Why are Ford Shelbys so expensive?

The Ford Shelbys prices are based on their branded American muscle car look, innovated engine design, signature history with Shelby, racing history memories, and supply and demand. 

A 2021 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 starts off at around $72,900, which is quite expensive. However, if you want to include all of the appropriate features such as the carbon fiber package, leather seats, and great color combinations, your total will be pushing a little over $100,000. 

A used 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby with 3k-8k miles would cost between $85,000-$100,000. This is almost as expensive as the Nissan GTRs.

But why? In this article, we will go over the reasons why Ford Shelbys are so expensive while regular Ford Mustangs remain cheap.

Classic American look

With an advanced V8 engine, carbon fiber available package, manufactured in the US and American racing history, the Ford Shelby fits the exact stereotype of the classic American muscle car.

Of course, the style has been updated with changing and evolving consumer tastes.

For instance, take a look at the 1965 Ford Shelby:

And the 2021 Ford Shelby GT500:

Overall, the body has the same general shape despite a ton of changes to increase aerodynamic efficiency and weight management.

Also, you should notice that the newer Ford Shelbys do not have a shaker hood, a popular design feature in the previous century of American muscle cars.

For some buyers that have not attached themselves to American muscle car history, this would not be a big factor to consider.

However, having an original iconic look combined with modern engineering elements made a very radical and attractive design for newer buyers.

The cars designed now have both an element of vintage and swag, combined together creates an expensive product.

Engine and Upgrades

The engine is a 760-hp supercharged 5.2L Cross Plane Crank V8. At this point, what muscle car would not have a powerful engine?

In testing with standard summer tires, the Ford Shelby Mustang can reach 60mpg in 3.4s. It can also complete a 11.3s quarter mile at 132mph. 

The 2021 Shebly GT500 is now equipped with a seven-speed dual-clucth unit by Tremec, 15.5” rotor with six-piston Brembo front calipers and four-piston Brembo rear caliper breaks, and reshaped bodywork for maximal cooling.

That’s not even all of the features mentioned yet either. Leather seats are standard for comfort. A 12” LCD Digital Cluster is added for custom layouts. As mentioned earlier, the carbon-fiber track package will include 20” carbon-fiber wheels, carbon-fiber instrument panel, and carbon-fiber GT4 track wing. There will also be upgrades with the leather seats, splitter wickers, wheel-locking kit, rear seat delete, and wheel upgrades to front 305/30R20 and rear 315/30R20.

Anything and everything has been upgraded for optimal performance, comfort and stability in the 2021 Ford Shelby GT500. 

And the funny thing about it is that while these packages and upgrades may seem excessive now, 10 years from now, all these new gadgets and features will look obsolete. 

The Legendary Carroll Shelby 

The winner of the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans teamed up with Ford in order to design a car to defeat Ferrari in the 1966 Le Mans race. So, from 1966-1969, Ford crushed Ferrari in four straight Le Mans race, which is a huge accomplishment since Ferrari had a six year winning streak from 1960-1965.

Iconic Racing Culture

The Ford vs Ferrari film showed a glimpse of racing history and how much pride there was in American car manufacturing.

Here is a brief clip showcasing the speed and power of the Ford Shelby GT40:

In 2019, Carroll Shelby’s documentary was also published. While the newer generation will slowly adjust and learn about the history of the Ford Shelbys, anyone who grew up during the automobile boom will definitely understand why it was such a big deal.

The Ford Shelbys were just an iconic piece of racing history that just labeling it as expensive just wouldn’t be right.

It was not about the money at the time… reputation, pride and just being a patriot for your craft and beliefs.

Supply and Demand of Ford Shelbys

Since Shelby created cars under both Mustangs and Cobras, I will list the available production numbers for the respective years:

  • 1965: 572 Ford Shelby GT350
  • 1996: 2386 Ford Shelby GT350
  • 1967: 3251 Ford Shelby GT350
  • 1968: 4658 Ford Shelby 
  • 1969: 3153 Ford Shelby
  • 1970: 789 Ford Shelby
  • 2007: 10,864 Ford Shelby GT500
  • 2008: 9567 Ford Shelby GT500
  • 2009: 4253 Ford Shelby GT500

It is significant to point out that when Ford Shelbys were dominating the Le Mans and creating hype, they had an increased number of sales. When the Shelbys were discontinued and later bought back for public purchase, sales boomed once again and then trailed off.

Again, keep in mind that the Ford Shelbys are a special edition designed with Carroll Shelby. 

And while Shelby did help with the Ford Cobras, I will not be including those production numbers in this section.

The Ford Cobras were made with the Ford Special Vehicle Team (SVT) and used the classic Ford Mustang design.


Is the Ford Shelby is a regular Ford Mustang with a legendary name?

To some, this may be the case.

But Carroll Shelby stamped his name into American muscle car manufacturing with Ford and AC Cobra.

This allowed Ford to become more popular with winning racing records in the late 1960s. Combined with engineering excellence and marketing strategies, Ford was able to compete with the biggest car manufacturers to this day.  

The Ford Shelby price tag is justified even though it’s just a more powerful Ford Mustang. To purchase and own a piece of history, your money is well spent if you enjoy the Ford Shelby product line.

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