For 2011, the Shelby GT500 is just plain awesome. Really, it was awesome last year too. But now it’s 200 pounds lighter than the 2010 model, thanks mostly to an aluminum engine block, and has 10 more horsepower squeezed out of the blown 5.4-liter V-8. The powerplant now makes an unbelievable 550 hp — 45 more than a Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
The six-speed manual transmission is precise, and the gears click into place nicely. Punching the gas pedal will paste a permanent smile onto your face. The 2.75-inch stainless exhaust compliments the 5.4-liter V-8’s engine note, but it can’t cover up the insane whine coming from the supercharger as revs rise-which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
It’s hard not to like the Shelby GT500. Any car nut can appreciate the heritage behind the name, and the car is an absolute riot to drive.
Mike Ofiara, Road Test Coordinator
I’m always of two minds when I drive the Shelby GT500. One part of me revels in its tire shredding, supercharged V-8 glory. For all the whining you’ll hear about the live rear axle, it does an absolutely fantastic job putting 550 horsepower to the ground-provided that ground is relatively smooth. It’s also more fun than any muscle car should be on curvy roads, where the 200-pound weight loss is definitely noticeable and appreciated. The Mustang’s interior is a bit out of its depth for this price range, but is still great looking and well-assembled.
On the other hand, $55,330 is a lot of money. Chevrolet Corvette Gran Sport money, actually. In my opinion at least, a well-sorted muscle car like the GT500 is still no match for a well-sorted sports car like the ‘Vette. At the other end of the spectrum, the Mustang GT we had in the office recently was about $20,000 less, and was very nearly as much fun to drive.
What that all means is that the GT500 is an excellent all around performer, but ultimately, it will still sell to people who want the best Mustang their money can buy, rather than the best car or the best value.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Even if I had $55 grand to spend on a fun car, the Shelby GT500 would be a very bad idea for me, since I’d surely soon be in jail with the car confiscated… It’s just so easy to find yourself going WAY faster than the speed limit, sometimes in a haze of tire smoke.
I love the burbly exhaust note on downshifts, although it is a bit too subtle for me and seemingly only available when you downshift aggressively when you’re slowing down. There’s nothing subtle about the sound of the engine’s supercharger, though, as Mike pointed out. I found it a bit off-putting, but I’m sure an owner would get used to it fairly quickly. The 550 hp is very easy to get used to but difficult to use judiciously. The tight-patterned, notchy six-speed manual is a nearly perfect match to the engine-and the entire car as a whole-although I did find its effort to be a bit too stiff for my liking (it also seemed harder than the previous GT500). I love the Alcantara-like steering-wheel grips at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Fantastic brakes, too!
The biggest advantage that a Shelby Mustang has over a Roush- or Saleen-modified Mustang is probably its eye-catching-but-still-not-tacky styling. Indeed, several thirty-something guys were extremely impressed by the GT500’s aggressive looks. Count me among them.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2011 Shelby GT500 Coupe
Base price (with destination): $49,495
Price as tested: $55,330
5.4-liter supercharged V-8 engine
6-speed manual transmission
3.55 ratio limited-slip axle
Sport bucket seats
Shaker 500 audio system
AM/FM/Single CD/MP3 player
Sirius satellite radio
Brembo front disc brakes
Advancetrac with electronic stability control
Tire pressure monitoring system
Options on this vehicle:
SVT performance package — $3495
Shelby rear deck lid spoiler
3.73 ratio limited slip axle
19-inch front wheels; 20-inch rear wheels
Shelby racing stripes
Electronics package — $2340
Voice-activated navigation system
Dual-zone automatic climate control
Key options not on vehicle:
Glass roof — $1995
Shaker 1000 sound system — $1295
15 / 23 / 19 mpg
Size: 5.4L supercharged DOHC V-8
Horsepower: 550 hp @ 6200 rpm
Torque: 510 lb-ft @ 4250 rpm
Curb weight: 3820 lb
19-inch front; 20-inch rear forged aluminum wheels
265/40ZR19 front; 285/35ZR20 rear Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires