I can only imagine, like most people, the first time I saw the Ford Mustang was in the hit Steve McQueen film Bullitt.
If I am being totally honest, I can’t remember much about the film or the storyline. Although the chase between the Mustang and the Dodge Charger through the streets of San Francisco, with it’s cool soundtrack, was pretty impressive. For anyone who hasn’t seen the film the Mustang driven by McQueen wins the battle as he manages to get the Charger to crash into a petrol station. After watching the film I am sure the Mustang gained quite a few new fans and the car no doubt found its way on young boys’ bedroom walls.
When I was contacted by Benfield Ford to drive this car I simply said yes and can I come over right now?
I drove the new Shelby Mustang, which looks absolutely amazing. The Shelby version of the Mustang has always been the more driver-focused car of the range. Caroll Shelby was a fantastic racing driver; when he retired from the sport he bought the licence to bring AC Cobras to the States. He then started working with Ford and with his knowledge the company went on to enter Le Mans and with his help they were very successful indeed.
Getting back to the car and with the styling tweaks it looks like a real mean machine. Anyone seeing this beast in their rear view mirror would move over straight away as it looks so imposing and intimidating. The car is powered by a 5.2lt V8 engine, which produces 526bhp, and the car’s top speed is 175mph. It also gets to 62mph in four seconds. Pressing the red starter button brings this beast of an engine to life; it even manages to make the Jaguar F Type R’s engine sound really restrained and quiet.
The car’s redline is at 8250rpm, but the most fun has to be had from 6000rpm right up to the redline. The V8 engine really comes alive and develops massive power. The noise becomes so addictive you really can’t but help putting your foot down.
Ford claim the Shelby Mustang is quicker round the track than the Porsche 911 GT3 and to my mind that’s a feat in itself. Despite being over 250kg heavier than the Porsche, the Shelby’s engines pure grunt must help.
The car has been fitted with massive Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tyres, huge Bembo brakes and lightweight carbon fibre wheels.
Having been fortunate enough to have driven the GT3, it has to be said these cars are polar opposites. The Porsche rewards the driver with excellent feedback and its chassis is so composed. On the other hand, the Shelby begs for abuse and it really thrives on aggressive driving style.
The cars electric power steering is very precise, but it doesn’t communicate as well as its main competitors.
The cars extra weight and dimensions make this car quite hard to navigate – especially in tight spaces. Put this car on a track and it really comes alive; the steering wheel has 20 buttons. In track mode, the throttle responses become lightening quick, the exhaust opens up and it really sounds like an orchestra playing at full pelt.
The cars Recaro seats are very supportive and comfortable and, as with most American cars, the interior is very cheap-looking indeed. The cars switchgear and dash look like they have been made from recycled BIC pens!
Despite Ford firmly aiming the Mustang at the GT3, it really isn’t better round the track than the Porsche.
The Shelby isn’t actually coming to the UK, but Ford have been really encouraged by sales of the Mustang. A limited run of right hand drive may be made for Europe, although they will no doubt be very expensive compared to the left hand drive cars in the States. The car is about a third of the price of a GT3!
One area where potential owners need to be aware is the car’s appalling fuel consumption – the Lamborghini Huracan, believe it or not, is more economical than the Mustang. You need to live in a country where petrol is cheap, as once you put your foot down the noise is so addictive and therefore fuel consumption figures just plummet.
After driving the Shelby, the engine wins you over, despite it not being as well designed or as well engineered as the GT3. Its raw charm, macho looks and, more importantly, its price make this car a real winner. I am sure Steve McQueen would have loved to have driven this car around the streets of San Francisco; no doubt he would have beaten the Charger once again!