The GT500 is impossible to match, but these cars are cheaper.
Let's face it, the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is a performance bargain at $73,995. Yes, it's expensive "for a Mustang" but with 760 horsepower on tap courtesy of a 5.2-liter supercharged V8, you won't find better performance-per-dollar on the market. A Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye has more raw power, but it's much heavier and not nearly as capable on a race track.
This creates an issue for us. Our Smart Buy pieces are predicated around finding cheaper, used cars that can outperform (or come close to) a new one for a fraction of the price. But in the case of the new GT500, there simply aren't any. But while none of these cars can outperform the GT500, there's no getting around the fact most people can't spend $100,000 (with options) on a brand-new car. So if you can live without having the best production muscle car on the market, here are some cheaper used alternatives.
760 horsepower might be a bit much for some people, which is why Ford now sells two different Shelby Mustang models at the same time. The "entry" model is called the GT350 and uses a normally aspirated 5.2-liter V8 producing 523 hp. This 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 differs from the Predator engine in the GT500 because it has as a flat-place crank, giving it a more exotic sound.
Though not as quick in a straight line, the GT350 will come close to the GT500 on the race track, especially in the hardcore R guise. Used examples of the GT350 start at under $40,000 and even the R model, which was marked up by dealerships when it first arrived, can be found in the low-$50,000 range.
The last GT500 was sold from 2010 to 2014, receiving a major upgrade in 2013. The 5.4-liter supercharged V8 was replaced by a 5.8-liter unit, boosting the power from 540 to 662 hp. All of this grunt was sent rearward through a six-speed manual transmission out to a live rear axle with a limited-slip Torsen differential. This GT500 was built more for top speed than track performance but you can now get one starting at under $40,000. If you are willing to go for one of the lesser models with "only" 540 hp, they start around $25,000.
Some people will never take their car to the track, which is why a used Dodge Challenger Hellcat is a fine used purchased. Contrary to popular belief, the Hellcat can be driven on a track, it is just heavier than the Camaro or Mustang. With 707 hp from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, the Hellcat gets closest to the GT500 on power. It also comes with the option of a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Used prices now start at around $40,000.
We can already hear the complaints about why we didn't include the Corvette ZR1 on this list. Well, with a starting price of $120,900, prices haven't come down enough for it to be less than a new GT500. The Z06, on the other hand, can now be found starting under $50,000 on the used market. The 6.2-liter supercharged V8 is plenty potent with 650 hp and comes with a choice of a seven-speed manual or eight-speed automatic.
The supercharged Camaro ZL1 may seem like the more direct competitor to the new GT500 but we opted instead for the more track-focused Z/28 model. Since we already had a supercharged GM car on the list, we wanted to offer a unique take with the Z/28. This Camaro was powered by a 7.0-liter V8 producing 505 hp going out to the rear wheels through a manual transmission only. It won't beat the GT500 around a track but like the GT350, it offers more driver involvement if you prefer a challenge. Used prices start just under $40,000.
The GT500 may be the most track-capable car under $100,000 but some buyers simply prefer having badge prestige over raw speed. For those buyers, a used M4 GTS will just undercut a new GT500 with options on price. The GTS was the most hardcore M4 variant, packing a 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six producing 493 hp. With a half roll cage and a water injection system, this is the most track-focused M4 of the F82 generation. Only around 800 were built, meaning it may have some collection value as well.