us the company has at least one GT500 SS that’s tuned “well above 1000 horsepower,” but they’re “having difficulties” making that package meet emission standards. Go figure.