Carroll Shelby only put his name on Ford Mustangs that were the fastest, strongest and most aggressive on the production line. That was-and is-what the Shelby name is all about. That's the beauty of the Mustang when it first came into existence: Owners could choose the trim levels and spec their cars out. But the most important thing was the choice of engines that you could stuff under the hood. And if you knew your Mustangs, the Shelby versions were the ones to have back in the day.
Things haven't changed much since then. Of course, any car addict would know that Eleanor of Gone In 60 Seconds fame is, in fact, a Shelby GT500. We can go on and on about Shelby and his significance in the automotive world, but for now let's just stick to the modern GT500 that Top Gear got its hands on. It made us drool.
Seeing a Mustang of this caliber up close is an event in itself, and I must say this car looks great in red-with the unmistakable Le Mans stripes. Pictures cannot do this car justice. Its heft and lines evoke a time that we thought was long gone, but after numerous incarnations, the original shape is finally back. The styling has at last come full circle, and the Mustang badge is better for it. There will only be more fans (and buyers) because of this. Adding to the mystique is the resurrection of some of the most popular Mustang models from the past (at least in name), and the Shelby GT500 you see on these pages harks back to that time.
People notice the car not only for its sheer size, but also because it has the same silhouette as the original Mustang. Even the younger people who weren't born until after the '60s know what this car is. And the sound that emanates from under its hood is enough to make a whole building shake. Well, at least that's what happened in the Summit Media studios where this shoot took place. When owner Carlos Gono fired up the supercharged engine, everybody just stopped what they were doing to see where that glorious racket was coming from.
It is safe to say that the Shelby moniker lives up to its promise of balls-to-the-wall acceleration and performance with an old-school edge. The numbers are astounding, even in stock form. Upon its delivery from the US, Carlos-the friendly car buff behind Autoplus-immediately put his brand-spanking-new GT500 on his shop's dynamometer to set the bar for any performance upgrades that were to follow. It generated 440 horsepower at the wheels. But that obviously wasn't enough for someone known for his pioneering efforts in the high-performance tuning scene. For those who don't know, Carlos also owns a Ford GT in the same color. Apparently, the man has a taste for American muscle.
Autoplus was founded in the '70s by Gono's uncle who was based in San Francisco. They opened a shop here in 1996 because nobody was doing any high-performance tuning back then. Parts were shipped from the US, and in 2000, when performance tuning became ‘in', Carlos bought the dynamometer. "Performance has to be there," he reasoned. "It isn't like a set of wheels that everyone can see kung maganda o hindi. But when selling performance, everything has to be there."