The 50th Anniversary Shelby Super Snake Mustang

Today's Shelby American has built its Super Snake model for some years, and through a couple iterations of Mustang now. Yet company president Gary Patterson says that the Super Snake "remains our rock star in the lineup" as a best-seller and a poster child for what the modern-day Shelby American is all about. Patterson said his customers love their cars, but "asked us for something more: better build quality and a more OEM-like design, a quicker build time, continued world-beating performance, and more attractive pricing." This is what the Shelby team has delivered for its 2017 "50th Anniversary" Snake.

What 50th Anniversary you may ask? Well, Shelby built one - truly one-of-one, and just one - Ford GT40-spec 427-powered GT500 back in 1967. That utterly unique monster got a beefed-up rear axle, trans, and experimental Goodyear Thunderbolt tires. Plus its FE big-block 427 scored aluminum heads and water pump, a forged crank, Le Mans rods and just about everything else the Le Mans-winning GT40 427s got. Some consider it the most desirable and perhaps most valuable Shelby Mustang in the world . . . and in history. Might be - it sold at auction for $1.3 million in 2013 and not likely to be for sale again anytime soon. So that's the car by which all subsequent Super Snakes were inspired.

It starts easily and runs smoothly; still with an authoritatively aggressive, yet not over-the-top exhaust voice. The engine idles like a (supercharged) Rolex, with snappy throttle response and more-than-adequate torque for an easily pull-away or aggressive launch as you wish. The clutch is firm yet butter-smooth, the shifts are snick-snick perfect, and the power is impressive; not quite as manic as the Terlingua, but big-game muscle car strong. The engine sounds marvelous and muscular, from its smooth mechanicals to the soft blower whine, to the big, chesty exhaust pipes; yet with control, and again, a decidedly OEM feel about it. The handling and ride are spot-on for an aggressive street muscle/sports car that will still be plenty at-home on track days, and you won't believe how feelsome, yet stable, the steering is. It's also the one you'll want to drive from L.A. to Boston, if for nothing but the chowder, in speed, comfort and relative quiet. The programmable ancillary gauge cluster is trick, and the uprated upholstery smacks of sporty luxury and quality.

2017 Ford Mustang GT Fastback

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