2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 Preview

The Snake and the Pony Become One – the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500

Designed for the Mustang enthusiast who likes to take it to the track and still be street legal.

A car making headlines at the North American International Auto Show in January of 2019 was not autonomous, electric or even remotely an SUV. It is the car that dreams have been made of for decades. A 2-door coupe, a sports car, a Ford Mustang. And not just any Mustang, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500.

With headlines like “The most powerful street-legal Ford in history” this Mustang redefines what can run on the street and on the track all the while looking and sounding like something out of a car guy’s wet dream.  Ford invited a select handful of auto journalist to Detroit in the days before the show to preview the 2020 Shelby before it was publicly revealed. More impressive was to hear first-hand from both the GT500’s designer, Melvin Betancourtand Jim Owens the Mustang Marketing Manager (video below).

There we were in front of an original 1967 pony car that Carroll Shelby took and packaged with as much power as possible, and right next to it, under drape, the latest Ford Shelby Cobra GT500. Comparing them is night and day, though the intent is the same, to make a powerful and fast car that has great looks.  The 2020 model is indeed as much of a technological wonder as the original was when it first raced the streets, back in the day.

The 2020 with 700-plus horsepower, is as much a delight to a Mustang enthusiast as the ’67 still is today. Ford was still debating the actual number of horsepower the GT500 would put out, even as the show debuted it to the public. Fast on the straight away was a given, but what takes the 2020 Shelby to the next level is the handling and MagneRideTM shock absorbers, tight into the corners, a key factor for any road course fanatic. While being able to do a quarter mile in less than eleven seconds and Zero to Sixty in 3 seconds. This is with an automatic dual-clutch transmission equipped with launch control.

Looking at the new Mustang Cobra GT500 you see the very classic Mustang lines, that tell you that this car is pure Ford, it is not until you get up close you realize the significant design tweaks, the larger grill, more muscular flanks and larger rear diffuser that large exhaust tips and the largest hood vent ever on a Mustang. Massive Brembo Brakes on all four corners. Yes, even the snake logos are bigger. While inside you get the familiar Mustang look, only beefier. In the track version there is no back seat, while you can get one in the GT350 due out later in the year.


The biggest comment that you hear about this new GT500 is how large and open the grill is. Designer for the Ford Cobra, Melvin Betancourt, shared that was necessary toaccommodate the extra intercoolers that are needed for the hand-built supercharged 5.2-liter aluminum alloy V8 engine. A block that has an inverted an Eaton 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger with air-to-liquid intercooler is tucked neatly in the V8 engine valley. Connected to a TREMEC 7-speed dual-clutch (automatic) transmission that has been calibrated by Ford Performance with state-of-the-art drive mode technologies. Yes, it is an automatic, because who can make shifts in less than a hundred milliseconds?


A segment first for Mustang, first in-class dual-clutch transmission capable of shifts in under 100 milliseconds – markedly faster than any manual gearbox. Ford Performance leveraged learnings from the tuning of its Ford GT supercar’s dual-clutch transmission. The TREMEC 7-speed automatic is designed for a number of drive modes, including normal, weather, sport, drag and track, and activates features like line-lock and launch control through selectable Track Apps.

Suspension, Wheels, Brakes, and Tires – all dialed in by Ford Performance.

To harness the power and torque of the GT500 requires active chassis technology, track-bred Michelin tires and Brembo® brakes. With a revised suspension geometry, a new electronic power steering unit and lighter-weight coil springs front and rear. Next-generation active MagneRideTM, along with the latest in advanced drive mode technologies provides highest-ever lateral acceleration from a Mustang.

Shelby GT500-specific 20×11-inch carbon fiber wheels mounted with custom Ford Performance-spec Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires and more aggressive Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires feature unique compounds and tread. Brembo six-piston calipers with custom 16-5-inch (420-millimeter) two-piece rotors provide track-ready stopping power, the largest of any domestic sports coupe, these brakes have more than 30 percent additional thermal mass in the front corners.

This exposed carbon fiber track wing is one of three rear aerodynamic designs available on the 2020 Shelby GT500. A performance decklid spoiler comes standard, while an available swing spoiler comes with the Handling Package and a carbon fiber track wing is part of the Carbon Fiber Track Package. A new rear diffuser with updated composite materials provides added aerodynamic strength.

The very first 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 brings $1.1 Mil at Barrett-Jackson. Vehicle Identification Number 001 hits the January Scottsdale Arizona auction block with the proceeds going to help JDRF the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Cure Kids with Diabetes, a leading global organization funding type 1 diabetes research, find a cure.

Two GT500 models and a GT350

The Shelby GT500 comes with a Carbon Fiber Track Package – a 2-seater all muscle sports car perfect for competition events, and a less tricked out 4-seat model more suited to the daily driver, weekend racer. Joining both this fall will be a Shelby GT350. All three are well-muscled pony cars are brought to you by the same team at Ford, that has brought us the Ford GT and Mustang GT4 racing programs.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 Walk around with Melvin Betancourt Chief Designer with Ford.

2020 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 with Jim Owens from Ford Motor Company’s Performance Division.

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