Note: We're continually updating this post as we learn more info about the upcoming 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. The last update was made on Feb. 4, 2019.
Ford unveiled the all-new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January. We learned a ton of engineering details about this mega-Mustang, but Ford is still keeping plenty of stuff secret right now. Here's everything we know, and everything we hope to find out, about the baddest factory Mustang ever made.
It'll Be the Most Powerful Ford Ever Made
Ford has not yet revealed the exact power output of the Mustang Shelby GT500. The automaker has only said that it will make more than 700 horsepower from a supercharged 5.2-liter V8. The engine will share its basic dimensions with the naturally aspirated 5.2 in the Mustang Shelby GT350, but as Ford Performance chief engineer Carl Widmann told us at the Detroit auto show, the GT500 engine will have plenty of unique parts, including a cross-plane crankshaft and a massive 2.6-liter Eaton supercharger.
How much power? In late January, Ford Performance manager Jim Owens told us, "our engineering men and women are actually working on the horsepower up until the time we have to finally certify it. We're going to say it's over 700. It's not 701. They're gonna push up until the absolute end to get the most horsepower that we can out of it." Owens promised a final number by the third quarter of 2019.
Still, with more than 700 horsepower, the GT500 out-muscles the 627-horsepower Ford GT—and the previous, 662-hp GT500—for the title of "most powerful street-legal Ford ever built."
It'll Be a Drag Racer and a Track Machine
Whereas previous generations of the GT500 were focused on straight-line acceleration and top speed, the new Shelby aims to be the total package. Ford promises the muscle car will do 0-60 in the mid-three-second range and the quarter mile in under 11 seconds. "What is groundbreaking is it is also the fastest Mustang we've ever produced, left and right," Owens told us in January. "It's gonna do great on the drag strip, sub-11-seconds straight out of the dealership. And it will be the fastest production Mustang on a road course as well."
It'll Come in Two Trim Levels
Owens explained to us that the GT500 will essentially come in two flavors based on how you want to use it. The base-model GT500 will be the quickest in a straight line, while versions equipped with the "Carbon Fiber Handling Package" will be optimized for track duty. That's because this package includes 20-inch carbon-fiber wheels (one inch bigger than the carbon wheels on the GT350R, but not heavier), a giant GT4-inspired carbon-fiber wing, a chin splitter, and deleted rear seats. Both base model and Handling Package examples will ride on 305-width tires on 20-inch wheels at all four corners; base models get Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, while Handling Package cars ride on Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2s, with tread pattern and compound unique to the GT500. According to Owens, both models will be wickedly quick, but the downforce (and drag) from the Handling Package car's two-position rear wing might make it slightly slower in a straight line compared to the base model car.
It Won't Offer a Manual Transmission to Start
Ford intends the new GT500 to be a no-compromise performance machine. And in this modern era, that means an automatic transmission. Ford skipped the 10-speed automatic found in lesser Mustangs in favor of an all-new dual-clutch seven-speed automatic developed with Tremec—different from the Getrag seven-speed dual-clutch in the Ford GT. According to Owens, if you're desperate for a three-pedal manual, the Mustang Shelby GT350 is for you; there are no current plans to put an automatic in the GT350, and no plans to offer a manual on the GT500.
But a Stick Shift Could Become Available Sometime Later
At the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, Widmann hinted that, if customer demand is great enough, Ford could possibly look into a way of including a three-pedal manual transmission in the Mustang Shelby GT500. We'd definitely be in favor of that.
It Sounds Like This
The Mustang Shelby GT500 will have four exhaust modes: Quiet, Normal, Sport and Track. We got to hear it rev in all four modes, inside and out. Yeah, it sounds pretty awesome.
The Body Is Unique From the A-Pillar Forward
Owens told R&T that the Mustang Shelby GT500's entire structure is new from the windshield forward, with geometry that's unique from the base Mustang and the GT350. This, along with some tricky supercharger packaging, allowed Ford to fit that giant 2.6-liter supercharger without having to add a hood bulge—important for outward vision on a race track. With a wider track, massive tires and flared fenders, the front suspension had to be altered from the base Mustang as well.
But it Still Has the Old Headlights From the GT350
Notice something a bit old about the GT500? That's right: It has the headlights from the 2015-2017 pre-facelift Mustang. Those lamps were changed for the 2018 model year in the base model Mustang and the Mustang GT. But the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT500 still use the old headlights. Why? The GT500 uses the carbon-fiber grille opening/radiator support structure originally designed for the GT350. This carbon fiber piece reduces weight and increases airflow, but it wasn't compatible with the facelifted headlights. Thus, the newest performance Mustang uses slightly older lamps. Nah, we didn't think you'd mind.
Ford's Aiming for Some Tough Competitors
Before the car's official unveiling in January 2019, spies caught Ford testing the GT500 against some major competition. testing in Arizona with a Camaro ZL1, which seems like an obvious target. After all, the previous-gen Mustang GT500 and Camaro ZL1, both supercharged brutes, squared off back in 2012.
A less obvious rival for the GT500 is the Porsche 911 GT3. Interestingly, Mustang6G.com caught near its Michigan headquarters. This doesn't necessarily mean that Ford is trying to build a GT3 rival, but Ford's emphasis on track capabilities in the new GT500 certainly make us think they wanted to learn something from Porsche's track monster.
We'll Learn More Later This Year
There's still plenty we don't know about the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, including exact horsepower and torque figures, precise 0-60 and 1/4-mile times, top speed, curb weight, and price. Owens told R&T that the final details on this super-Mustang will be available in the third quarter of 2019. We can't wait to find out more about this car.