Camaro vs. Mustang: Why a Camaro guy appreciates the GT500 Mustang

Camaro vs. Mustang: Why a Camaro guy appreciates the GT500 Mustang

Everyone who loves cars knows of the hit movie Ford v Ferrari—nominated for 4 Oscars, btw!—but the real rivalry has always been Ford vs. Chevrolet. Yep, it’s been going on forever, but it really kicked into high gear in the mid- to late-1960s. And nothing epitomized this more than the sometimes-friendly-but-often-bitter rivalry between Mustangs and Camaros.

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Now, in the interest of complete disclosure, my first car was a 1964.5 Mustang coupe, but after that (aside from a brief relationship with a 5.0 Mustang in the early 1990s) I’ve been a Camaro guy. Like most Camaro guys, I did the whole “Mudstain” and “Found On Road Dead” comedy routine, and although Ford gave the Mustang a great sound, I just always saw them as slower and cars that pretended to be track-ready. Hell, how many fake scoops and air ducts did Ford festoon earlier Mustangs with? To me, it was a bit embarrassing. We joked about the Mustang’s propensity to swerve into pedestrians, and the Ford guys made jokes about Slowmaros and mullets.

But as time has marched on, Ford has started to take the Mustang (partnering with Shelby) more seriously, and to be honest, I’ve been warming up to them more and more. I’m more of a road-course and handling guy, so I was always happy that Chevy’s ZL1/1LE (and, before that, the Z/28) was beating the Mustang on road courses even if it was edged out on the dragstrip. But the gap was narrowing, and I was seeing the Mustangs as more than a nice exhaust note, fake aero, and a sticker package.

With the release of the new 2020 Mustang GT500, I could actually see myself once again staring at a little horse on my steering wheel (well, a snake, but you get the idea). It’s finally evolved to the point where even a diehard Camaro guy like myself has to give in and admit it’s a damn nice car that should be a blast on the track, both the straight and the curvy type, as well as around town. You see, this is the best benefit of these rivalries. It pushes the manufacturers to build cars to one-up each other. Who’s the winner? We are, because we now have access to insanely fast cars like the Camaro ZL1/1LE and now the Mustang GT500. So here are 5 things that won me over.

a close up of a motorcycle© Henry De Los Santos

Power!

Yeah, I’m more of a displacement guy and always felt the Ford engines were stupid big for only 302 cubes, but you really need to be impressed by the V-8 in the GT500760 hp? That’s over 100 more than the ZL1/1LE! The engines are hand-assembled like GM did with the LS7 mills, so that’s a big mark in the plus category. It’s a torque-dense engine putting out 625 lb-ft of twist, which is more than even a Hellcat. It’s a different engine than the flat-plane-crank GT350R because the standard V-8 just sounded better, and I can respect that. Did I mentioned they say it will run 10s in the -mile?

a blue car parked on the side of a road: 007-2020-GT500-Shelby-Mustang-Camaro-5-Things-1.jpg© Henry De Los Santos 007-2020-GT500-Shelby-Mustang-Camaro-5-Things-1.jpg

Looks!

Remember when the Mustang went retro with its looks. It was interesting, but it had everything to do with show and not much with go. This is where the epidemic of fake scoops kicked into high gear. The 2020 GT500 completely redeems itself here. The GT500 looks modern, but the styling still says it’s a Mustang. All the scoops do things important to going fast. The wide grill scoops up air to feed the blower and cool everything off. Whoever designed the body lines of the car needs a raise.

Handling and Braking!

I also remember when someone pitted a 2015 Z/28 Camaro against a contemporary “track-ready” Mustang. Both were similar in power, but the Camaro killed the Mustang on the road course for one simple reason: brakes! The Mustang had Brembos, but they were “meh” versions that carried the Brembo name and not much of the Brembo performance. The GT500? Yea, they fixed that by putting real brakes on the car. Its 16.5-inch rotors with track-capable Brembo calipers (as opposed to street calipers with Brembo lettering) are combined with carbon-fiber wheels and ultra-sticky Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires; 20 x11.5-inch carbon wheels? Wow, that escalated quickly! The suspension is better, too, with Ford coming to the party (finally?) with MagneRide suspension.

a car parked in a parking lot: 003-2020-GT500-Shelby-Mustang-Camaro-5-Things-1.jpg© Henry De Los Santos 003-2020-GT500-Shelby-Mustang-Camaro-5-Things-1.jpg

Real-Deal Track Parts!

Yeah, I seem fixated on fake scoops. Maybe it’s some sort of childhood trauma coming out. But if that’s the case, the GT500 is good therapy. Functional rear air diffuser? Check! Differential cooling duct? Check! Brake-cooling ducts that actually channel air to the brakes? Check! And the list goes on. The hood is designed to actually function and extract air from the engine bay. There’s a trans cooler to go with the diff cooler, and all these coolers have functional ducts to feed them air. It almost makes me tear up a bit. Oh, the rear spoiler? Yea, it’s for real with real adjustability for people that really want to take it to a real track.

a car parked in a parking lot: 009-2020-GT500-Shelby-Mustang-Camaro-5-Things-1.jpg© Henry De Los Santos 009-2020-GT500-Shelby-Mustang-Camaro-5-Things-1.jpg

Color!

This is going to seem rather shallow after waxing on about all the cool performance bits, but I love the colors being offered on the new GT500. The team at GM that decides these things, to me, is chicken. For the most part, Camaros come in red, white, black, silver, and yawn. Sure, they will sometimes offer something wild, but aside from the old Inferno Orange, they’ve been underwhelming. Between the GT500’s blue, orange, and even the lime green, I would be hard-pressed to choose, and that’s a good problem to have! The colors look like the in-your-face shades you expect on a track-ready ride. The color team at Ford needs a raise nearly equal to the body design guy. Maybe Ford could fire the person that named the Mustang-E electric SUV thing and give that money to the paint department?

Camaro vs. Mustang: Where do you stand? Let us know on Facebook.

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