Why Ford Put A Dual-Clutch In The Shelby GT500

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Ford explained to us why it ditched the manual for the new range-topping Shelby.

With 760 horsepower from a 5.2-liter Supercharged V8 (codenamed the Predator), the 2020 Shelby GT500 is the most powerful Mustang Ford has ever produced. And with a 0-60 mph time under 3.5 seconds and a quarter-mile time under 11 seconds, it is also the quickest Mustang in Blue Oval history. Part of the GT500's incredible pace can be attributed to the potent Predator engine but a lot of it is the result of Ford's decision to use a seven-speed Tremec dual-clutch transmission instead of a traditional manual.

This is the first DCT used in a muscle car and the decision has caused a stir in the enthusiast community. At the launch event for the new GT500, we had the chance to ask Ford how the decision was made to use a DCT in place of a manual.

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The answer is pretty simple according to Ford Performance Marketing Manager, Jim Owens. Ford wanted to build the "best-performing Mustang" possible and that involved using some form of an automatic or dual-clutch. "For all-out performance on the track, I don't care how good of a driver you are," he added. "You will not be as fast" with a manual transmission.

But if you simply can't live without a manual transmission in your life, Owens did offer a solution. "If you are a third pedal person, get the GT350. This is the first time you've been able to buy a GT350 and a GT500 at the same time since 1970," he said. It may not have as much power (526 horsepower versus 760), but the GT350 offers a track-ready experience with a manual transmission at a lower price than the GT500.

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Ford is not the only automaker to take this approach with its sports car lineup. Porsche offers a manual transmission for the 911 GT3 but the more track-focused GT3 RS and GT2 RS are only offered with the company's PDK dual-clutch. The Tremec transmission used in the GT500 can shift in just 80 milliseconds, meaning it is far faster than any manual gearbox. Ford did add there could be a manual offering in the future if there is enough demand but, for now at least, the DCT is the only option.

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