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When “Crazy Fast” Just Isn’t Good Enough: Upgrading The 2020 Shelby GT500

If you like fast cars, particularly fast American cars, there’s never been a better time to be alive. Any way you slice it, today’s high-performance American machines are simply incredible in their capabilities.

2020 Mustang GT500 at the Drag strip doing a burnout

Far from the muscle cars of the past, today’s cars don’t just accelerate well. They stop, turn and lap a racing circuit faster than few could imagine just 10 or 20 years ago. More than just competing with each other, these flagship muscle cars can now outperform genuine supercars from Europe’s most prestigious makers. Of these super muscle machines, Ford’s Shelby Mustang GT500 is the latest and maybe the greatest. Following in the footsteps of the already-great Shelby GT350, the GT500 has taken the modern Mustang platform to entirely new levels of performance.

The Ultimate Factory S550

Just starting to appear on the roads and drag strips of America, the 2020 GT500 packs a newly developed supercharged 5.2L V8 among its hardware that makes an incredible 760hp and 625 lb-ft of torque from the factory. While previous high-end performance Mustangs only had manual transmissions, the new GT500’s only gearbox is a state-of-the-art, seven-speed, dual clutch automatic capable of shifting with an immediacy that a human being could only dream of.

2020 Mustang GT500 on Nitto NT555 G2 tires

When combined with other tricks like high performance magnetic dampers and a chassis even more dialed in than the already-fantastic GT350, the GT500 becomes a well-rounded piece of precision engineering that can wow a driver on any type of road
and out-lap cars costing twice as much.

Enter Kenne Bell

Yet, for as capable as the new GT500 is right off the showroom floor, the old-fashioned American hot-rodding spirit is always going to lead some to see if they can make it even better, and that’s exactly why the team at Kenne Bell wanted to get involved. You’ve probably heard the name, and Kenne Bell has been in the business of making cars go fast for more than 50 years now, offering a variety of complete supercharger kits and upgrade parts for factory supercharged vehicles.

2020 Mustang GT500 burnout

With a car as stout as the GT500, Kenne Bell was going to have their work cut out for them while trying to better the car’s performance. As you’ll see though, their efforts with the 2020 GT500 are already starting to pay off. Case in point, this Rapid Red GT500 that was already going under the knife before it was fully broken-in.

2020 Mustang GT500 on Nitto NT555RII and NT555 G2 Tires

As is often the case with factory supercharged cars, the work that Kenne Bell has done to the GT500 at this point is not major, but the gains in performance have already been proven substantial. The supercharger is still the factory unit (for now), but supporting
upgrades have given them a good idea of the potential this car has.

Unlocking the Power

Among the parts fitted to the car are Kenne Bell BOOST-A-PUMP, a trick solution to improve the factory fuel pump performance, along with a set of Injector Dynamics fuel injectors to deliver said fuel. Visibly, the biggest change under the hood is the Kenne Bell cold air intake, a common part used to extract extra horsepower on just about any type of modern vehicle. Another old school upgrade that’s been applied here is a Griptec supercharger pulley that allows the GT500’s factory supercharger to provide more boost. Perhaps the most significant upgrade done to the car is the Kenne Bell PCM tune, which takes the aforementioned upgrades and adapts the car’s tuning to make the most of them. All of these upgrades were fitted to the car in the span of just one week, and the result is an estimated 970hp (a 200+ hp improvement over the GT500’s already-giant stock figures).

Ford Mustang GT500 5.2L Supercharged V8

But even with all that extra power on tap, it won’t do much good if you can’t put that power down to the pavement, and this car has also seen some important upgrades in that department. With state-of-the-art engine and traction control systems, wide tires and most importantly, tons of power, the GT500 is a serious quarter-mile stormer out of the box, and it’s even better after that aforementioned boost in horsepower. This makes tire selection critical when looking to maximize the GT500’s street and strip performance, and that’s where Nitto’s newest drag radial tire—the NT555RII—comes in.

The NT555RII

Owners of high horsepower, street-legal modern Mustangs looking for serious drag strip performance have been using Nitto’s drag radial tires for years, and this hopped-up 2020 Shelby GT500 is the perfect vehicle to put the latest iteration of the innovative Nitto drag radial to the test.

Nitto NT555RII drag radial tire tread

The newly-released D.O.T.-compliant NT555RII has been designed to work in unison with the Nitto NT555 G2 tires on the non-driven axle, providing both the latest in traction technology and a matching look on all four corners of the car.

Nitto NT555 G2 on 2020 Mustang GT500

Along with a new look, the NT555RII delivers improved traction and quicker 60-foot times for drag racers, while still being capable of handling a variety of road conditions and wet weather on the street. Like the NT555 G2, the drag radial version has also been engineered for modern performance cars with a variety of sizes to fit cars like the 2020 Shelby GT500.

NT555RII drag radial on 2020 Mustang GT

970HP Now, More to Come

While there’s no doubt that a 970hp monster street machine that can handle the daily commute with ease would be considered more than enough by many, the truth is that we’ve only just seen the beginnings of the new GT500’s performance potential. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching what happens with this and other GT500s over the coming months and years.

2020 Mustang GT500 on Nitto NT555RII drag radial tires

Today’s high-tech muscle cars may be capable of performance that would be unheard of back in the golden years, but the desire to modify and make them go even faster is proving to be timeless. Once again, we tip our caps to the community of enthusiasts and aftermarket companies who say, “you can never go fast enough.”

For more on the new NT555RII drag radial, you can check out our special coverage straight from the drag strip. 

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