• Apr 28, 2008

2008 Shelby GT500KR – Click above for high-res image gallery

I have to admit, the Shelby GT500 was somewhat of a letdown. I have no complaints about the 500 horsepower or the muscular lines, but at nearly 4,000 pounds, it's got a serious weight problem. The iron block, 5.4-liter V8 and the addition of a supercharger puts much the weight in the worst possible place -- the front -- so the GT500 feels unmotivated around the corners compared to a regular Mustang GT. Other complaints include a suspension that doesn't seem up to snuff to handle the prodigious power, as well as a vague and rubbery shifter. Despite its shortcomings, the GT500 is one of the world's best performance bargains. Never before has such a powerful car been available for so little cash (although the Ford dealers did a pretty good job of ruining its value with markups). Still, one couldn't help but think that the GT500 could have been better.



All photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Check out First Drive: 2008 Shelby GT500KR, Part 2 by clicking here.


Enter the GT500KR. It's the next step above the standard GT500, and the first Shelby Mustang to declare itself 'King of the Road' since 1968. A quick walk-around shows the upgrades applied at the Shelby facility in Las Vegas. Carbon fiber is used in several places, including a new heat-extracting hood, the front splitter, and on the mirror covers. The 18-inch aluminum wheels look strangely small compared to the 20-inchers on the concept, but they are handsome nonetheless, wrapped with Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. Out back is a revised spoiler lip that cleverly mimics the diffuser design below, and there's also a new exhaust system developed just for the KR. Inside, it's pretty much standard GT500, except for the plaque on the dash, KR stitching in the headrests, and a new short throw shifter with a white ball knob. Under the hood, the KR gets a new open element intake system that, along with revised programming and the new exhaust system, is good for another forty horsepower. The suspension has been modified as well. The car sits lower than before and has slightly more aggressive settings. SVT engineers claim that the GT500KR will consistently maintain 1.0g of lateral acceleration. We'll have to see about that.

The keys are handed over and we're on our way. There's good news already. The new shifter that replaced the one in the standard GT500 is infinitely more satisfying. It provides clean, short shifts and moves directly into the next gear without any hesitation. That alone makes the car better to drive. Despite the firmer suspension, the KR has a pretty compliant ride and would be a suitable as a daily driver if it was asked.

After getting through some traffic lights, we head up into the mountains above Salt Lake City and start getting into some curves. Once again, we're pleasantly surprised at the changes SVT and Shelby have made. The KR feels lighter on its feet than the normal GT500, even with two additional photographers stuffed in the back seat. It feels more planted and handles tight turns with far less drama. The additional horsepower doesn't seem too noticeable, although the two extra bodies, camera and video equipment in the trunk probably offset that gain. It would probably be a different story if there were only one a driver in the car.

After forty-five minutes of driving the KR, we're left wondering why Ford didn't build the GT500 this way in the first place. Truthfully, it probably wouldn't have been that much more difficult. Yes, the carbon fiber hood probably wouldn't be a feasible production item from Ford (it's a company first), but the shifter, suspension tuning, and extra power would have been relatively simple. It's too bad these cars will be probably be going for around six-figures after dealer markups. And don't even think about building your own – Ford and Shelby have agreed that they won't produce any of the other parts except for replacements on existing KRs.

While we loved driving the KR on public roads, Ford is giving us the opportunity to test it out on the track. Tomorrow we'll be headed to Motor Millersports Park to see how the GT500KR drives on the track. Stay tuned...



All photos Copyright ©2008 Drew Phillips / Weblogs, Inc.

Check out First Drive: 2008 Shelby GT500KR, Part 2 by clicking here.

Travel and lodging for this media event was provided by the manufacturer.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 55 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I was confused at the beginning of the article and thought you were referring to the KR as opposed to the regular GT500.

      Maybe try and make the distinction a little more clear so it doesn't look like you're dissing on the KR right at the get-go.

      Looking forward to tomorrow's review. :-)
        • 6 Years Ago
        That's exactly what I thought... maybe "Enter the GT500KR." should have been before the jump.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Can it be had without the stripes and hood scoops? This car, but with the Bullitt's looks, would be killer.
      • 6 Years Ago
      $100K for a live rear axel, 1955 engine technology, a look that can be had for one third the cost and a terrible interior? Talk about limited appeal. This is a car for luddites and Viagra seeking nostalgists. A standard 'vette will probably be faster, definitely has a better interior, will almost certainly handle better and offers all of the "American Icon" appeal that is apparently so important to some people.
        • 6 Years Ago
        1955 engine tech?
        What exactly are you referring to? Overhead valves?!

        The Vette constantly gets accused of "old tech" because of its pushrods, but what's the gripe with the Stang?

        Of course what the "enthusiasts" here don't realize that chain-driven overhead cams are actually a much older technology than pushrods...

        MY gripe with this car - as a Mustang owner - is twofold:

        1. It's just not worth that kind of money. For that, I'll have a Vette, an Exige S, or SOMETHING much more exclusive. There is nothing here that justifies that price.

        2. If you ARE going to charge that much, you could at least PAINT THE DAMN STRIPES ON. Vinyl tape is LAME and only good for Calvin stickers and the like.
        • 6 Years Ago
        So long is there's just enough appeal for the limited production run, they'll be satisfied.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Everyone bitches about Ford making these cars on this site but they sell every single one and thats all that matters.

      More importantly this car here will likely be the starting point for the next Cobra much like how the Shelby GT or Bullitt will most likely be the base for the next GT. The engine in the current Mustang is essentially the same engine from the previous generation Cobra. So look for some tirckle down to the lower level Mustangs in the next generation.
      • 6 Years Ago
      i just wish Ford could make the interior just a bit less bland. And yes, i realize the midlife-crisis target audience only wants people to see the exterior but man is that a boring layout.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Very nice, makes me more envious of the jobs of the Autoblog staff.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The dodge Challeneger shoulda been engineered this well - rather than being a chopped down Charger.

        Here you have a 5.4 L v8 that gets you 500 horses vs a Challenger with a 6.1 Hemi that gets around 430. LMAO
        • 6 Years Ago
        The dodge Challeneger shoulda been engineered this well - rather than being a chopped down Charger.

        Here you have a 5.4 L v8 that gets you 500 horses vs a Challenger with a 6.1 Hemi that gets around 430. LMAO
      • 6 Years Ago
      Man, I hope the New Camaro is that heavy, nice car though.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I meant NOT that heavy
        • 6 Years Ago
        The Camaro will probably be even heavier, if you think about:
        The G8 is about four thousand pounds
        Coupes are generally no lighter than sedans; sometimes heavier due to structural requirements.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Great car, but wayyyyy too heavy, and obviously, I'd still go for a Camaro.
        Scott
        • 6 Years Ago
        That would be great if you could buy one. Perhaps one day GM will actually make a Camaro you can actually buy. And by the way, I'm betting Camaro will be as heavy or heavier.
      • 6 Years Ago
      "Tomorrow we'll be headed to Motor Millersports Park"

      Sweet! What is Millersports !?!?! Is it drinking MGD quickly while driving a motor? I think you mean Miller Motorsports Park
        • 6 Years Ago
        good catch. i kind of like the idea of millersports-- sounds like something that should be in the Xgames.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Am I the only one yawning at this car?
        • 6 Years Ago
        If your dead from the waist down.. eh hem.. then yes. If not, then nevermind.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I appreciate this cars horsepower numbers and 'retro' styling, but I'll stick with my Cobra and see what the future has in store for the Pony car. Because these 'special edition' models have gotten way outta hand price-wise. Not to mention, with so many tuners out there, you'd be hard pressed to find a stock Mustang anywhere these days. So why hand over the extra $ to begin with. Just my reckonin. Not gospel.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ah, that explains why the Ford Edge keeps up with the GT500KR in Knight Rider. I'm so buying a Ford Edge now.
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