Hail to the King: Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR Returns With 900 HP

Today, as it was back in the 1960s, the hottest Ford Mustang is the Shelby GT500. Sure, it doesn’t have a manual, but this modern muscle car has enough brawn to rival supercars. However, the GT500 is about to be dethroned—or is that crowned? Because Shelby American just revealed the special ‘Stang it’s been teasing. And Mustang fans, the Shelby GT500KR is back.

Twice before, the Shelby GT500KR ruled over the road

A blue-with-white-stripes 1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR Convertible
1968 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR Convertible | Artyom Geodakyan\TASS via Getty Images

Less hardcore than the GT350, the original 1967 Shelby GT500 was nevertheless a significant performance upgrade over the regular Ford Mustang. That’s thanks in part to its 7.0-liter ‘Police Interceptor’ V8. With twin four-barrel Holley carbs, the first-gen GT500 made 355 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque (SAE gross). But while the GT500 was more luxurious than the GT350, it still had handling upgrades like stiffer springs, upgraded dampers, and a bigger sway bar.

However, there was trouble on the horizon. Although the Cobra was embarrassing Corvettes at the racetrack, Shelby heard that Chevrolet had something more potent coming up. And the rumors claimed Chevy was going to call the 1968 Corvette ‘the King of the Road,’ Hagerty explains. But before that happened, Shelby copyrighted both the ‘King of the Road’ and ‘KR.’ And he applied both to the 1968 Shelby GT500KR.

Compared to the standard 1968 GT500, the GT500KR has significantly more (functional) intakes and vents. It also has a fiberglass hood and trunk lid, bigger brakes, heavy-duty Mustang suspension, a roll bar, and a front strut-tower brace. And underneath that hood is a completely different 7.0-liter V8, the ‘Cobra Jet.’ Ford claimed it only made 360 hp, but the real figures were closer to 400 hp and 440 lb-ft of torque, Car and Driver says.

A blue-with-white-stripes 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR at NAIAS surrounded by photographers
2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR at NAIAS | GEOFF ROBINS/AFP via Getty Images

Unfortunately, even with the handling and power upgrades, the 1968 Shelby GT500KR couldn’t handle like the Corvette 427. And while it was a fast Mustang, it didn’t return in 1969.

It did, however, return in 2008. Developed by Ford’s SVT division, the 2008 Shelby GT500KR gave the Mustang a new rear axle, short-throw shifter, Ford Racing suspension, grippier tires, and multiple carbon-fiber parts. Oh, and a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 with Ford GT and Ford Racing components making 540 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque. That meant a 4.3-second 0-60 mph time.

As before, the 2008 Shelby GT500KR was a one-year wonder. But now, the King of the Road is back—again. And it’s even more powerful.

The return of the King: Shelby American gives the 2020-2022 GT500 a royal supercharged upgrade

A blue-with-silver-stripes 2022 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
2022 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR | Shelby American

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2020-2022 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR
Engine5.2-liter supercharged V8
Horsepower900+ hp (on 93-octane gas)
TransmissionSeven-speed dual-clutch automatic

In some ways, the 2022 Shelby GT500KR combines aspects of the previous two. Firstly, it’s supercharged like the 2008 model, though to be fair, the standard GT500 is, too. And secondly, like the first KR, the 2022 model’s engine is more than what it seems.

For one, Shelby American threw out the standard 2.65-liter Eaton supercharger and installed a 3.8-liter Whipple unit. The V8 also gets a new intercooler, heat exchanger, cold-air intake, Borla cat-back exhaust, and ECU tune. So, if you run it on 93-octane gas, it makes over 900 hp. That’s 140 more than the regular GT500 at a minimum. As a result, with enough care and traction, it will likely break the 2020 GT500’s 3.4-second 0-60 mph time.

And just like the standard car, the Shelby GT500KR can do more than burnouts. In addition to the engine upgrades, Shelby also installed stronger half-shafts, Ford Performance front and rear sway bars, height-adjustable performance springs, and adjustable camber plates. The GT500KR retains the MagneRide dampers, though they’re recalibrated for KR duty. Also, it rides on one-piece forged-aluminum wheels with what appears to be “some flavor of” Michelin Pilot Sport Cup tires, Hagerty says.

Speaking of callbacks, the new Shelby GT500KR has another 2008 one. It has a carbon-fiber hood with functional vents as well as a carbon-fiber front splitter, rear diffuser, and Gurney flap. And if you’re a real track junkie, Shelby offers a rear-seat delete with a racing harness bar.

On the appearance side, the new Shelby GT500KR gets a numbered plaque, new floor mats and leather upholstery, and ‘Shelby’ rocker stripes. There’s also a widebody kit available as well as a polished supercharger (instead of the standard black). Only 2022-MY GT500KRs get the ‘60th Anniversary’ badges, though.

How much is the new ‘King of the Road?’

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You don’t have to buy a 2022 Shelby GT500 to get in on the KR, though, because the King is spreading its wealth. Shelby American can turn any 2020-2022 GT500 into a GT500KR. But you’ll have to get in line quickly once orders open on February 1, 2022.

Shelby is only making 60 KRs from each of those three model years for the US, plus an additional 45 examples for overseas customers. And if you want the first 2022 GT500KR, you’ll have to bid on it, because Barrett-Jackson is auctioning it off for charity.

Don’t expect any of these 900-plus-horsepower muscle cars to be cheap, though. The 2022 Shelby GT500KR costs $127,895. And converting a pre-existing $72,900 GT500 costs $54,995. Though to be fair, a good-condition 1968 KR is at least $130K, Hagerty notes.

Regardless, the King of the Road is back. Let’s see how long it reigns over the Mustangs this time.

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