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A few months back we were lucky enough to roll around in a 2010 Nissan GT-R. On our way up to a pre-burnt Angeles Crest Highway for the now infamous flip-flop-gate photoshoot, yours truly began explaining to our intrepid photographer Drew Phillips just exactly how Nissan's latest and greatest is faster than a speeding Gallardo, more powerful than a F430 and able to leap tall canyon roads without breaking a sweat. And on and on and on. When I finally shut up, Drew asked me, "Would you take a GT-R over a GT500?" Whoa...
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Related GalleryReview: 2010 Nissan GT-R
Related Gallery2010 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang
I couldn't say "yes." In many ways, the new 2010 Shelby GT500 is the yang to the GT-R's yin. The Nissan represents a highly specialized, bespoke car, while the Shelby represents the proud American tradition of stuffing a bigger motor into an existing chassis. Aside from interior bits (like the start button) there are very few pieces Godzilla shares with other, lesser Nissans. Under the Shelby sits a V6 Hertz rent-a-special waiting to happen.
In terms of practicality, the Nissan can run around town in full auto mode while the Shelby has a bigger back seat (snore, on both points). Godzilla represents the future, while the GT500 is a much improved (maybe idealized?) version of the past. One has a sophisticated, hand built, super-computerized twin-turbo all-aluminum V6 hooked up to a paddle-shifted dual-clutch transmission feeding all four wheels. The other features a supercharger bolted on to an old iron truck motor driving the rear wheels via three pedals and six-speed manual. The Nissan has a sophisticated suspension system that can adjust itself a zillion times a nanosecond (or whatever) and the Shelby has a solid rear axle. However, both cars pack underrated motors that make more power than they advertise. And while the 2010 Shelby GT500 is very fast and very capable, the 2010 Nissan GTR is ludicrously fast and ridiculously capable. About twice as expensive, too.
But throwing that last bit out -- as well as resale, depreciation, reliability, practicality, insurance rates and anything else that gets in the way of this pure fantasy mental exercise -- which car would you rather have parked downstairs? Talk about a tough one. I'm going to go with 51% Shelby, 49% Nissan. But don't push it, because both of these cars are that superlatively good. You?