The Shelby GT was really the sweet spot in terms of performance, slotting neatly between the Mustang GT and the supercharged Shelby GT500. A drop top was added to the lineup.
The 2008 Shelby GT slotted in between the Mustang GT and below the supercharged Shelby GT500. The successful formula from 2007 was applied again for the 2008 model year. Ford saw the 500-horsepower Shelby GT500 as the ultimate in Shelby Mustang performance and the Mustang GT as the default performance Mustang, so the opportunity for the Shelby GT was to be positioned as a more dynamic, more engaging version of the Mustang GT that was just shy of the top dog GT500.
The Shelby GT was really the sweet spot in terms of performance. It was not as insanely powerful as the super-high-output GT500 with the supercharged Ford GT engine and special enough to really be better than the Mustang GT. The V8 is strong, with a great exhaust roar, and it feels plenty powerful for the street. The shifter was great and a joy to use. The chassis and suspension were also a step on from what we were used to in Mustangs of the era. This was a special car.
The big highlights for the 2008 Shelby GT included:
216 Northern California Shelby GTs Offered in Grabber Orange (called the GT-C and covered here)
New convertible version of the Ford Shelby GT was made available for 2008 model year
New signature Vista Blue exterior with Shelby GT Silver stripes applied to all cars
The most exciting update for 2008 was the addition of open-air excitement in the form of a convertible version of the Shelby GT. This made a ton of sense given that the Mustang convertible was the number one selling convertible in the U.S. at the time. At the time they said “the Mustang program never stands still, we wanted to continue offering consumers what they want, and they told us it was a Ford Mustang Shelby GT convertible“. Amy Boylan who was President of Shelby Automobiles at the time said “the enormous response to the Shelby GT-H convertible convinced us to offer a drop top Shelby GT. And we had so many requests for blue that we decided to make it our signature color in 2008.”
In addition to the drop-top Shelby GT, both coupe and convertible models were now offered exclusively in Vista Blue exterior color with silver stripes for 2008. All 2007 models were painted either white or black so this was a big change in the looks department.
Just like prior years, all Shelby GT cars start life as specially equipped Mustang GT assembled at Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan, plant. The cars are then shipped to the Shelby Automobiles facility in Las Vegas for transformation into Shelby GTs.
At the Shelby shop, the cars get additional aerodynamic pieces, including a unique front fascia and large lower air dam, a hood scoop that is also used on Shelby Cobra roadsters and unique side scoops.
Under the hood, the engine is upgraded with a Ford Racing power package that pushes the 4.6-liter V8 to 319 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. The car comes standard with a five-speed manual transmission featuring a Hurst short-throw shifter. A five-speed automatic transmission is optional.
A Ford Racing handling package adds specially tuned dampers, stabilizer bars and a 3.55:1-ratio rear axle. The 2008 models got sport 18-inch polished wheels with high-performance P235/50ZR18 BF Goodrich gForce tires to maximize the upgrades. Like all Mustang convertibles, each drop top got supplemental bracing to give the car additional stiffness and the Shelby team added a stylish light bar.
About 2300 Shelby GT coupes and convertibles will be built for 2008 (with most of those likely being convertibles). The cars go on sale in August through Shelby-authorized Ford dealers, priced at $9,500 more than the base Mustang GT for the coupe, $11,800 for the convertible (prices include $1,000 gas-guzzler tax).
Approximately 2,300 2008 Shelby GT coupes and convertibles were built, available with manual or automatic transmission. Each car will feature an authentication plate on the center dashboard, as well as a matching tag under the hood for documentation in a forthcoming registry. Shelby Automobiles production started August 2007.