Horse flies / The #Shelby
name returns – and makes this an extremely rapid #Ford-Mustang
indeed / Words Glen Waddington / Photography Matthew Howell / #Ford-Mustang
/ #2016 #Ford-Mustang-Shelby
John Simister has already raved about the latest #Ford
Mustang in these pages, but on both occasions he was talking about the standard car. You know, the one that leaves the Ford factory as Ford intended. Just imagine if the original had done only that. No #Shelby-GT350-MkVI
, no GT500. Less of a legend, in other words.
The Shelby name has been synonymous with power-pumpin’ Ford V8s and go-faster Fords for so long. And while the Mustang has basically been a bit crap for two or three (maybe four) decades, it has now undergone the kind of resurgence that can’t be ignored. And Shelby American Inc, even without ol’ Carroll himself in the saddle, hasn’t missed it either. The starting point is any Mustang 5.0 V8. A good car in its own right, with proper rear suspension at last (they had live axles out back until this year) and the kind of interior that won’t repulse Europeans any more. Yours, in right-hand drive no less, for about 40 grand, and sophisticated enough that you could think of it as a more distinctive alternative to a Mercedes-Benz E-class coupé, complete with a burbling V8 and six-speed #Tremec
in place of a four-banger diesel auto. But what if you want an alternative to an E63 AMG?
This car (left-hand drive but completed by Surrey-based specialist Bill Shepherd Mustang; www.billshepherdmustang.com) is not only the car to do that but also the very first of the breed. Three packages are available, the first offering the carbonfibre bodykit (bonnet, tail panel, sills etc) and billet alloy grilles plus freeflow stainless exhaust and intake, a short-throw gearshift, 20in forged alloys and matching tyres, uprated springs, dampers and anti-roll bars and altered suspension geometry, as well as various cosmetic identifiers. To that you can add Shelby Wilwood brakes (six-pot calipers up-front, and vented, cross-drilled discs) and, finally, the Shelby Power Upgrade: Ford supercharger, intercooler, intake and ECU remap – for the full yee-haw corral of 627 horses (actually 618bhp).
This car has all three, plus uprated driveshafts and a sprint diff ratio, on top of a full-house option spec that would probably cost an extra mortgage on that Merc. You can have your own built to order (with a Shelby chassis number); meanwhile, this one is offered by Bill Shepherd Mustang for £79,950. It looks quite menacing: think Black Series Merc though at ‘production’ AMG prices. Americans tend to paint over carbonfibre and it’s fair to say that the raw weave here looks exactly that, with a few wobbles in the weft and the odd sharp edge. Inside, the ambience feels suitably transatlantic, referencing the 1960s ’Stang as well as the bodywork does yet without feeling overtly retro. Only ersatz stitching on the centre console jars. All of which you’ll forget when you put your foot down. Your ears are assailed by a proper oldfashioned V8 beat, overlaid with supercharger whoosh, while you push up through the gears (a proper stick on the floor, though first is almost redundant!) with utterly indecent haste.
The shift is extremely tight and precise, the steering feels organic and quick-witted, the ride is very refined yet, depite generous dimensions, the Shelby feels well-contained and superbly poised. That new rear suspension works very well indeed, and the Shelby upgrades haven’t introduced undue harshness.
If you’re not in rodeo mood you get to enjoy hushed though still insistent forward motion. This is one car that lives up to its GT moniker – and its Shelby badging – in equal measure.
Above. New Mustang expertly references 1960s original, and Shelby upgrades make it distinctive without being distasteful. Huge power, speed and nimbleness come at no cost to refinement.