2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Road Test Review
by Martha Hindes
2013 Sexy Car Buyer's Guide - Top 10 Most Sex Appeal
Women don't like sports cars. Right? Wrong! Whoever perpetuates that myth doesn't know the female psyche. Or maybe it's just simple envy when we drive the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 coupe (20th Anniversary SVT edition) and have females drooling all over it. Case in point. Denise took pictures with her smart phone. Jessica inhaled the new car smell, evident despite 4K on the odometer, as she scanned the neat, uncomplicated instrument panel with a critical eye. Julie just kept saying "WOW!"
“I'm a Mustang girl,” said Mickey Bassett of Grosse Pointe, Michigan, as she trailed her fingers temptingly along the roof line. Her passion for the legendary muscle car was evident after we caught her attention during a quick stop before setting off for a test drive that Ford arranged for Road & Travel's 17th Annual Sexy Car Buyer’s Guide. Of course the “Stang” had to be on the list.
Bassett – “The same spelling as Angela Bassett,” Mickey continued – definitely has a Mustang in her future in a half dozen years sans kids who now bring dirty shoes, fountain drinks and munchies in tow when they ride. They'll be banned from Mustang's rear seating for two. Her plan is no idle wish. Each year she rents a Mustang convertible to use on her August birthday. Like many fans, she knows the delicious details that make this car, especially the 2013 Shelby, so special: The cobra logo on steering wheel and seat backs, cobra decals outside, wide racing stripes on both the exterior (white on our "red candy" test model) and as inserts in our car's black leather seating, the white knob atop the Shelby's six-speed, manual-only transmission shifter. She adds that maintenance is easier and cheaper on all Mustangs than with some competitive models. With family in the auto business, she's done her homework.
Bassett isn't unusual in the Ford Mustang world. There are clubs all over that celebrate this rear-drive vehicle that ignited the "pony car" stampede some six decades ago (Ford calls it a sports car) and bears a discernible Mustang look with side scoops, triads of boxy tail lamps, a definitive nose layered with air intakes, that looks like no other auto. They're the purists who effectively booed Ford back to sanity a few years ago when word circulated it would drop the Stang in favor of the short-lived, front-drive Probe, or at least retire it as Chevrolet and Dodge did with the old Camaro and Challenger respectively. Apparently Ford listened.
So what is the company offering those loyalists who demanded something special with the 2013 version of their sanctified idol? Beyond the expected buffet of Ford Sync-based cutting edge electronics, there's true track DNA. That jumps out immediately from the instrument panel gauges toggled to track-only racing settings, as the ignition sets off the distinctive rumble of an astonishing 662 horses galloping under hood. (Not a misprint). The supercharged 5.8-liter V-8 churns out 631 lb.-ft. of torque. And 20-inch rear wheels (19-inch front) are always ready to burn if poised at a stoplight nose by nose with a new generation Chevrolet Camaro.
Have some weekend time at the track in mind? This special Shelby can accommodate with "launch control," with "acceleration timer" for those zero-to-30, -60, -100 or quarter mile increments, with a backlit redline from 7 to 8 set into the dominant tachometer anchored with a bright red SVT (for Ford's "Special Vehicle Team," aka performance). The invitation is there. Just waiting.
For those who love to dream or impress, Ford states that the nose and air intake design helps the Shelby handle speeds as lofty as 200 mph. An optional Bilstein-enhanced performance package changes normal to sport mode for better track control.
Even though we suspect its home base would be a drag strip, we stayed on public streets during our Shelby test drive. But that didn't mute the excitement. The surge of power with every shift revved up the thrill. Despite all that power, it responded easily with complete control on straightaways or curves, and spread a huge halo over every other Mustang around, no matter how gutsy. We can envision a whole line of Mickey Bassett’s heading to Ford showrooms to check out the range of Mustang models.
While an entry level six-cylinder 2013 Stang can be had for a $22,995 base, even a Mustang owner who can cough up the $65K for this special anniversary edition needs some street legal driving at times. Save for a few expressway entrance punch-downs on the accelerator, we didn't overdo it, but still had it slurp down premium gasoline at the EPA city rate of 15 miles to a gallon (24 highway - (fueleconomy.gov). That's the only penalty we could find for this steamy babe bait, as Ford brags it's the most fuel efficient auto with horsepower above 550 sold in America. And there's no a gas tax penalty. Now if we could coax someone as sharp and cool as Angela Bassett to check it out, we think a heat wave would be inevitable.