Like the sun rising in the east and Taylor Swift singing breakup songs, so too does life’s certainties include car dealers trying to squeeze huge profits off hot models. The latest example: the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang, which has spawned a level of price gouging not seen since the heyday of the Hellcat.
Built as the top performer in the Mustang line (for now) the GT350 and its 526-hp V-8 is a glorious machine well worth some drooling. At a base price of $48,000 for the GT350 or $61,000 for the track-prepped GT350R, the amount of performance and enjoyment comes close to vehicles at twice the price—which is one reason why a couple of dealers are asking for more than twice as much.
Van Bortel Ford in East Rochester, N.Y., (slogan: “There’s Nothing We Won’t Do For You!”) has a 2015 Shelby GT350 ready to roll for the no-haggle price of $149,500. Strangely, the sticker for the car isn’t posted, but similar models suggest the “market adjustment” here is at least $90,000. That dealer justifies its price in part on rarity, as Ford only built 137 Shelby GT350s and 350Rs for 2015.
Gouging on the more readily available 2016 model hasn’t hit that peak yet, but there’s still at least three dealers trying to sell GT350s for more than $100,000, almost double their true sticker price, and several more in the $90,000 range. (We’re going to ignore the seller trying to unload a GT350R on Hemmings for $175,000 because they don’t even have the car yet; Powerball tickets have a better chance of paying off.)
Basic economic theory would say that the market will eventually settle on the price it will bear, and these dealers do have one data point on their side. Last week, Mecum Auctions sold a brand-new, never titled 2015 Shelby GT350 non-R edition for $115,000. Officially, Ford and other automakers discourage these kind of markups—but as 40 years of history from Datsuns to Dodge Hellcats shows, dealers are gonna deal.