Few muscle cars are more famous than the Ford Mustang, and this new model, the Shelby GT500, is the most powerful version yet.
The flagship of the 2013 Mustang range, the Shelby GT500 has a supercharged 5.8-litre V8 that produces 653bhp and 631lb ft of torque.
It's not just the engine that has been upgraded, though; the suspension, brakes and aerodynamics have all been given the Shelby treatment, too.
What's the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 like to drive?
Unbelievably fast. There's no official 0-62mph time to quantify it, but as soon as you push the throttle, you're aware of the car's huge reserves of power.
Even when the rev counter needle is near the bottom of the dial, the engine feels strong. Move into the mid-range, though, and all hell breaks loose. You feel a surge of power that's truly vicious, and the ferocity doesn't falter until the rev limiter intervenes.
The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has a 653bhp V8 engine, so it's incredibly fast
Ford doesn't quote a top speed, but it says that the GT500 is capable of exceeding 200mph.
You don't have to break speed records to be intoxicated by the Shelby's raw force, though – the noise it makes is enough. It snarls angrily when you fire it up, and this is followed by a deep bass-laden bellow as the revs build. This is just how a muscle car should sound.
No top speed is quoted, but Ford says the GT500 will exceed 200mph
However, while the Shelby is capable of jaw-dropping speed, it's not so accomplished at stopping. The brakes offer plenty of feel, but when a big, heavy car such as this goes so quickly, slowing it down requires a lot of force.
That size and weight means the Shelby isn't the most nimble car you'll ever drive, either, but despite feeling huge, it actually manages to change direction fairly tidily.
There's lots of grip, but the steering is rather slow to respond
There's lots of grip and the Shelby GT500 doesn’t wallow around nearly as much as other American muscle cars we’ve driven.
The weighting of the steering helps make the car feel stable at speed, too, but it's rather slow to respond and could do with more feedback.
We don't know how forgiving the ride will be on UK roads, because our drive was confined to the smooth surfaces of the Brands Hatch race circuit.
With all the noise from that behemoth of an engine, the Shelby is never going to be the most cultured of cars, and you wouldn't want it to be. This is a raw, epic experience from start to finish, and the heavy steering, pedals and gearshift only serve to enhance it.
What's the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 like inside?
This is where the Shelby feels just like other American muscle cars.
The interior is full of hard, cheap-looking plastics, and there's hardly any flair to the dashboard. The only consolation is that it's reasonably well laid out.
You sit in supportive, height-adjustable bucket seats, while the steering wheel moves for reach and rake. However, neither item has much travel in any direction, so finding a comfortable driving position can be tricky.
You'll be even less comfortable if you're consigned to the rear seats, because of restricted head- and legroom.
The small windows also make it feel rather dark and claustrophobic in the back, and they don't do much for the driver's rear view.
Should I buy one?
You can't just stroll into your local Ford dealer and order a GT500, because it isn't sold in Europe. If you want one you’ll have to import it from the US.
Even so, you may be tempted to do exactly that when you see the price; the coupe is priced from $54,995, while the convertible starts at $59,995. That equates to around £34,500 and £37,500 respectively, which is pretty reasonable given the power you're getting.
Remember, though, that you'll have to add the cost of importing the car to your initial outlay, not to mention the time and work involved.
Running costs will be eye-watering, too. Even if you treat it gently – and let's face it, you won't – you'll get around 20mpg.
Still, if you've got a yearning for a dash of Americana in your life, the Shelby is one of the better muscle cars we've tried.
There's no denying the appeal of all that speed and noise. Just make sure you've got the deep reserves of cash you'll need to enjoy it.
What Car? says…
By Ivan Aistrop
Our reviews are based on hard data and thorough testing in the real world.
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