The Tantalizing New Shelby Mustang Terlingua

Shelby Mustang Terlingua

What does Terlingua mean?
It’s pretty much common knowledge that Carroll Shelby was a fun-loving son-of-a-gun. Back in the 1960s, when he fielded a racing team with his buddies Bill Neale and Jerry Titus, Shelby and his Mustang mates would unwind at a large ranch in Terlingua, Texas. Hunting, riding dirt bikes and general hell-raising were the “R and R” activities of choice for these merrymaking men.

Jackrabbits were a common sight around the 200,000-acre ranch and gave rise to a mascot designed by Bill Neale for the racing team. And so the Jackrabbit logo, seemingly in a “Stop right there—you really don’t think you can beat us, do you?” pose, was born.

What’s a Shelby Mustang Terlingua?
In short, the Terlingua is the most track-focused Shelby Mustang you can get, that also pays tribute to that great 1960s racing team which won the 1967 Trans-Am championship. Sporting the iconic Jackrabbit on its fenders, the modern Terlingua is dressed in the black and yellow color scheme that the team primarily used back in the days when Sergeant Pepper and Pet Sounds were climbing the Billboard charts.

Shelby Mustang Terlingua Racing Team

Nostalgia aside, this ‘stang is chock-full of the latest race goodies. There are carbon fiber components aplenty, such as the hood, front splitter, rocker panels, rear spoiler, and rear diffuser.

Under that vented hood sits a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8, shared with the Shelby Super Snake Mustang, which sends “over 750 horsepower” to the pavement via either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission. Suspension tweaks include adjustable Eibach coil-overs, camber/caster plates, and lightweight 20-inch Weld wheels. Stopping power is adequately fortified with 6-piston front/4-piston rear Brembo brakes.

Shelby Mustang Terlingua
Interior highlights include added gauges for boost and oil pressure, unique headrests, and a plaque signed by Shelby, Neile, and Titus. Racing seats are optional.

Under that vented hood sits a supercharged, 5.0-liter V8, shared with the Shelby Super Snake Mustang, which sends “over 750 horsepower” to the pavement.

Track time
We put the Terlingua through its paces at Spring Mountain Ranch race track, which is about 60 miles west of Las Vegas. For comparison purposes (and to show off the rest of their fun-loving Mustang lineup), the Shelby folks also had a couple of Super Snake Mustangs on hand, on which the Terlingua is based, as well as a Shelby GT Mustang EcoBoost. Keep in mind these are all ultra-high performance versions of Ford’s already capable Mustang, with plenty of power underfoot and sharpened-up handling to go with it. And yet the Terlingua quickly showed itself to be the top track jock of the group.

Once we were comfortable with the circuit, the pace quickened, and we found that the Terlingua was very well-planted and confident when being caned around the track. The well-weighted, communicative steering and buttoned-down suspension allowed us to consistently pick off apexes with surgical precision. Even when running through a slight rise and dip in the track while approaching one of the first turns, this Shelby didn’t wiggle or waver off line.

Blasting out of the corners and down the straights in this well-behaved beast was effortless, thanks to the linear delivery of the tidal-wave of thrust on tap. Those brawny Brembos chipped in as well, allowing us to brake late and hard, time and again with no fade, as we dove aggressively into the turns.

Shelby Mustang Terlingua
Want one?
With a production run of just 75 total cars, of which 50 are slated for the U.S., the Shelby Terlingua Mustang will be a rare sight indeed. Pricing starts at $65,999, but that’s on top of the cost of a new 2015/2016 Mustang GT, meaning you’re at about $100 grand minimum.

For those lucky few who pony up (sorry) for a Mustang that can go head to head on a road course with European thoroughbreds that are three times the price, we salute you. The rest of us will be watching videos of your epic track days on YouTube.

Driven: the 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT-8 Muscle Car

Advance Auto PartsGot a chance recently to drive one of today’s top muscle cars, the Chrysler 300 SRT-8. You know the one — big rear-drive sedan with a touch of class and a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 under the hood. I wanted to get into a 2012 SRT-8 because that was the first year for the second-generation model, and Chrysler said it was a big step forward from the original 300 SRT-8.

Now, I had driven an older 300 SRT-8 a few years back, the one with the smaller 5.7-liter Hemi V8. Good friend of mine had one. My impression was that it got motor, and it don’t got much else. It reminded me a little of its legendary ancestor, the 1957 Chrysler 300C, which was a big ol’ land yacht that happened to have hot rod parts like a 375-horsepower V8 stuffed into it. There was plenty of speed, but I like a muscle car that really feels special, and this one didn’t do the trick.

So I hop into the 2012 SRT-8, and immediately I can see it’s a different beast. Let me tell you, the interior is amazing. We’re talking stitched panels, beautiful gauges, and the same kind of supple material on the dashboard that you see in a Mercedes-Benz. There’s a new 8.4-inch touchscreen, too, and it looks like a damn iPad. First one of these gadgets that I actually enjoyed using.

Then I fired up that 6.4-liter Hemi — same displacement as the one in the ’57 300C, by the way — and the true appeal of the 2012 SRT-8 dawned on me. See, I’ve driven hot rods, and I’ve driven a few luxury cars in my day, but I’ve never driven a car that’s truly both of those things at the same time. Trust me when I tell you, the 2012 300 SRT-8 pulls it off. It’s got a wicked exhaust rumble like the best muscle cars, and when you’re on the throttle and the muffler flaps open up, boy, you’re in muscle car heaven. There are 470 horses under that hood; ’nuff said, right? But when you back off, that roar switches to a smooth-sounding hum, and the car rides so nicely that it’s like you’re in a luxury cruiser. Best of both worlds? You better believe it.

I’ll tell you one thing I don’t like about the 2012 SRT-8, and that’s the five-speed automatic transmission. I heard it’s a hand-me-down from Mercedes, but something must have gotten lost in translation, because the shift quality is not up to snuff for a $50,000 — yes, $50,000 — performance car. Rumor has it that an eight-speed transmission is on the way, and from where I sit, it can’t come soon enough.

But the bottom line is that the 300 SRT-8 can do it all. It sure made a believer out of me. No doubt it’s one of the top muscle cars on the market, but it’s also one of the top cars, period. Take it from a Gearhead: this thing is the real deal.

Editor’s note: As you’re suping up your own muscle car, make sure to hit up Advance Auto Parts for great deals on DIY essentials. Buy online, pick up in store.

Photo courtesy of Car and Driver magazine.