Those who remember the early aughts will recall a bit of controversy in the automotive world surrounding Ford and Chevrolet. It started with the 1999 SVT Mustang Cobra, which received a revised 320-horsepower DOHC V8 to better compete with the Camaro SS. Except it didn’t get all those advertised ponies – trouble with the intake manifold saw real-world numbers below Ford’s claim, and the company had egg on its face to the point where it skipped the 2000 model year (save for the Cobra R) to fix the issue for 2001.
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Then in 2003, Ford went the opposite direction by supercharging the Cobra to 390 hp, though this time it was actually underrated by a fair amount. The goal was to completely bash the Camaro but alas, GM pulled the plug on Mustang’s long-time competitor the year prior. As such, Mustang was pitted against the C5 Corvette, and not just the average model. The track-focused Z06 at that time made 405 hp and actually, the supercharged SVT Cobra with independent rear suspension fared surprisingly well against the ‘Vette.
Why all this exposition? Because Corvette-versus-Mustang comparisons are resurfacing now that a new supercharged Mustang with Cobra badges and an independent suspension has finally returned. Motor Trend is the first outlet we’ve seen to take a deep dive on a GT500-versus-C8 matchup, and it seems the word is whoa. Yes, the new GT500 does have legitimate skill in the corners, which is something we’ve also experienced directly in our GT500 first drive. That holds especially true for cars fitted with the carbon fiber track package, and according to Motor Trend, it’s enough to not just hang with a new Z51-equipped C8 at Virginia International Raceway, but to trounce it. In Motor Trend’s words, “the Shelby is long gone in a blaze of glory.”
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Of course, there’s a major caveat here. Back in the day, the Mustang-Corvette war involved the ultimate evolutions of both models – the Z06 and SVT Cobra. This time around it’s a maxed-out Mustang with 760 hp against Chevrolet’s entry-level C8 Stingray with just 495 hp. We suspect more than a few readers will call that an unfair fight, and we're also not given any specific lap times to quantify just how big an advantage the Shelby holds.
What will happen when the new Z06 hits the street with suspension tweaks from the C8.R, not to mention its ungodly-sounding DOHC flat-plane-crank V8? And the Z06 won’t even be the C8’s swan song, but now we’re admittedly dipping a bit far into the future.
Bottom line? There’s no denying the new GT500 is far removed from its straight-line muscle car roots, especially when equipped with the optional track package. And for now, it sure looks like the evolved pony car is superior to the mid-engined Corvette in the performance world, drag strip or road course.
We’ll be sampling this soon enough when we slip behind the Stingray’s wheel for our Corvette first-drive review, coming soon.