Street legal race car or street legal race car? When looking at the 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 and the 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8, those are your two glorious options.
The Shelby features a 5.8L supercharged V8, knocking out 662 hp and 631 lb/ft of torque. It slams you from 0-60 in 3.5 seconds, clears the quarter mile in 11.8 seconds, and has a top speed of 202 mph. EPA fuel ratings are 15 in the city and 23 on the highway. It is only available in a 6 speed manual transmission, and expect to get plenty of tire squeal when shifting from 1st to 2nd, and even 2nd to 3rd.
The Charger, while having a 6.4L Hemi, “only” produces 470 hp and 470 lb/ft of torque. The 5 speed automatic gets you from 0-60 in 4.3 seconds and through the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds, with an EPA fuel rating of 13/23. Top speed is 175 mph.
Each transmission has its own unique features. The manual in the Shelby GT500 can take you to 60 mph in 1st gear and 140 mph in 3rd gear. Fortunately 6th gear functions as an overdrive, dropping your rpms to a low 1500, even while cruising at highway speeds.
When operated manually via the paddle shifters, the transmission in the Charger absolutely will not shift without driver input. This is becoming increasingly rare, as many “manumatics” will not let you maintain high revs and will downshift for you, sometimes at inappropriate times.
Mustangs are famous for their live rear axle, and the GT500 is no different. This makes driving the Cobra a bit tricky on city streets where smooth pavement is not the norm. Unlike an independent rear suspension, a live axle connects the wheels laterally, so that whatever happens to one, happens to the other, you can feel that as the GT500 is squirrely as all get out. I mean we are putting all 600+ horses to the pavement through those rear wheels. The ride is fairly comfortable in normal mode, but stiffens up nicely when sport is selected.
The Dodge Charger with its IRS setup in the rear inspires a bit more confidence. The RWD stays fairly planted in the corners and the steering is very sensitive. The rack and pinion with hydraulic assist is heavy, the way I like it, and minimal input is needed. In regular mode you’ll find the ride stiff but not necessarily uncomfortable. Hit sport or track mode and the car will stiffen up noticeably. It’s not for town driving, unless your idea of comfort is being bounced around like a pinball.
Interior-wise, the Charger wins hands down, mostly due to the touch screen media console. While at first glance it seems to be confusing, upon closer inspection everything is laid out very logically. The computer responds quickly to your touch and is very intuitive. In comparison the inside of the Mustang Shelby looks very analog indeed.
Both cars need to be treated with respect, as high horsepower RWD vehicles are not for the inexperienced. However, only the Charger SRT8 comes standard with a track day so you can learn how to get the most out of your car and improve your skills as a driver.
The Shelby starts at $54,200 and our test model with the track passage came in at $62,285, for a horsepower to dollar ratio of 1hp for $94. Compare that to the starting price of the Charger of $46,250 and $50,000 as tested, giving you a ratio of 1hp for $106. I’d spend my money on the Mustang. Sure I don’t get the bells and whistles of the Charger’s interior, but I enjoy a driving challenge and more importantly, I’m a three pedal gal. I drive a manual or I drive nothing.