Adaptive shock absorbers keep the car from squatting back on its rear wheels even with the accelerator floored. The ride is surprisingly smooth.
Ford specified 20-inch wheels to make room for massive 16.53-inch front brake discs that deliver 25% more heat dissipation than the GT350's brakes. Improved heat dissipation means the brakes continue to work longer under sudden extreme stops and deceleration from high speeds.
How high? The carbon fiber aerodynamics package produces a maximum of 550 pounds of downforce to keep the GT500 from leaving the ground -- at 180 mph.
The thick steering wheel wrapped in suede-like Alcantara sets you up for success when the white line is at 12 o'clock to let you know when wheels are aimed dead ahead, an important consideration when you could be drag-racing at wide-open throttle from a standstill.
That same steering wheel connects to a rack that's unique to the GT500, with extra large electric motors to turn the big, sticky tires. Response is quick, but not nervous, just what you want driving around the technical street course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Advanced controls help novices master drag racing, which requires a lot more skill than those who haven't done it expect. You can dial in launch control and heat the tires with electronically controlled burnouts for maximum traction. I hit 111 mph in a quarter-mile run, despite accidentally short-shifting with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifter.
The high-bolstered optional two-tone Recaro front sport seats look great, but I found the seat-bottom bolsters so high that I continually bumped my head getting in and out of the Shelby.
The rest of the interior is comfortable and easy to use, with a combination of dials, buttons, voice recognition and touch screen.
$21,495 gets you lots of options
The Shelby GT500 I drove had $21,495 in options, mostly the $18,500 carbon fiber track pack that includes 20-inch exposed carbon fiber wheels, assorted other carbon fiber pieces and leather trimmed Recaro seats. Its total price of $91,795 also included a $2,600 gas guzzler tax.