What It Is: The Shelby GT500, soon to become the most powerful Mustang in Ford’s pony-car stable. The nameplate isn’t new, but it hasn’t terrorized Chevrolets and Dodges since the previous generation departed after 2014.
Why It Matters: Chevrolet recently trotted out the 650-hp Camaro ZL1, while the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat (you know, the 707-hp one) is in its third year on sale. There’s also that not insignificant, although narrowly focused, 840-hp Challenger SRT Demon. In this power cabal, Ford and its Mustang have been conspicuously absent.
Platform: Whereas the less powerful Mustang Shelby GT350 gallops into the 2018 model year without the updated styling worn by the rest of the Mustang lineup, the GT500 most definitely will inherit the new look. It also will expand on those visuals with a generally steroidal makeover, including air intakes that—were they not covered with grilles—just might be capable of sucking in whole geese. Visible in these spy photos are the GT500’s front-end scowl, large vents behind each front wheel (covered here by zippered panels), and aggressive rear diffuser.
Oh, and did we mention the big-ass tires? Ford engineers have shaved most of the sidewall markings off this prototype’s rubber, but enough was left on the front tire for us to make out that it’s a substantial 305/30ZR-20 Michelin. We’d wager the GT500 will use the latest Michelin Pilot Sport 4S and that the rear tires will be even wider than the fronts.
Powertrain: These latest spy photos bring us no closer to figuring out what, exactly, will power the GT500. We know that the mightiest Mustang will feature a forced-induction V-8 under its blistered hood, but our sources won’t yet give up whether it will be supercharged or strapped with twin turbos. The Shelby GT500 could receive a supercharged version of the GT350’s 5.2-liter Voodoo V-8, albeit with a regular 90-degree crankshaft instead of that model’s 180-degree piece.
There is increasing chatter that pegs the motivator as a twin-turbocharged version of the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter Coyote V-8. While such an engine certainly would line up with Ford’s EcoBoost engine branding, it likely would fall woefully short on the “eco” part of the equation. After initially buying that possibility, we’re now placing our chips on supercharging, not least because the previous GT500 was supercharged. That older model made 662 horsepower from a blown 5.8-liter V-8. Expect the 2018 version to pump out something in the neighborhood of 700 horsepower. A six-speed manual transmission will be standard, while the same 10-speed automatic used by the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and co-developed by Ford and General Motors will be optional.
Competition: BMW M4, Cadillac ATS-V coupe, Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, Mercedes-AMG C63 S coupe.
Estimated Arrival and Price: Look for the maximum Mustang to reach dealerships before year’s end, wearing a sticker price of $65,000—although transaction prices initially may be higher.