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Less is More: Simple Mods make this 2014 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 Stand Out from the Pack

For as long as muscle cars have been a staple in the American automotive marketplace, the need to strike a balance between drivability and performance has been present. The very idea of “big engine, small car” conveys a notion of old-fashioned American home-brewed over-the-top ingenuity that has inspired generations of enthusiasts. 

Ford Shelby GT500 front view

Have They Gone Too Far?

The catch, however, is that as manufacturers have gotten better at building performance engines, the temptation to “improve” the rest of the platform follows. Modern independent suspensions, automatic transmissions, and next-gen engine tuning all create faster cars, but in that improvement, the final product moves farther and farther away from the classic muscle car formula.

Ford Shelby GT500 Cobra badge

Considering the current players, Dodge has probably stuck to the traditional recipe the closest. Gobs of power in comparatively simple platforms has created a lineup of borderline irresponsible cars that sit at the top of a golden era of domestic performance. 

2014 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 side view

Ford and Chevrolet have their own incredible offerings, but have been less afraid to move the needle closer to modern performance standards. As proof of this, the Camaro has largely improved itself out of production as the difference between it and the halo Corvette shrunk to the point of the Corvette needing to completely reinvent itself. 

Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 rear view

Ford doesn’t have a Corvette-sized ceiling to worry about, and has thus pushed the Mustang further and further into the performance stratosphere. Calling the GT350 a muscle car feels almost disingenuous to its capability, and the new GT500 is a monster built with the best parts that Ford has to offer. Yet there is a breed of enthusiast that prefers the more analog nature of yesterday’s muscle car. For those, the 13-14 GT500 was the absolute peak of that experience. 

2014 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 front view

Keep It Simple

For owner David Gleason, the love for the Mustang started from the beginning of his automotive pursuits. He moved between the SN95 and fox body a couple of times, but recently decided that it was time to invest in what he really wanted.

2014 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 rear view

“I decided to get a 13-14 GT500 because they were the only years with the 5.8L engine and the last generation of GT500 that Carroll Shelby had his hands on. Stock was 662 HP, last year with the live rear axle before they went to IRS and it was the last year they came in a manual transmission.”

Nitto NT555 RII on Ford Shelby Cobra GT500

Bang for the Buck Mods

Despite the GT500 having an extremely healthy 662hp, David wanted to extract as much power as he could from the supercharged V8. “My goal was to get the best bang for the buck power increase, so I got the VMP stage 4 kit,” he said. “The car hasn't been dynoed but the kits have been proven to make about 700RWHP.”

2014 Shelby GT500 engine bay

The Power Pack includes a pulley set, JLT 123mm cold air intake, and a VMP Twin 67mm TB. A custom VMP tune is loaded in through an SCT X4 tuning device. A VMP triple pass heat exchanger was also added to help keep temperatures cool. 

Ford SVT Cobra GT500 engine

The Kooks 3" exhaust finishes out the power improvement nicely, giving the GT500 even more tone without sacrificing drivability. 

Kooks exhaust on 2014 GT500 Mustang

To get the Mustang looks to match the power boost, David installed a set of H&R Super Sport lowering springs, the lowest available for the GT500. A set of Project 6GR Seven wheels replaced the OEM Shelby wheels for a more sinister aesthetic. 

Nitto NT555 G2 on Ford Shelby Cobra GT500

Nitto Tire Combo

“When I got the car, it was in the stock tires and they were like ice skates. A blip of the throttle and I would kick out the back end. That's fun and all, but I'd rather stick and go.” David did research and landed on an all-Nitto combo of 285/35/20 NT555 G2 summer ultra high performance tires up front and meaty 305/35/20 NT555 RII DOT compliant drag radial tires in the rear.

NT555 RII on Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 RII

The high-grip compound and semi-racing construction of the NT555 RII provide increased traction when the GT500 is under throttle, while the large circumferential grooves allow for respectable drivability on the street.

Nitto NT555 RII on Shelby GT500

The NT555 G2 up front gives the Mustang extra on-street reliability on the non-driven axle, but shares a tread design that doesn’t detract from the visual impact of the GT500. 

Nitto NT555 RII tread

More Power to Come

Looking ahead, David plans to continue the build with even more power. “In the future I plan to have the stock short block rebuilt (the rods are the weak point), add an aftermarket supercharger and aim for around 850-900 RWHP.  I don't plan to add anymore mods to the exterior or interior because I think less is more.”

Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 rear angle

Although “less is more” seems like an odd mantra for a 700hp Mustang, that philosophy of minimalism truly encapsulates the ideals of the earliest muscle cars. Take a small car and throw as much dumb power as it can handle. The 2014 GT500 is arguably Ford’s best execution of that recipe, and we’re happy to see David stay true to its roots. 

2014 Ford Shelby Cobra GT500 front angle

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