Though it hasn’t even been officially released yet, the soon-to-arrive 2013 Shelby GT500 Mustang is already making a huge buzz, thanks to Ford’s calculated roll-out of some truly spectacular specs. First, Ford announced that the new Shelby would produce 650 horsepower and have the capability of topping 200 mph. Then, after Chevrolet announced that its new über-Camaro, the 580-hp, 184-mph-top-speed ZL1, would have an MSRP of $54,995, Ford unveiled its pricing for the 2013 GT500: $54,995. Wow! What are the odds?! Something tells me that there was a lot of devious giggling in Dearborn that day.
Later, Ford issued another press release announcing that the GT500’s actual horsepower rating would be 662, not 650. Chevrolet countered a few weeks later with a press release stating that a factory-stock ZL1 is capable of breaking the 12-second barrier in the quarter mile. GM drivers pushed a ZL1 automatic to an 11.93-second run at 116 mph, and a manual-shift car to a 11.96 ET at 117. Ford hasn’t yet released quarter-mile times for the GT500. The game of engineering and PR one-upsmanship has certainly been entertaining, and the stage is set for some very interesting head-to-head shootouts once the production GT500 debuts.
I’m sure Ford arrived at that $54,995 MSRP primarily to tweak the Camaro ZL1, but here’s an interesting bit of trivia: The 2013 GT500 was not the first production Mustang to have that starting price. That honor goes to the 2000 Cobra R, a limited-production factory racecar built by Ford’s Special Vehicle Team (SVT).
Given that the two cars share a base price, we thought it would be enlightening to compare their specs side by side:
2000 Mustang SVT Cobra R: Production: 300, all red coupes. Curb weight: approx 3600 lbs. Engine: 5.4-liter 32-valve twincam V8. Horsepower: 385 @ 5700 rpm. Torque: 385 lbs-ft. @ 4500 rpm. Transmission: Tremec 6-speed manual. Average quarter-mile performance: 13.0 seconds. Quoted top speed: 170 mph.
2013 Mustang Shelby GT500: Production: TBD, but It will certainly be more than 300. Curb weight: approx. 3850 lbs. Engine: 5.8-liter supercharged twincam V8. Horsepower: 662 @ 6500 rpm. Torque: 631 lbs-ft. @ 4000 rpm. Transmission: Tremec 6-speed manual. Quarter-mile performance: TBD. Quoted top speed: 202 mph.
All things considered, the Cobra R acquits itself quite well for a 13-year-old car. It’s worth noting, however, that the R was a truly stripped race machine: no back seat, no air conditioning, no sound system, and limited sound insulation. The 2013 Shelby will continue recent Mustang tradition by being the poshest ’Stang in the corral, with a full raft of creature comforts either standard or available. For daily-driver or long road-trip duty, the new GT500 will almost certainly run circles around the Cobra R.
Still, the Cobra R will always have rarity on its side, and some might prefer its raw, bare-bones character. A scanning of eBay suggested that it’s possible to score a decent 2000 Cobra R for close to its original sticker price. And though the 2013 GT500 starts at $54,995, very few will go out the door with no options. Fully loaded, the sticker price is $66,110. The more things change, the more they stay the same.