The Ford Mustang is arguably the most iconic American car. Since its inception back in the ’60s, it’s been a hot toy for many people; these things are almost everywhere, and it’s hard to go a day in the US without seeing at least one, unless you live in the middle of nowhere.
Shelby has been playing with the Mustang since the beginning, and its new take on the S550 is another special machine.
Earlier in 2016, Shelby lent Larry and I three Super Snake variants to roll around Las Vegas in. The S550 Super Snake is Shelby’s first Super Snake offered with an automatic transmission, and this is the car that I drove first.
Shelby has called many cities its home in the past half century, but since 1998 it’s been based in Vegas.
For the benefit of those who haven’t visited Shelby American HQ, I figured I’d include some pictures of the facility so you can get a general idea of what it looks like inside.
Upon entering, you’ll find yourself inside the gift shop which has everything you’d ever want to own with a Shelby logo on it. To the right is the showroom which always has a few cars on display.
Out back is the huge shop where all the work is done. It’s amazing how big this place is, but really needs to be in order for Shelby to keep up with the high demand for its cars.
It’s fully stocked with parts and Shelby’s staff are able to do pretty much anything required, from paint, to conversions, to repairs and more.
It wouldn’t be Shelby American without a few cool machines parked throughout the shop, though.
This original and pristine Shelby Mustang GT-H was probably my favorite looking car there. The ‘H’ stands for Hertz, as these cars were offered for hire exclusively through Hertz Rental Cars back in the day. The GT-H legend lives on too, and you can head into selected US Hertz outlets and rent the new S550 GT-H right now if you want.
These two cars were the ones Larry and I drove the next day, and are also the ones Mike wrote about.In Style
Up until this point I had never driven a Mustang, so to get a good feel for this particular car I took the Snake south, and exited the freeway near Jean and Sloan. The roads here aren’t the smoothest, but they’re all but deserted.
Initially when on the freeway heading to the location, I was wishing that I was behind the wheel of the red 6-speed manual Super Snake, but after some spirited driving through the desolate roads near Jean, I started liking the feel of the car.
It almost had a nice visceral feel to it when upshifting. With some newer automatic vehicles there’s that annoying lag in throttle input, but this one didn’t have it at all.
With the help of the Whipple supercharger, the car’s Coyote V8 pushes out an astounding 750hp. Seven hundred and fifty horsepower!
That’s Shelby’s claim by the way, other companies that have dynoed this thing are getting near the 800 horsepower mark.
The subtly of this car definitely adds to its unique factor. For the unassuming, it looks like a slightly modified Mustang, but for those who know, it’s something special.
The interior is actually quite comfortable for a sportscar with 750hp, and it makes sense too. I see more of these things than any other car when I’m driving around on road trips during the summer months in the US (Subaru exempt). It doesn’t seem like the best road trip car, but the numbers don’t lie -people love this car.
It might also be because of the car’s insanely good looks.
The demand for an automatic version of the Snake was never present for the previous models, but these days more people are looking for a Mustang that can be used in everyday bumper-to-bumper Los Angeles traffic, and then give a Z06 a run for its money.
And that’s exactly what this car can do.
I’m interested to hear what guys think about Shelby’s take on this automatic version of an everyday sports car.
Additional Photos by Larry Chen
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What are the upgrades on this model regarding brakes, suspension and stiffness to keep up with that much power?
Awesome looking car by the way.
@Afonsoae82gt What car are you talking about?
I always wonder what happens with all the original ford parts that are striped out from the Mustang and are replaced for Shelby parts. Does it get back to Ford?
Thrown down a well I assume? Lol nah that is an interesting question though. I bet Larry or Louis can get the answer for us
Shelby's aren't nearly as special as they used to be. It's just a Whipple'd GT with some body work now.
@TylerHorne how is that any different from the originals? They were mostly just messaged factory parts and a different grill or Cougar tail light panel. Add some stripe and stamp Shelby on it and "viola!" a "special Shelby GT350 or 500 or 500KR!s
It was the Cobra and GT40 programs that made Shelby special. The Mustangs just got the trickle down and kept/keep the doors open.
@dadecode @TylerHorne Why talk like an expert on something you have no idea on... Classic Shelby mustangs had a lot more to them than stripes and "massaged factory parts." Unless by massaging you mean a complete and total rework of most suspension components, entirely new engines and extensive custom body work.
@Evan Vukets @dadecode @TylerHorne You are correct Evan! Shelby also installs: new tranny, driveshaft, rear end, axles, complete exhaust, brakes, wheels, tires, dash with gauges, seats, custom interior, steering wheel, and pedals. With exception of the windows, doors, and radio, not much else is left to "massage"!
I hope Shelby American can get past its problem with focusing on power output and half the time making the car slower. In spite of the slushbox, that's a pretty nice ride though.
An automatic? Seriously?
All that power...and it's automatic, smh.
Overall, amazing machine and glad it wasn't tainted with ari-ride.
"An automatic? Seriously?
All that power...and it's automatic, smh."
I don't think you get the wrongness of what you just said...
Man doesn't know what bracket racing is and how many drag guys prefer an auto. I hope everyone also gets that 98% of people under 55 cannot afford one of these cars, old men like automatics
Would love to know what Shelby did to beef of the transmission to handle the nearly doubled power.
@370 Hemi The stock auto is a 6R80, a variant of the ZF 6HP transmission build under license by Ford.
6R80 literally means 6 speed, rear wheel drive, (up to) 800nm of torque.
So the stock tranny can probably handle the supercharged engine fine as long as it isn't abused. I believe they do some work to the transmission cooler and the shift map to make sure it isn't worked too hard.
It's a ford transmission, never really had trouble with them. This isn't a Chevrolet or mopar product
Odd that people were clamoring for automatic Shelby cars. I can't imagine wanting a 750hp car and the fact that it doesn't come in auto being a deal breaker.
Car looks good, probably sounds good too. A bit more about the driving experience would have been good like others mentioned.
@DaveT all a manual would do is guarantee slower performance, and a greater likelihood of it ending up in a ditch.
Look, I love manuals, frankly I'm probably more of a manual extremist. But the reality is, the higher the power and performance envelope of the car, the better a auto is at harnessing and exploiting that power. And nowadays, there is really nothing a manual is better at short of burning tires, and guaranteeing you will loose just about every contest of speed short of drifting.
@dadecode Fair enough, to be honest I've never driven a car much over 300 so I probably have no idea what it's like to have that much under my right foot. It's just sad to see manuals becoming fewer and few *curmudgeon hat on*
Also we both know one will end up in the ditch transmission or not :)
This is the first article of the new year? Automatic Shelby?
I would never get this car with an auto but then again if a person didn't take the time to build a 750hp car why would they take the time to shift the transmission? I would never use a car that's this expensive and special as my daily either. If you want an automatic for your daily then buy a GT.
Dude, shit comes in manual. Automatic trans is just for the majority of people who can afford this thing, men over 45-50.
@doktor_b It's a torque converter auto.
Ford doesn't make any good DCT transmissions. Look up focus/fiesta auto problems.
@doktor_b ummm, you do know DCTs are obsolete right? the knew torque converter autos are putting the DCT "automatically actuated" manuals to shame now. Nevermind the better fuel economy, and better day to day drivability. Keep up.
IDK Larry, I would have been interested to hear what *you* think about Shelby’s take on this automatic version of an everyday sports car. You're the one that's driven it...
@modell3000 Louis wrote the article. Larry provided some extra photos.
but you make a good point. i'd also like to hear some input from the person who actually drove it.
We both drove the piss out of the automatic and manual versions. The link to the manual write up is also in the article.
This Mustang has pretty much the most power you can have on the street. The automatic is probably faster than the manual, but in terms of driving feeling I would always take the manual. The nice thing about the auto was how well the traction control worked. Pretty much all the way to 3rd gear it limited the amount of slip from a stand still.
This is the most powerful automatic transmission car that Shelby has ever built. Just to give you an idea of how much power this has, In the manual version on the 15fwy going through Las Vegas I could get the rear tires to spin starting out in 4th gear at about a 60mph roll. It was scary for sure. I am talking about just cruising along in 4th gear and having to counter steer on the freeway.