The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 isn’t the most powerful Mustang that Ford has ever built; it’s the most powerful Ford that Ford has ever built. It leapfrogs both the GT350R and the Ford GT in horsepower. While one of those is a six-figure two-seat supercar, the other is the GT500’s less-powerful, more-affordable sibling – the GT350. But being less powerful isn’t always a negative. Steeda, the aftermarket parts company, decided to pit the GT500 against the GT350R in a race around an autocross course to see which car would return the quickest lap. And you may be surprised by the results.
The GT500 uses a supercharged version of Ford’s 5.2-liter flat-crank-plane V8 paired to a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox. The mill makes 760 horsepower (567 kilowatts) and 625 pound-feet (847 Newton-meters) of torque. In the GT350R – and without the supercharger – the 5.2-liter V8 makes 526 horsepower (392 kilowatts) and 429 pound-feet (582 Newton-meters) of torque. It pairs with a six-speed manual gearbox.
While the GT500 makes a lot more power, it doesn’t have the same opportunity to use that power on the short, tight autocross course as it would on a larger road course. The ample amount of available horsepower also makes it a bit more unwieldy when trying to put the power down to the asphalt through stock Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires – same as the other Shelby.
The GT350R may lack power but it makes up for it by being about 300 pounds lighter than the GT500, which is enough to best the GT500 around the autocross course. The GT350R’s best lap earned the car a 49.8-second time while the GT500 took 50.3 seconds. The GT500 lost by a narrow margin. 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Debuts With GT500 Parts, New Colors with some upgraded suspension bits.
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The GT500 and GT350R may wear the same Shelby badge, but they are different cars. The GT350R makes less power for a reason, just as the GT500 makes way more. Pitting the two against one another may not be the fairest thing to do, but it highlights each trim’s differences. If you’re hitting the local race track, then check out the GT500. If you want to gnaw on some cones in an empty parking lot, then the GT350R should pique your interest.