The cars we loved.
There seems to be no shortage of special edition Mustangs. Although the restyled car has been on the market for little more than a year, there are already a growing number of stylistic variations (try the Mustang customizer on Ford’s website). Every few years some new edition comes out, usually with V8 power and custom bodywork. Such constant morphing means that there’s a Stang for nearly every taste and budget. Of the tuner options available, Shelby seems to be in tightest with Ford, offering step up performance at a steep price.
Besides offering its own complete models of the Mustang, Shelby Automotive is no stranger to customizing stock Mustangs via their huge performance parts portfolio. Usually focused on V8 cars, Shelby has taken the unprecedented step of producing a V6 based special edition Mustang called the GTS. It would be a first for Shelby as a widely available V6 sourced car. Never mind the Terlingua race car from a few years ago or the Cam-Am racer from even further back, the GTS is a intended to be a Shelby for these troubled economic times, to be driven to the track or to Target. For purists, a V8 version of the GTS is also available.
It wouldn’t be the first time Shelby focused on smaller engines. During the 80’s Shelby was so busy tuning Chrysler products with turbo charged four cylinder engines, that it seemed to abandon it’s association with V8s completly. Since that time no smaller engines have been the basis for any of their mainstream products… until now. The Shelby GTS is the latest member of the Shelby family and is essentially an appearance package for the base Mustang. It is easily one of the most attractive Mustangs to date with an almost reserved look of high performance. The Shelby GTS can be had in multiple stages, costing as much and with nearly as much horsepower as a GT500 if maxed out with every performance option. The very point of the Shelby GTS was to cater to an increasingly growing budget minded performance sector, so most will probally be ordered on the lean side of the options list. The thinking seems to have been that Ford/Shelby fans who have always admired powerful Cobras and Mustangs, but could never afford them, now have a chance to have a genuine Shelby car for not much more than a base Mustang GT.
For anything more than a custom looker, the cost of the GTS can quickly add up. On top of the $25k or so dollars needed to get a base V6 Mustang, another $10k is needed to get the base GTS package. That money buys a unique front fascia, uprated brakes, Borla exhaust and a Shelby handling package. Of course there are plenty of Shelby badges and plaques to authenticate the GTS as a genuine Shelby product. One of those badges, a numbered commemorative plaque on the dash is one of the only items that distinguish the GTS inside. The rest of the interior looks pretty much like the base V6 Mustang, unless of course you opt for further options (which is mostly performance oriented or added stripes and a rear spoiler outside). With well over $30k invested, the GTS Mustang buyer has a car that can hang with any stock GT on a curvy road, even though it will still have the 305 hp of the base V6 Mustang.
For those who want to go all out with performance options, an even higher level of tuned sports suspension, 19′ wheels and a supercharger is available. With all the performance options checked, the V6 can reach 475hp, about 75 shy of the GT500 and 63 more than the GT. That level of performance will cost you over $50k and will get you somewhere between Mustang GT and GT500 performance. Skid pad figures for a fully optioned GTS can approach 1.01g, that’s GT500 territory. As for raw get up and go, the 4.4 second 0 to 60 times is closer to Mustang GT territory (4.3 seconds).
Despite its attractive GTS 350/500 custom looks and Shelby heritage, the GTS does not represent much of a value or performance upgrade in its base form over the already impressive V6 Mustang. Die hard Shelbyphiles might think otherwise, but most buyers would be better off with Ford’s own Mayhem package for the V6. Soon to be available on 2012 models, It offers choice GT and Cobra parts for improved handling. It would likely get lost in the crowd of V6 Mustang if it weren’t for the special striping and wheels. Even with its standard V6 engine, it promises to offer nearly as much fun in the curves as the GTS from Shelby.
The Shelby GTS’ biggest strength is its looks. As one of the best looking Mustangs you can buy, it will no doubt attract attention for that fact alone. The collectability of a V6 Shelby road car will have its own appeal, but the GTS remains a difficult proposition and somewhat counter to the whole reasoning for making a lower priced Shelby car to start with due to the likelyhood that these cars will be victims to added markup from your local greedy Ford dealer.