Before the Los Angeles Auto Show this past November, Ford parked a bunch of Ford Mustang Shelby GT350s, 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500s, and Ford Mustang Bullitts in the parking garage under a hotel, and gave the keys to journalists. Prior to taking the sports coupes on a beautiful canyon drive, journalists fired up the V8 motors and revved them in the garage, creating the greatest sound an auto enthusiast could ever hope to hear. Listen to this.
Ford flew a bunch of journalists, including me, out to LA to check out the new 2020 Ford Mustang Mach-E that was making its world debut. As part of the media program, The Blue Oval built in a few hours for canyon carving in Ford Mustangs on the incredible Angeles Crest Highway.
The event began with a labyrinthian descent into a below-ground parking garage, where dozens of shrimp and free-booze-fed journalists were greeted by a rainbow of Ford Mustangs. [Clarification: This is jokingly considered the official diet of car journalists. We didn’t actually eat shrimp or drink free booze immediately prior to this drive].
I wasn’t entirely sure what we were doing or why, but it seemed to me that Ford wanted to impress the mass of auto journalists in town for the car show, and what better way to do that than to give them the keys to some ridiculously fast Mustangs and point them toward one of the greatest driving roads in America?
The lineup consisted of 39 cars in total, 13 of which were 760-horsepower Mustang Shelby GT500s, six were 526-HP GT350s, five were 480-HP Bullitts, 12 were 332-HP Ford Mustang EcoBoost High Performance Package models, and three were “miscellaneous” (there was a convertible GT and I don’t know the other two).
That’s roughly 20,000 HP worth of Ford Mustangs all in a tiny echoey parking garage. And though the video above probably doesn’t do it justice, the 5.2-liter supercharged “Predator” V8 in those 13 GT500s, harmonizing with the rev-happy “Voodoo” V8 in the GT350s and the standard 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8s in the Bullitts created the most aurally thunderous sensation I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. (We won’t talk about the EcoBoost’s sound).
With all the engines fired up, a baseline “beat” developed from the low-frequency rumbles emanating from the cars’ quad exhausts. Adding to that baseline were flares of brilliance as drivers, unable to resist, pressed their rightmost pedals and sent ear-bursting pressure waves through the air and bouncing off the garage walls, amplifying one another through constructive interference.
Reaching a higher and higher pitch as the revs climbed, each Mustang’s loud growl turned into a downright violent roar, and when multiple cars sang at the same tune, it felt like an acoustic earthquake was taking place in my cochlea.
Now partially deaf, I hopped into the passenger’s seat of a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350, and introduced myself to the young Motor Trend writer sitting behind the steering wheel. We headed northwest out of the garage and into the canyons.
I’ll admit that I was a bit nervous sitting in the passenger’s seat of a 500+ horsepower car with a young car journalist behind the wheel and sheer cliffs on either side of the road, but I have to admit, this recent college graduate could whip it. Here’s a little video I took of him making the GT350 do work before being slowed down by a Toyota Prius:
He made that flat plane crank-equipped V8 rev to the top of its range through those canyons, and sent the GT350 through the twisty roads at a pace that made the tires squeal at the very limits of grip.
We traded seats, and in short order, I found myself marveling at the perfectly notchy short-throw shifter, the immense power from that high-revving motor, the awesome speed at which I could navigate tight turns, the exhilarating exhaust note, and the surprisingly decent ride quality. The GT350 is somehow both an incredibly visceral and deeply satisfying driver’s car as well as a daily-drivable machine. Remarkable.
After over 50 miles driving up Angeles Crest Highway, we stopped for lunch, and I gandered at all of the Mustangs parked out front of the restaurant. The video above shows the vehicles in attendance; it was quite a collection and drew a crowd of onlookers. The GT500s were especially popular, with the air extractors in the hood, the giant wings, and the huge mouths giving them an especially aggressive appearance.
Speaking of GT500s, the young Motor Trend journalist and I took one back down to the hotel, and it, too, was fantastic. Here’s the young-gun whipping the snake through the canyons:
We swapped places, and I got to experience 760 unbridled HP flowing through a ridiculously quick-shifting Tremec TR-9070 seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. And of course, I listened to the 2.65-liter “inverted roots” style supercharger. God that was glorious.
Still, as fun as the GT500 was, the GT350 was far more enjoyable thanks to that excellent Tremec TR-3160 manual transmission. I’ve been daydreaming about that manual transmission ever since I drove it.
Though not nearly as much as I’ve been dreaming about that parking garage. I will never forget that incredible orchestra of V8s.