Nov 20th 2021

Take a bigger engine, add a beefed-up suspension, and throw in a very capable chassis. Mix liberally and serve over sticky rubber. It’s a simple recipe for a performance car and one that’s as common these days as bad attempts at baking bread during the pandemic. But while the GT500 has put that recipe to good use for years in the noble cause of destroying tires, previous generations placed far too much focus on the “big power” part and less so on the suspension and chassis combo. The resulting car, while certainly fast in a straight line, never seriously threatened other performance cars when the track was anything but straight.

A few years back I made the journey out to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (as it was then called) to put the GT350R through its paces and I came off the track completely impressed. Ford had finally been able to create a Mustang that lived up to the potential the nameplate had danced around for decades. In my mind, the GT350 was the best performance car that Ford had ever built. Now Ford wants to take that platform and add more than 200 HP to it?

Approaching the car from a distance the GT500 looks like a 350 that’s been hitting the gym and maybe roid’ing it up a bit for good measure. The bulging hood, massive front grill openings, and the picnic table sized rear wing give off a far more aggressive vibe than its less powerful siblings. It’s the same look that Porsche’s GT2RS has when comparing it to other, lesser, 911s. This is a far cry from the EcoBoost Mustang you spring for at the airport when a Nissan Sentra won’t cut it.

Once you open the door, though, the interior is all Mustang. That’s not a terrible thing, as the S550 generation Mustang’s interior isn’t at all bad. It's light years ahead of the last generation. There is plenty of space for a six-foot-plus guy like myself to comfortably fit into. Even with the optional Recaro Sport Seats that are so form-fitting that the designers at Lululemon should be taking notes for their next line of yoga pants.

Now lets talk about the power, oh the power, all seven-hundred and sixty ponies come from the blown V8 with a 7,500 rpm redline and a sound that makes you think that there are literally 760 actual horses under the hood, and all of them are very, very pissed off.

All that power goes through a seven-speed, dual-clutch gearbox. The Tremec-designed automated manual transmission—it is not an automatic, there is no torque converter—is simply better in every way than any manual could hope to be. In fact, the transmission is the same basic (in function) gearbox that is found in the C8 Corvette.

From what I saw under the hood there seems to be an overabundance of cooling, so the 500 shouldn't suffer from the overheating problems that plagued the C7 Corvette Z06. That being said, I would recommend that anyone planning on taking their GT500 on track swap the OEM brake fluid with a high temp racing brake fluid as the weight of the car, combined with the speeds it is capable of, will put a huge amount of stress and heat on the brakes and fluid.

Fortunately for Ford, the GT500 bests the ZL1 in almost every metric. Although I haven’t had them both on track together (though I should put that on my post-pandemic to-do list.) I have done a very long lapping day in the ZL and while its performance makes it one of the best track day cars I’ve sampled, it still falls shy of the absolute track beast that Ford has served up.

The GT500 is such a capable car that it opens up that performance to almost every level of driver who has the wherewithal to take the wheel.