Friends, countrymen, lend me your ears. Let me tell you a story about the baddest Mustang to ever roll off the assembly line. As soon as the news hit that the 2020 Shelby GT500 would be packing a 760 horsepower Predator V8 with a TR-9070 dual clutch transmission, we just knew we’d have to get our hands on one. Well that day is upon us.
We have in our possession, a 2020 GT500 in Twister Orange – including those beautifully sculpted Recaro seats that feel like they were made out of a mold of your body. A pin-on hood, carbon wheels, aero for days – it’s certainly a looker and as racy feeling as you can get from the factory.
The GT500 sports the best of everything on the mechanical side, the Predator shares the larger displacement block design of its GT350 cousin (but with a traditional cross-plane crank). The larger bore affords heads with larger valves and the rotating assembly consists of forged components from the pistons to the crank. The engine is topped with a 2.65L Eaton TVS supercharger and relies on merely port fuel injection and twin high-flow pumps to keep up. The 7-speed dual clutch transmission is complimented by a 3.73 Torsen rearend. The suspension has larger sway bars and Magneride with huge Brembo brakes ensuring the handling is up to par.
Though the GT500 comes with some sticky 315mm Michelin Pilot Sport rubber out back, it was apparent from our first track test that this would be our greatest impediment. Without the track prep and density altitude of our east coast and Texas brethren, we’d need something stickier to get down the track in SoCal.
Baseline Testing: How’d It Do?
After a few hours commute to Irwindale Speedway (in the Shelby), the very first pass was a spinfest and a wasted run. After a few oildowns and crashes, we wouldn’t have too many more opportunities. We decided to throw a hail mary and air down the tires to 24psi. Using the automatic shifting feature in Sport mode, the GT500 managed to ease out of the hole with a 1.89 sixty-foot on its way to cross the eighth-mile marker at 7.68 at 98.94mph. On the second shift, the GT500 encountered some wheelhop that triggered torque management, which took a bit of time to ramp the timing back into the 5.2L (hindering the run).
For comparison’s sake, one of the fastest known times with a purely stock GT500 is 6.95 at 107mph (in the eighth) to give you an idea of what track prep and density altitude can do. That was also going almost two tenths faster to sixty feet. With better conditions and more time in the seat, we know we could whittle that time down. Our CEO and former NMCA champion, James Lawrence is the trusty pilot on our GT500 adventures, so there is no shortage of talent behind the wheel.
Thankfully things went much better on the Dynojet back at HQ. Using a blend of VP Racing‘s street-legal MS109 to bring our octane from the 91-octane swill available at SoCal pumps up to the 93-octane found in other parts of the country, which the engine was better suited for, the Predator sang the tune of 675 hp and 561.6 lb-ft of torque. Good grief! That’s a lot of power for a stock engine. No wonder it was so difficult to hook at the track.
What’s the Goal of the Project?
As much as we’d like to drive all over the state in search of a sticky track and cooler weather to get a better baseline, I hope you will excuse us as we soldier forward on the first round of modifications as our end-goal is not to be the fastest stock GT500 on the planet. Instead, we will be exploring this platform to see what it can do with modifications and performance that anyone can replicate at your local test and tune night.
In our quest, we’ll be employing every bolt-on part available for the GT500 – including tuning and a conversion to E85 fuel (goodbye 91-octane swill). On the next track outing, we’ll have a fresh set of Mickey Thompson tires mounted on Forgeline beadlock wheels. We’ll also add a couple more bolt-on upgrades and solve that wheelhop with some suspension parts from BMR. This is a combination capable of running 9s in the quarter-mile without ever having cracked open the cam covers.
If that sounds like something that interests you, then I suggest you stay tuned. Plenty more to come! If it doesn’t, well, maybe you should take up knitting.