2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: No Manual, No 10-Speed, No Problem

Most people will never, ever need anything more than a basic Ford Mustang GT. The latest version is an absolute monster, with a screaming 460-horsepower, 5.0-liter V-8 engine, independent rear suspension, a well-crafted interior, top-notch technology and performance chops at both drag strips and road courses that have made it much more of a well-rounded sports car than a straight-line muscle car. The Mustang Shelby GT350 upped that ante with a bigger, more powerful engine, bigger brakes, more aggressive suspension tuning, and unique aero equipment.

Now, the big dog has arrived at the 2019 Detroit auto show: the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500, which adds a supercharger to the mix that brings “more than 700 hp” to the party.

Related: More 2019 Detroit Auto Show Coverage

Ford hasn’t said what the GT500 will crank out just yet, as the company told reporters they’re still figuring that out themselves, trying to eke out every last pony before they tell the world. What it won’t have, however, is a manual transmission.

I predict Mustang enthusiasts will be sore about two areas. First, the looks: Yes, those are the headlights from the 2015 Ford Mustang. The GT350 and GT500 aren’t getting the droopy-eyed headlight refresh that the Mustang got for 2018 — and I, for one, ain’t mad about it. The ’15 headlights are much more aggressive-looking, with an angular sharklike appearance that just works with the GT500’s much more angular, gaping maw.

And what a maw it is, a grille that looks as if it could suck in all the air in the room and leave you gasping. At the car’s introduction, seeing the GT500’s cooling system without all the bodywork is a little awe-inspiring — this thing has half a dozen radiators, cooling everything from oil to engine coolant to supercharger air. It’s no wonder they had to open up the hood to let the air out that the GT500 is sucking in — it wouldn’t have anywhere to go if they hadn’t.

21-ford-mustang-shelby-gt500-2020-cl.jpg 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 | photo by Christian Lantry

The interior is nothing we haven’t seen before on the GT350 or even the basic Mustang GT. Recaro seats are optional, and like most Recaro sport seats, they’re awful — mostly due to the lack of adjustability in the seat bottom angle. That’s an issue for drivers with shorter legs who have to operate a clutch, as it typically puts them too close to the dash for comfortable driving (an issue I had in the GT350). But this is not likely to be as much of a problem in the GT500 because of the other item that’s going to cause mass hysteria among the Mustang-loving masses: the transmission.

Ford is not offering a manual transmission in the GT500 (you can get one in the GT350 or the regular GT). Instead, it went for a Tremec seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, operated through a rotary shifter unique to the Mustang lineup (versus the conventional automatic shifter offered in other versions). But like the styling, I ain’t mad about this either — that dual-clutch automatic can bang off shifts far faster than anyone can with a stick and even more quickly than Ford’s own 10-speed automatic. This is going to make it a monster on the drag strip provided the transmission is robust enough to handle the power being sent through it. Ford says that it’s drawn upon its experience engineering the Ford GT mid-engine supercar and the Mustang GT4 racing car in building this transmission, so I have high hopes that it will be well-executed and not a poorly tuned mess like the first 10-speed automatics we sampled in early 2018. 

23-ford-mustang-shelby-gt500-2020-cl.jpg 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 | photo by Christian Lantry

Related: 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500: The Blue Oval Has a Cure for the Redeye

One thing is for sure: Ford is gunning for the 797-hp, supercharged Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye with this monster, posting up performance numbers that directly confront that crosstown coupe. We predict it will be a significantly lighter car though, so the Mustang should almost certainly have the upper hand on tracks that bend. We can’t wait to put them head-to-head as soon as the snow thaws out our favorite Midwestern tracks.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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