American muscle lives.
Legendary car builder Carroll Shelby not only took part in the development of the 2006 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500, but he also participated in the car's unveiling at the 2005 New York International Auto Show on March 23, 2005. The 2006 model was flanked on stage by two examples of one of Mr. Shelby's previous projects - the 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500.
What it is
The 2006 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 is another example of what's working with domestic car companies. Designers of the new Shelby Cobra GT500 have constructed a standout product that is obviously desireable but lacking representation in the market place. And, unlike other domestics that create and push high-powered versions of cars that already don't sell, the new Shelby Cobra GT500 is based on a vehicle that consumers want so much that they're willing to wait for it and pay sticker price or more.
Why it matters
In a time when domestic share of the automotive market continues to decline and when domestics are often forced to offer significant incentives, the success of an the home-built Mustang is extremely significant. And the fact that Ford sees benefits in devoting time and resources to create a more expensive model, the Shelby Cobra GT500, further validates the idea that Americans will buy appealing domestic cars. Lastly, both the regular Mustang and the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 show that the muscle car segment is alive and prospering.
When you can buy it
Ford plans to start producing the Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 for the 2006 model year. The Shelby Cobra GT500 made its debut at the 2005 New York International Show and shared the stage with the 2006 Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin.
How much it costs
Officials at Ford are tight-lipped on pricing for the 2006 Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500, but they do say that pricing will be in the same range as the previous Cobra, which had a starting price in the mid $30s. However, since the new model is better in most every way, we expect pricing to start at least in the high $30s. Regardless of the price, you can rest assured that rebates and special financing will not be available.
How quick it is
While Ford officials haven't discussed top-speed specs, they have released plenty of engine data that suggests the 2006 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 will be a screamer. Providing power is a supercharged 5.4-liter, 32-valve V8 with Ford GT cylinder heads. Horsepower is rated at 450 and torque registers at 450 lb.-ft. Managing all of that oomph is a six-speed manual transmission, and controlling the ride is an independent MacPherson strut front suspension and a multi-link live setup in the rear. Front and rear stabilizer bars are standard, as are 19-inch alloys wrapped in 255/45 tires. Slowing it all down are cross-drilled discs (14-inch front, 13-inch rear) with Brembo calipers.
What it does best
There's lots to like about the 2006 Ford Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500, from the styling to the Shelby racing stripes to the two-tone leather interior, but what takes the cake is the supercharged engine and SVT-tuned suspension. Gobs of power is downright dangerous without a suspension system (and brakes) that can keep it all under control, and a sophisticated, tight suspension is wasted on an underpowered vehicle. The Shelby Cobra GT500 looks to offer an admirable balance of power and control.
What we think
Building the 2006 Mustang Shelby Cobra GT500 is really a no-brainer for Ford. The 2005 Mustang has been a huge success so far, so much so that the company has had to ramp up production. And both SVT and Shelby fans are numerous and anxiously awaiting the arrival of new products. And with the only real muscle car competitor being the 400-horsepower Pontiac GTO, Ford's got plenty of room to play with their Mustang lineup, and that includes adding the Shelby Cobra GT500. As long as Ford doesn't misstate power ratings as they've done with past Cobra models, the company will likely have little trouble selling as many as they choose to build.
Photos courtesy of Erik Hanson