The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR Returns


Shelby American is bringing back the GT500KR as an ultra-rare alternative to an already specialized variant of the Ford Mustang. So rare, in fact, that the odds of you actually obtaining one border on nonexistent.

Ford debuted the original in 1968 to capitalize on Carol Shelby’s winning streak with the Mustang and the “King of the Road” KR designation returned in 2008 while the retro renaissance was in full swing. Both were sold in limited numbers, with the new model being no different. Designed under the premise that Shelby could build one hell of an automobile for roughly $5,000 in 1968 ($40,000 today), the first GT500KR boasted a modified 428-ci (7.0-liter) Cobra Jet V8 engine and plenty of exterior accouterments helping to boost both performance and presence. Underrated at 355 horsepower, Shelby’s time with the Ford parts bin actually yielded a powertrain estimated to be in excess of 400 bhp with 440 pound-feet of torque. 

While the 2008 edition offered a meaty 540 hp, its $79,995 MSRP was nearly 10 grand more than Chevrolet was asking for a Corvette Z06 at the time. But the car was featured as the new K.I.T.T. in the revived Knight Rider franchise, resulting in some light dunking on General Motors.

The 2021 model will cost $127,895 if you buy one outright. However, 2020-2022 GT500 owners can have their Mustang modified for $55,000, which probably isn’t bad if you occupy the income bracket of people who might actually consider buying one. Besides, the resulting automobile will yield a whopping 900 horsepower and comes with all the necessary embellishments to let the neighbors know that you spent six figures on a car starting at $27,205. Though, if history is anything to go by, we’re anticipating the King of the Road to hold its resale value far better than any EcoBoosted Fastback.

To create the KR, Shelby equips the GT500 with a carbon-fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, and a hood that looks ready to vent more hot air than a politician. Upgraded tires will be wrapped around 6061-T6 forged aluminum wheels (20 x 11.0″ front and 20 x 11.5″ rear) in either gloss black or natural polish. Customers also get hood pins, reupholstered seats, special badging, and the obligatory Shelby striping down the rocker panels to ensure the car looks the part.

However, the real star of the show is the 5.2-liter V8 that’s getting some additional wrench time. While the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 already dumps 760 horsepower wherever you decide to transform rubber into smoke, the KR makes can make up to 900 hp using 93-octane gasoline. This is thanks to a larger, 3.8-liter twin-screw supercharger aided by a high-volume intercooler. To keep it from accidentally leaving the road, Shelby has likewise opted to recalibrate the factory suspension while adding some of its own springs and front and rear sway bars from Ford Performance.

Customers have the option of adding a Shelby widebody kit, which seems like a no-brainer. A rear-seat delete is similarly available, along with the optional harness bar, and there are some dress-up options — like unique striping and going with polished internals. Frankly, you can probably negotiate just about anything else you wanted onto the car since this is essentially a custom build with factory approval. But we don’t want to imagine what the final price is going to be if you tried to shoot the moon with extras.

Of course, none of this really matters since you won’t be able to buy one. Shelby only plans on making 180 2020-2022 GT500KRs for U.S. customers, or 60 cars per model year to celebrate Shelby American’s 60th anniversary. Though an additional 45 are to be reserved for drivers living in other parts of the world and we’re not inclined to assume that the 180 limit for North America will stick. While the King of the Road has always been sold in extremely low volumes, Shelby sold over 1,500 of the original and the 2008 model year went from being limited to 1,000 units to 1,712 due to elevated demand. Something tells us 180 cars just won’t be enough to satisfy demand.

That’s not a recommendation to wait around and see, however. If you want one, you had better be the first person to place an order when the books open on February 1st at 9 AM PST and have contacted the Shelby sales team in advance.

[Images: Shelby American]

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