2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 – First Ride

Before you ask, yes, of course we would have preferred a test drive in the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 instead of a test ride, but if you knew the hoops we had to jump through just to plant our asses in the Recaro right seat for an afternoon, you’d understand.

We had an offer from Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT), the folk behind this and other Super Stangs, to ride along during multiple tests at Ford’s Dearborn proving ground. The tests would be followed by an exclusive technical briefing at the SVT garage on the first pony car from the factory that will top 200 mph.

So, yeah, we signed up. Wouldn’t you?

The car in question will be Ford’s perform­ance flagship, equipped with stealth artillery aimed at the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, with its “mere” 580 horsepower, 70 fewer than the Shelby’s supercharged 5.8-liter V-8. Incorporating the regular Mustang’s 2013 styling updates, the Shelby looks less sinister than the Boss 302 Laguna Seca, but what doesn’t?

Perhaps one of the most remarkable aspects of the Shelby is that it will be built on the regular Mustang assembly line in Flat Rock, Michigan, mixed in with all the others. You’re likely to see a V-6 Mustang slide down the line, followed by a Shelby, followed by a Mustang GT, followed by a Boss 302 Laguna Seca—no need to shut down and tool up for a run of  limited-edition cars. This helps keep the price down.

To what, exactly? It’s likely that the 2013 Shelby coupe will start at less than $60,000 when it appears in dealerships in May, but not by much. Production is “limited” to how many the company can sell—Ford would be happy with 10,000 a year—and there will be no effort to cap the run at a certain number.

Gene Martindale, Ford’s development driver for the F-150 SVT Raptor pickup—and, before that, development driver for the Dodge Viper and its GTS-R Le Mans race car—was our on-track host. Martindale prefaced our multiple drives with an apology: It is the proving ground’s unshakable policy that vehicles being tested in the winter months must be fitted with winter tires, though there is no snow on the ground or in the forecast.

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