No matter how you spec the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500, it’s a formidable performance vehicle in a straight line and around the track. With an enhanced chassis, upgraded aerodynamics, improved brakes, suspension and tires, and of course, a 760 hp supercharged Predator V8 under the hood, it’s the most capable Mustang ever. But at $18,000, the Carbon Fiber Track Package must make the GT500 faster in every way, right? According to Car and Driver’s recent performance testing, a Carbon Track Pack equipped Shelby GT500 is actually slower than the standard model, in a straight line at least. And interestingly, this didn’t come as a surprise to Ford.
The Carbon Fiber Track Pack gives the S550 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 a massive carbon rear wing, carbon wheels, front splitter wickets, removes the rear seats for weight savings, and adds super sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 R compound track day tires. The standard car runs on Michelin Pilot Sport 4S street tires. Those tires are the key to why the more expensive, Track Pack equipped car put up faster straight line speed times. Here’s the data, from Car and Driver:
Standard Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Tire: Michelin Pilot Sport 4S
0–30 mph: 1.6 sec
0–60 mph: 3.4 sec
0–100 mph: 6.9 sec
¼-mile: 11.3 sec @ 132 mph
Carbon Fiber Track Pack Equipped Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Tire: Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2
0–30 mph: 1.7 sec
0–60 mph: 3.6 sec
0–100 mph: 7.1 sec
¼-mile: 11.4 sec @ 132 mph
Strangely, the more street oriented tire put up faster times than the track compound. Car and Driver reached out to Mustang Shelby GT500 lead development engineer Steve Thompson, who said this result it not at all surprising. Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are designed to prioritize lateral cornering grip, rather than initial straight line acceleration.
Thompson said the Pilot Sport 4S (PS4S) tire holds heat better in its thicker tread, boosting initial traction off the line. The PS4S’s internal construction is also designed with occasional drag racing in mind, whereas the Sport Cup 2 is not. Of course, the tread pattern and rubber compound itself is dramatically different between the two tires, each with a different focus.
These differences in use case led to the Carbon Track Pack equipped Mustang Shelby GT500 to put up 1.13 G on Car and Driver’s skid pad, while the standard car was behind at 0.99 G. So, this leaves prospective GT500 customers with an easier decision on whether to spec the Carbon track Pack. If you won’t take it on track, or plan to drag race it, save the $18,000 and go faster. But if lap times are the ultimate priority, the Track Pack is a must-have.