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MUSTANGDRIVER | JANUARY 2020TEXT & IMAGES | DONALD FARRThe Shelby GT brings the Shelby magic to the 2015 MustangFrom the MUSTANGDRIVER archivesIn the last years of his life, people frequently asked Carroll Shelby to name his favorite Shelby vehicle from the past 50 years. His answer was always, "The next one."Well, the next one is here. At January's Barrett-Jackson Collector Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, Shelby American revealed its post-title rendition of the 2015 Mustang GT. Continuing a name from the company's 2007-08 and 2014 offerings, the latest Shelby GT follows Carroll Shelby's formula for building Shelby Mustangs. "Carroll told me that to build a successful Shelby, take something that Ford has made, like the Mustang, and make it lighter, faster, and better looking," said Shelby American VP of Operations Akos Feher when recalling a conversation he had with Shelby before the iconic car builder passed away in 2012.
After some early debates about offering a supercharger as an option, Shelby American eventually settled on the Ford Racing TVS blower as standard equipment for the Shelby GT, taking horsepower from the factory 430 to a more Shelby-like 625, with over 700 available with an optional tune. Supercharging really makes sense because it positions the Shelby GT neatly between the Mustang GT and Ford's recently introduced GT350 with its flat-crank 5.2-liter, which generates "only" 500 or so naturally-aspirated horsepower.
With the first-time use of IRS for all Mustangs, Ford engineers brought Mustang handling and ride comfort into the modern world. As with previous Shelby GTs, Shelby American worked closely with Ford Racing to step-up the Shelby GT's handling. Ford Racings Handling Pack provides upgraded struts/shocks, lowering springs, and beefier sway bars, with an upgraded adjustable suspension offered optionally.With the first-time use of IRS for all Mustangs, Ford engineers brought Mustang handling and ride comfort into the modern world. Weld Racing created the wheels specifically for the Shelby GT. Measuring 9.5x20-inches at the front and 10.5x20 at the rear, the Venice 10-spokes are wrapped with Michelin Super Sport tires, 275/35/20 front and 305/30/20 rear. "They are top-of-the-lin" VP of Strategic Sales/Media Relations Gary Patterson told us. "We could have saved 200 bucks a tire, but that's for the guys who count beans. We're gonna make a fun car, and at the end of the day owners are going to be happy with the Michelins." The Mustang GT's already .
impressive braking capabilities are enhanced on the Shelby GT with a Wilwood front brake package, with performance rear brakes available as an option. For the exterior, Shelby American took a new approach for the 2015 Shelby GT, with unique exterior components designed and developed in-house. "Every exterior part is exclusive to Shelby," said Feher. "We're using lightweight carbon fiber for the aerodynamics, including the brand-new hood. We arrived at the track to find three fresh Shelby GTs in the pits—red and black with the standard suspension, and the sinister-looking yellow car with the optional adjustable suspension package. Components like the billet aluminum front grilles were designed to allow customization." Much of the Shelby GT's unique look comes from the carbon fiber hood with four functional NACA-style vents, two on each side of the power dome, that recall the hoods from the 1969-70 Shelbys. The front vents funnel cooler outside air into the engine compartment while the rear vents extract hot air. Carbon fiber is also used for the front splitter, rocker panels, rear deck lid, diffuser, and rear spoiler.
The lightweight panels can be left unfinished for a high-tech look, like Shelby's wicked-looking yellow prototype, or painted body color. During the Shelby GT build, Shelby American replaces the factory front grilles with modular versions made from billet aluminum. The grilles on the prototype 2015 Shelby GTs had small hexagon openings, similar to the 1965 Mustang grille, but Feher says other configurations will be offered so buyers can customize their front end look.
Likewise, the mesh in the hood vents matches the grilles. For a racier look, the mesh in the two corner pieces can be deleted or the grilles can be painted black. If you get tired of one look, you can switch to another Shelby grille without removing the fascia. Many of the pieces, including the hood vents, will be available from Shelby Performance Parts.
A week before the official unveiling at Barrett-Jackson, Shelby American invited members of the media to a special Friday evening sneak-peek at company headquarters followed by a Saturday ride-and-drive at Spring Mountain. We arrived at the track to find three fresh Shelby GTs in the pits—red and black with the standard suspension, and the sinister-looking yellow car with the optional adjustable suspension package. In preparation for our afternoon driving sessions, Shelby American wisely sent us out as passengers with test drivers Patterson and Vince LaViolette, not only to give us an idea of the track layout, but also to demonstrate what these cars can do in the hands of talented drivers. • 2015 Shelby GT Equipment •Performance Ford Racing supercharger, 627 horsepower Ford Racing by Borla exhaust with Shelby oval tips Ford Racing half-shafts Ford Racing Handling Pack with upgraded shocks, springs, and sway bars Ford Racing short-throw shifter (manual transmission) Wilwood front brake upgrade Shelby Venice wheels by Weld, 9.5x20 front and 10.5x20 rear Michelin tires, 275/35/20 front and 305/30/20 rear 3.73 gears
Exterior Carbon fiber hood wcustomizable vents Carbon fiber front splitter Carbon fiber rocker panels Carbon fiber 2-piece rear diffuser Carbon fiber rear deck lid Carbon fiber trunk spoiler Carbon fiber mirror covers Carbon fiber hood extension Modular billet aluminum upper and lower front grilles Shelby GT striping Shelby GT badging on front grille and C-pillars Shelby faux gas cap “Powered by Ford” front fender badges SHELBY lettering on trunk lid Washer relocation kitInterior Shelby branded custom headrests CSM dash plaque and engine plate Carbon fiber dash pod with three gauges Shelby GT door sill plates Shelby branded floormats
Options 700+ horsepower upgrade Painted carbon fiber Rear brake upgrade Shelby custom interior (stock and Recaro seats) Front brake cooling (carbon fiber intake, fog light relocation, air injection plate) Shelby Extreme cooling system Adjustable track suspension package Engine dress-up package Track Delivery Experience"Carroll was really about taking the compromise out of the car,"On the track, the 2015 Shelby GT is a different beast from the 2014 model it replaced. Obviously, the 2015 Mustang's independent rear suspension is a big improvement right from the start, and the combination of Handling Pack suspension and Michelin tires transforms the already great-handling Mustang GT into a Shelby track monster.
For a relatively inexperienced track driver like me, the standard suspension proved smooth, neutral, and very forgiving, especially when diving too deep and too fast into tight corners. While the yellow car with the adjustable suspension felt extremely stable as well, I didn't feel as confident behind the wheel. Basically, I don't have the driving skills to take advantage of the upgraded suspension's capabilities. It's obviously a faster car in the hands of experienced drivers like Patterson and LaViolette.
Patterson describes their yellow 2015 Shelby GT as, "The most track-competent car we've ever built." That's saying a lot, considering that Shelbys from the past decade, like the 2011-13 GT350 and short-lived SR, were no slouches on road courses. As a post-title build, Shelby GT buyers must first purchase a 2015 Mustang GT, then deliver it to Shelby American's headquarters in Las Vegas for the $39,995 conversion.
Tack that onto the sticker price of the new Mustang GT, and you're staring at $77,000 if you start with a nice Premium Package coupe. That's some $20,000 more than Ford's upcoming GT350 with its unique flat-plane 5.2-liter V-8 and other special features. On the positive side, the Shelby GT boasts 100 more horsepower and, as a post-title build from the Shelby American factory, it's touched by the Shelby magic.
"Carroll was really about taking the compromise out of the car," said Feher. "He told me that when Ford launched the Mustang in 1964, it was a collection of compromises because they had to sell the car to millions of people. Carroll said he just took it apart, got rid of the parts that were weak, added better parts in, and put it back together. And it worked." The same way the 2015 Shelby GT works today. MUSTANGDRIVER | JANUARY 2020