SNAKE, CHARMER

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SNAKE, CHARMER

By Reed Berry

Knock-knock.

Who's there?

My neighbor.

Sure, this has the makings of a knock-knock joke, but it is actually a true
story. A neighbor has come to my front door asking for an up-close look at the
car I'm driving for this review. Upon reminding him that I've road tested
impressive cars ranging from Jaguars to Bentleys, his response is “Yeah, but
this is the coolest car you've had so far”.

Well, I guess cool is one way to describe the Ford Shelby GT500, although the
words bold, powerful, and exciting also come immediately to mind. This car bears
the name of racing legend Carroll Shelby so, of course, it has the power one
expects and certainly does not disappoint. Even more impressive than the car's
performance is the fact that the price, depending on how you have the vehicle
equipped, is in the low to mid 40's.

On the outside, the GT500 has a fresh, contemporary look with smooth lines and
an aerodynamic appearance, highlighted by a forward-leaning egg crate grill in
the front and a rear spoiler that is both unique and stylish. Just like the
original GT500 introduced in 1967, the '07 version has Le Mans racing stripes
that run the length of the car from front to back as well as side stripes on the
lower body. Heat extractors in the hood are not only functional, but also add to
the car's great looks.

Just to make your sporty GT500 even sportier, there are a variety of paint and
stripe color combinations available. Maybe Torch Red with Performance White
stripes is to your liking (as displayed here, a favorite). Or perhaps Grabber
Orange with Tungsten Grey stripes is more your style. Interestingly, if you
prefer Vista Blue racing stripes, they can only be paired with a Performance
White GT500. A good decision by Ford, in my opinion, because a white Mustang
with blue racing stripes creates a striking color combination that gives the car
a classic look.

The interior of the GT500 is designed for serious driving. Sliding into the
leather sports seat, I notice that the gauges are easily readable and all
controls are conveniently placed. A clear view of the tachometer is quite
helpful for precise shifting, as this vehicle is available only with a manual
transmission. This test vehicle has the available Performance Interior Trim
Package that includes a leather-wrapped and stitched dash panel brow and center
console.

As I start the car, I am reminded what driving a performance vehicle is all
about. The confident roar of a powerful engine is followed by a gentle hum as
the car awaits my next command. Shifting into first gear and pulling away from
the curb makes me fully aware of what's under the hood. A supercharged 500
horsepower, intercooled 5.4-liter DOHC V-8 engine makes this the most powerful
factory-built Mustang to date. And, since a performance car must be matched with
a heavy-duty gearbox, the GT500 features a TREMEC 6-speed manual transmission.

Stability and handling are equally impressive, thanks to a performance-tuned
suspension and stabilizer bars. For improved handling and acceleration, not to
mention giving the car added eye appeal, the tires on the back of the car are
slightly larger than those on the front. Braking is quick and efficient with
Brembo 14-inch vented discs.

Safety features on the GT500 include driver and front passenger side impact air
bags, all-speed traction control, and an anti-lock braking system. I
particularly appreciate the fact that the torsional rigidity of the body
structure has increased by 31 percent over previous generation Mustang hard
tops. This increase in stiffness makes the vehicle more controllable in
emergency maneuvers, not to mention the obvious benefits in crash protection.

This car is definitely designed to perform, but it is also loaded with
convenience features. Power windows and door locks are standard, and if you're
ready for some entertainment, crank the volume on the Shaker 500 audio system. A
high performance car calls for a high performance sound system, so I suggest
spending the extra money to get the optional Shaker 1000 sound system with ten
speakers, two of them being subwoofers. Both sound systems come with an in-dash
six-disc CD changer.

Apparently Carroll Shelby and Ford's SVT (Special Vehicle Team) have created a
performance vehicle that is not only fun to drive but, as I found out, may also
make you more popular with your neighbors.

SIDEBAR COMMENT

The Shelby GT500's ability to attract attention extends to its convertible model
as well (a $4,825 option). Stuck in traffic in front of a high school, heads
turn in the direction of the Shelby. Evidently, the teens know this car well. Up
at a stoplight, some pre-teens cross the street and comment, “nice car!” That's
one advantage of the convertible: If you have the top down, strangers will talk
to you. Of course, the older baby boomers have a kinship to the Shelby, bringing
back memories of the original GT500 from the 1960s. While the new one is far
more modern, it's still old school. The live axle in back makes for great power
delivery if you’re a drag racer or the town's drifting king (kids, don't try
that at home), but it's not the most refined way of driving on the potholed
streets of Los Angeles. Still, no one buys this car for its refinement. They buy
it for its Shelby heritage, Shelby styling, 500 horses, great sound, and the
smile it puts on everyone's faces – drivers, passengers, and, yes, neighbors. -
Roy Nakano

SUMMARY JUDGMENT

It's the ultimate gearhead magnet and conversation piece – a multi-generational
ice-breaker on wheels.

For more information on Ford products, go to www.fordvehicles.com.

SPECIFICATIONS

Name of vehicle:
2007 Ford Shelby GT500

Base price: $40,930

Engine type:
5.4-liter, DOHC, 32-valve V8

EPA mileage estimates (city/highway):
15/21

Horsepower:
500 @ 6,000 rpm

Torque:
480 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm

Drive configuration:
Rear-wheel drive with Traction Control

Transmission type:
Six-speed manual transmission

Steering:
Power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering

Suspension:
Front: MacPherson strut; tubular stabilizer bar
Rear: Solid axle with coil springs; solid stabilizer bar

Wheels and tires:
Wheels:
18″ Aluminum Alloy Wheels
Tires:
P255/45ZR18 Front; P285/40ZR18 Rear

Brakes:
Brembo ventilated disc brakes with ABS

Overall length:
188.0

Overall width:
73.9

Overall height:
54.5 inches

Wheelbase:
107.1 inches

Curb weight (lbs.):
3,920

0-60 mph:
4.6 seconds

One Response to “SNAKE, CHARMER”

  1. george Says:

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