Ford's Shelby GT500 is the real, vulgarian deal. Sure, its faults are numerous: It's too fat (3,920 lbs.) and too much of that lard is near the nose (58/42 front-rear split); the ride is utter garbage; the transmission feels like it's made from old nautical rope, and above 80 mph the road noise is like the inside of a dumpster that's being slammed by drunks with aluminum bats. And who cares? Certainly not me. True, a Dodge Viper will wend its way around a track faster, but when the Shelby catches up, it'll slash the Dodge's tires and piss in its gas tank.
There isn't much to this 'Stang except engine. Beneath the bulged hood resides a 5.4-liter block of pig iron, topped with aluminum heads from the Ford GT and finished with an Eaton supercharger and intercooler setup. Altogether, this badassed chorus produces 500 hp and 480 lbs. ft. of torque at the flywheel. The day before I took possession of the white-with-blue beauty, FoMoCo slapped it on a dyno and recorded 448.3 hp pummeling the rear wheels. For math majors, that's 89.96% of engine horsepower, a number any racing engineer would agree plows past respectable and all the way to scandalous.
Aside from the mondo engine, the GT500 also comes with suspension tweaks, a Tremec six-speed, 14" brakes with four-piston Brembo stoppers, seven hissing snakes and huge 18" x 11" wheels out back. And you'll need those meats, because the GT500's acceleration is just bonkers. It takes 4.5 seconds to hit 60 mph, a time attack on par with the Lamborghini Gallardo. A Corvette Z06 will leave the Shelby for dead in a quarter-mile, but the ber-Vette only goes forward. The GT500 moves 80 feet laterally across the same distance. And that's with the traction control on. Go nannyless and the GT500 will out-boogie Emmitt Smith. Plus, there's so much torque available across the rev range, you can chirp sixth at 80 mph (a trick I couldn't resist performing repeatedly).
The GT500 is also more practical than the typical supercar. Aside from seating 3.5 adults in relative discomfort, the trunk is more than usable. I hauled two huge bags of clothes down to the Goodwill and then immediately rocketed the Shelby up the awesome Angeles Crest Highway, hard-charging at motorcycles all the way to the 6,000-foot summit. Then, I turned her around and drove straight to LAX, grabbing my friend and his luggage. Fine, maybe you could do the same with a BMW M6, but you'd look like a jackass asking for a receipt from Goodwill. And if you make sure to mix in some highway miles with your constant clutch droppage, you'll average around 18 mpg. Behaving just as obnoxiously, I only saw 11 mpg from an Audi RS4.
Back to the GT500's most obvious Detroit counterpart. Whereas the Z06 feels like the best effort from a team o'engineers with advanced degrees and a no-limit budget, the Shelby vibes like a few buddies slapped the thing together in the garage between beer runs. (It's making that noise again Jim. Where's the brass hammer?) The Chevy is purpose-built to beat Germans and Italians around the N rburgring Nordschleife, but the Ford is on earth to murder Goodyears and win pinks. The Corvette is an Ivy League blue-blood with no fashion sense. The GT500 is Frank McCourt's father with anger-management issues.