Last year was quite a moment for fans of American performance cars. First, the folks at the Blue Oval unveiled the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, the new top-dog of the pony car’s lineup and the most powerful street-legal Ford yet. Then last summer, General Motors finally committed to an idea that has been floating around for over four decades, by launching the C8 Chevrolet Corvette with its small-block V8 placed behind the driver for the first time in the storied model’s history. While the Mustang and Corvette aren’t the two cars that are traditionally pitted against one another, Motor Trend contributor and professional racing driver Randy Pobst did just that at Virginia International Raceway.
Aside from being two of the most talked about cars of last year, the C8 Corvette and the Shelby GT500 both have supercar levels of performance on tap, but deliver it in very different ways. The supercharged 5.2L V8 engine under the hood of the 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 is an absolute sledgehammer of a motor, producing 760 horsepower and 625 lb-ft of torque, over 110 horsepower more than the EcoBoost V6 in the Ford GT. The Shelby used in Motor Trend’s test was further equipped for track use as well, courtesy of the $18,500(!) Carbon Fiber Track Pack.
While the Z51-equipped C8 Corvette used in the test was down quite a bit of power compared to the Mustang, making 495 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque from the 6.2L LT2 V8, it carries a smattering of track-ready hardware itself. Included in the $5,000 performance package are a set of Michelin Pilot Sport 4S ZP tires, as well as higher spring rates front and rear combined with firmer passive dampers.
Another interesting reason to compare these two American supercars comes from their price tags. The C8 Corvette carries a base price of $76,945, though the version Pobst drove around VIR was optioned up to $88,305. Despite the near $90,000 price tag, the Corvette was still cheaper than the GT500, which stickers at $94,365 as tested.
And here’s some trivia for you. While both vehicles are very different, they share one major thing in common: a Tremec dual-clutch transmission.
We’ll let Randy speak for himself about how the cars drive around the track, however we will tell what their lap times were. The C8 Corvette posted a best lap time of 2:00.96, while the Shelby GT500’s best was an impressive 1:56.30. VIR is a track known for its high speed sections and long straights, which would seem to favor the GT500’s massively powerful engine. That said, the Corvette isn’t far behind, and we haven’t even gotten the performance oriented Z06 model yet.