Welcome to Scouting Report, where we do a deep dive into possible rivals to our beloved Corvettes. Time to get to know your enemies! First up is the brand-spanking-new S550 generation Shelby GT500. First Drives for the newest Snake/Pony just came out and chances are, you will come across one at some point while you are driving your ‘Vette. Here is everything that you need to know about the new, 760 HP, monster ‘Stang.
2020 Shelby GT500 – The Good
The GM connection
As we touched on in Reverse Gear in last weekend’s Quick Shifts, vehicles in the performance category are losing a lot of what made them unique in prior generations. Here we have a pony/muscle car riding on magnetic dampers that uses the Supercharger as the Corvette ZR1 and a similar Dual-Clutch Transmission to the mid-engine C8 Corvette. We would have to be giving specs for some dream Camaro, right? No actually, that describes some of the equipment that the 2020 GT500 comes with. The good news is that all of this part-sharing keeps the current golden age of performance alive and it makes all of the cars even better, even if they lose a sliver of their individuality.
Cool Engine Names
This point is just a general observation. Other domestic manufacturers have far cooler engine names than General Motors. Dodge has the Hellcat and Demon, Ford has the Voodoo and now, with this new GT500, the Predator! With GM, you have to be in the know to understand the secret code that is LS7, LS9, LT4, or LT5, creating a barrier of entry of sorts. Everyone that hears that the GT500s engine is named Predator, will automatically know it is cool. Some background knowledge: Predator shares its displacement with the GT350 but the crankshaft is now a cross-plane configuration.
The Predator’s redline is 7,500 RPM which is all the description it needs, awesome stuff!
Carbon Fiber Wheels
This is the second Mustang variant to have this option after its brother, the GT350R became the first American vehicle with Carbon wheels in 2015. The GT500 takes it a step further with a better design and this time, the carbon is visible (the 350R’s wheels are painted). These reduce unsprung weight and reduced rotational inertia. Lower weight is always good, especially if it is less spinning weight (it aids in faster acceleration/deceleration and even improves fuel economy) but there are other benefits as well including less noise and vibration. It has bothered your author for years that the Mustang beat the Corvette to market with these; hopefully, we will see them soon on a future C8 Z model.
2020 Shelby GT500 – The Bad
Cutting straight to the chase, the GT500 carries some substantial weight and as we just touched on, weight is the enemy of speed. Ford says their new top-tier Mustang tips the scales at “about” 4,225 pounds. The heaviest Corvette, the 2019 ZR1 is listed at 3,560, a difference of 665 pounds!
When you look at other domestic performance cars you start to see how heavy even Corvettes have become since the C6 Z06 brought just 3,131 lbs. to the table in 2006. The C6 ZR1 added a supercharger (among other things) pushing its weight up to 3,373 lbs. Non-ZR1 members of the C7 family weigh in at 3,464 (Grand Sport) and 3,523 (Z06). GM is claiming 3,535 lbs. for the C8.
The Shelby’s main rival, the ZL1 1LE is more than 300 lbs. lighter at 3,837 and even GMs LT4 powered luxury sedan, the CTS V, beats the ‘Stang on the scale with its 4,142-pound curb weight.
Within the Ford hierarchy, the new GT500 is up about 350 lbs. since the 2013-14 version and it has more than 550 lbs. more cushin’ for the pushin’ than the GT350R.
Luckily for the new Shelby, Dodge is here with the Hellcat Redeye to make it feel better. The most potent Challenger that you can currently buy carries a shocking 4,450 pounds with its 797 ponies. Finally, just like when the two meet at the dragstrip, the Tesla Model S P100D sees what the Hellcat does on the scale and says “hold my beer” before coming in at just under FIVE-THOUSAND pounds (4,942!) which is nearly 200 lbs. closer in weight to an Escalade than the, previously mentioned, CTS V which the Tesla should compete with. Below is a chart featuring the all-important power to weight ratio (lower numbers are better) that makes all of this info easier to digest.
Notes: The Tesla isn’t listed as its HP number is pretty vague. Electrics are mostly listed by their torque. The P100D makes an astonishing 792 lb/ft of twist. The 2019 ZR1 could be ordered with LPO RVK, the GM performance intake which boosted power to 772 HP, 10% of ZR1s left the factory with this limited availability intake in the trunk next to the wing, waiting to be installed by the dealer, we kept the “base” numbers below.
No Manual Option
This hits close to home for Corvette fans but the 2020 GT500 is the latest performance car to lose one of its pedals in the name of lap times. Luckily for our friends who are cursed with suboptimal taste (just a joke, stay calm!), Ford has a Shelby for everyone as the GT350 and 350R are manual-only.
Price and ADMs
Price could go either way here, you are getting a lot of performance but judge for yourself. The GT500 starts at $72,900 (the ZL1 starts at $64,195 plus $7,500 for the 1LE track package) and the most desirable options are quite expensive. The Carbon Fiber Track Package that, per Motor Trend, elevates the GT500 from “what was expected” to “one of those cars that come out of nowhere every few years that leaves folks like me speechless,” will put buyers back an eyewatering $18,500, moving the price point dangerously close to $100k. The tech package is another $3k and then there is the infamous $10,000 dual painted stripe option (vinyl stripes are also available at a reasonable-ish $1,000). Ceramic brakes aren’t available.
ADMs, or Additional Dealer Markups, have affected the Corvette community a bit but they have become an unfortunate way of life for people looking to get their hands on limited production Fords. The must-have Carbon Fiber Track Package is going to be restricted to somewhere in the neighborhood of one-third of GT500 production. These CFTP allocations are called “Golden Tickets” and the Golden Ticket allocations are going for $50-100k over sticker which is completely outrageous! Base cars are also proving to be difficult to find at MSRP which is a real shame as dealerships are taking these amazing cars out of the garages of enthusiasts who would love and drive them and giving exclusive rights to wealthy collectors (we know, capitalism 101 and all of that, but the whole thing just doesn’t sit well with us).
Torque and straight-line speed
Ford’s engineers were able to extract an impressive 760 HP from just 5.2L in the Predator V8. The torque number is also high but not when compared to the Horsepower and when compared to competitors. It comes in at 625 lb./ft which is 90 fewer than a ZR1 and even 25 down to the LT4 powered Z06 and ZL1.
2019 is a crazy time; people on certain forums have shown disappointment with the GT500’s straight-line speed. 60 MPH comes in about 3.5 seconds, 100 is reached in 7 flat, and none of the reviewers were able to break the 11-second barrier in the quarter-mile but were seeing trap speeds around 130 mph. We think that might actually might be a good thing as Ford has said from the beginning that this isn’t a one-dimensional drag racer like its predecessor. Reviews have us believing that they succeeded in making a real sports car with Autoblog even saying “Bring on the C8.”
Overall Threat to the ‘Vette
Quite high, this thing seems pretty outstanding! Personally, I am in two separate drawings trying to win one. Then the question becomes, with market values set by dealer mark-ups, would I hold on to it or profit from selling it? I’d have to experience the drive first. One thing is for sure, America is at the top of its performance car game right now! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! So, Corvette Nation, what do you think? Would you make room for this beast in your garage or are people crazy for considering this when they could have America’s only ‘True’ Sports Car in its best iteration ever?
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