Carroll Shelby, an American racer and entrepreneur, transformed the Ford Mustang into a dominant road racing machine. In 1967 he took his legendary Mustang GT350 model further to craft the first-generation Shelby GT500 with a modified 428-cubic-inch V8 inspired by his teams finish at Le Mans.

Shelby called the original Shelby GT500 “the first real car I’m proud of.” Today, the legacy continues with the third-generation 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500.

The 2020 Shelby GT500 is poised to be the quickest and most powerful street-legal production Mustang. Ford hasn’t shared the official power figures but says it will produce over 700 horsepower.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Twister Orange

“As a Mustang, it has to be attainable and punch above its weight,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director, Ford Performance vehicle programs. “To that end, we’ve set a new standard among American performance cars with our most powerful street-legal V8 engine to date.”

When the GT500 arrives this fall, it is projected to post mid-three-second 0-60 mph times and sub-11-second quarter-mile times. To accomplish this, the car received a hand-built double-overhead-cam engine that shares the aluminum block, bore and stroke of the Shelby GT350, with the addition of block and head structure, improved oil and cooling capacity, plus a cross-plane crank to support its higher horsepower.

Helping to deliver more than 700 horsepower is a 2.65-liter Eaton supercharger. A unique roots-type compressor features an inverted design with charged air output at the top for more compact packaging – one that allows for a larger air-to-liquid intercooler for consistent track performance.

Keeping everything cool is six heat exchangers packed neatly behind a front fascia that has twice the opening volume of the Shelby GT350. Dual hot-side thermostats improve coolant flow and increase cooling capacity in extreme operating conditions. A cast aluminum oil pan mounts to both the block and transmission for added strength and reduced engine vibration. Inside the 11-quart pan are active baffles to channel oil to the sump during extreme acceleration, braking and cornering.

Hooked to the engine is a TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch transmission capable of shifts in under 100 milliseconds – faster than any manual gearbox.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, Twister Orange

Other features include revised suspension geometry, a new electronic power steering unit and lighter-weight coil springs front and rear. Stopping power is provided by massive 16-5-inch two-piece rotors are added – the largest of any domestic sports coupe – plus larger, stiffer Brembo six-piston calipers.

To create the GT500, the team leveraged use of Ford’s motorsports technical center in North Carolina and its rolling wind tunnel.

“With a double front grille opening and 50-percent more cooling pack airflow versus the Shelby GT350, along with the most advanced aero components and downforce we’ve ever offered, every millimeter of Shelby GT500’s fastback design is aimed at improving performance,” said Melvin Betancourt, Ford design manager.

The GT500 comes with two handling packages. The first, includes adjustable strut top mounts and spoiler with Gurney flap. The other, a Carbon Fiber Track Package, comes with exposed 20-inch carbon fiber wheels with 0.5-inch-wider rear wheels (11.5-inch), adjustable exposed carbon fiber GT4 track wing and splitter wickers with integrated dive plane. The back seat has been deleted to reduce weight.

Power & Performance will release more information as it becomes available.

Photography and Video by Nicole Ellan James.

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