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SNAKE, CHARMER

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, May 5, 2007

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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

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