By now, there’s no need for a Shelby history lesson. We’re all familiar with his contributions to the automotive world and especially the evolution of the Ford Mustang. His cars have always been great to look at and even better to drive, adding a nearly universal appeal to examples like this 2008 Shelby GT500 convertible. One of just 2,070 convertible GT500’s built for the model year and one of just 181 to leave the line in Vista Blue, the car is a fairly rare piece any way you slice it. But the car’s most impressive numbers are generated under the hood, where a Kenne Bell supercharger takes the 5.4L well above its 500hp baseline. Backed by a stout Tremec TR6060 and a lightly updated chassis, this car is an absolute blast. Buy it for rarity, buy it for power – just make sure to enjoy it because this car definitely wasn’t made to sit still.
The best part of buying a GT500 is the understanding that you’re buying an improved version of an already great car. Visually, the formula consists of a standard Mustang GT convertible updated with plenty of exclusive Shelby pieces. Interestingly enough, one of the most striking features came from Flat Rock – the Vista Blue paint. A vast majority of the late-model Shelby cars that have passed through the showroom have worn brighter hues. The blue is a low-key option and, with this much power on tap, flying under the radar isn’t a bad thing. Naturally, the factory-sprayed paint still looks great and the body is free of any notable flaws. A black convertible top stretches out over the interior and, when not in use, stows away neatly.
Taking a closer look at the GT500, it’s clear that design efforts focused on making the car look larger and more substantial than factory Mustangs. Up front, the wide mouth grille sports a right-justified Cobra badge, while HID headlights fill out of the corners. Amber turn signals are incorporated into the bumper cover, as are deeply inset driving lights that sit just above a composite chin spoiler. The engine bay is protected by a bulging vented hood which matches the overall look perfectly. The side profile wears large Cobra badges with GT500 lettering as well as textured composite side skirts that flow into the texture trim, gracing the bottom of the rear bumper cover. Just above, triple taillights and a chrome faux gas cap sit under a low-rise spoiler, completing the classic Mustang look. The package is aggressive, attractive and something you certainly won’t get tired of seeing in your garage.
Some of Shelby’s later work involved taking already impressive cars and elevating them even further. In that sense, this car is a perfect homage. The foundation remains stock with a 5.4L iron block filled with forged steel connecting rods, forged aluminum pistons, dual overhead camshafts, and a forged steel crank. Topped off by aluminum heads and an Eaton 2.3L supercharger, the setup was good for 500hp. These days, that number is closer to 725 horsepower thanks to a Kenne Bell twin-screw supercharger that''s held back only for the sake of streetability. Visually, it’s an impressive setup with a cold air intake feeding a dual 75mm throttle body setup housed in a Mammoth inlet. But looks aside, the car is scary fast and, if you’re the kind of guy that likes to take things to the next level, the sky is the limit. The Kenne Bell crew has turned out plenty of 1000hp+ setups based around this model supercharger so the only real limitations here are fear and finances. Aside from the forced air components, the bay looks stock and feels relatively docile around town until you roll into the throttle. The only other visible upgrade is the Borla exhaust system which sounds great and looks the part thanks to its polished stainless tips.
Although the Shelby GT500 convertible is a little softer than the coupe by nature, the car’s chassis received the same extensive upgrades over the base Mustang GT. Up front, a Macpherson strut independent suspension houses speed-assisted power steering and giant 14-inch front discs that are clamped by four-piston Brembo calipers. Out back, a three-link solid axle rear end houses sporty but efficient 3.31 gears and two-piston calipers that clamp 12.4-inch rear discs. The suspension is aided by standard antilock brakes and traction control that are both welcome features if you use this car anywhere near its potential. The chassis has received additional support in the form of bright red subframe connectors welded in at both sides. In the center, a Tremec TR6060 six-speed manual offers full control over the mighty 5.4L, while awesome looking 18-inch Shelby exclusive aluminum wheels with a smooth machined finish, locking lug nuts and black SVT center caps. Wrapped around those wheels are meaty Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires in sizes 255/45ZR18 up front and 285/40ZR18 out back.
Inside the car, highly bolstered sport seats with a retro stitch pattern and Cobra logos fit like a glove. A leather-clad steering wheel with convenient thumb grips sports a snake on its hub and includes buttons for the car’s cruise control system. Behind the steering wheel, the instrument panel is pure Mustang, and features Ford''s infinitely changeable dash lighting. The graphite faces with white lettering have a small SVT logo that serves as a programmable shift light which, along with aluminum accented pedals and an aluminum accented and red-stitched shifter, tips you off to the car’s pedigree. The dash around those instruments is some of Ford''s best modern work featuring a heritage inspired dual cowl design with gray trim with silver accents. At the center of the dash, Ford''s Shaker 1000 sound system features an AM/FM radio, a six disc CD changer, Sirius satellite radio and MP3 compatibility above knobs for the car''s climate control. The door panels feature large speakers below satin finished door handles and controls for the car''s power windows, power door locks and power mirrors. A few chrome accent pieces such as lock pulls and an emergency brake handle have been added but most everything here remains true to form. There are no visible signs of wear in this interior and everything works as it should, from the ice cold air conditioning to the powerful entertainment system.
Even without the rarity factor, this would be Mustang worthy of any performance enthusiast. With a Kenne Bell-assisted 5.4L V8, a great chassis, and an instantly recognizable look, it’s hard to think of a more desirable American car in this price range. Add in the Shelby name, limited production and low original miles and this thoroughbred starts looking like a great buy. If you’ve got room for an upgraded version of one of the baddest production Mustangs ever assembled, don’t miss the chance to own this awesome 2008 GT500 convertible!