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The 1,000-hp Shelby 1000 Mustang is so extreme, it’s not street legal

It’s hard to argue with 1,000 horsepower. That’s what the Shelby 1000, the latest tuned Ford Mustang from Shelby American, delivers. But owning an American muscle car with supercar-like power requires some compromises.

Unveiled at SEMA 2017, the Shelby 1000 is based on the current-generation Mustang, meaning versions from model year 2015 to 2018. Shelby replaces the stock engine with a 5.2-liter V8. You may think Shelby just swapped in the engine from Ford’s own GT350 Mustang, which has the same displacement. But while the Shelby engine does share cylinder heads with the GT350 motor, it doesn’t share that engine’s unorthodox flat-plane crank design. The Shelby 1000 engine is also supercharged, while the GT350 engine is naturally aspirated.

The new engine is backed by reinforced fuel and cooling systems, and a retuned transmission. Shelby also widened the car’s track, part of an aesthetic makeover that includes flared fenders, a new front fascia, a vented hood, a new rear fascia with diffuser, and Shelby-specific 20-inch wheels. On the mechanical side, Shelby fitted upgraded suspension and brakes. When you’re dealing with 1,000 hp, good brakes are very important.

But you’ll only be able to unleash that power on a racetrack. Shelby elected not to pursue emissions compliance for the new engine, meaning the Shelby 1000 isn’t street legal. Shelby did build a previous-generation 1000 Mustang from 2012 to 2014 that was offered in both street-legal and track-only versions, but apparently decided it wasn’t worth the hassle this time around.

The new Shelby 1000 package can be applied to any V8 Ford Mustang from the 2015 model year on. The conversion is priced at $169,995, not including the cost of a Mustang donor car. Shelby estimates the total cost, including the donor car, to average $219,995. The company only plans to make 50 cars per year, adding the incentive of collectibility.

In an era when you can buy a 650-hp Camaro or an 840-hp Challenger, a 1,000-hp Mustang isn’t quite as awe-inspiring as it once was. Add in the high price and the fact that you can’t drive the latest Shelby 1000 on the street, and this muscle car definitely becomes a niche product. But there is something special about a four-digit horsepower figure and, for dedicated power junkies, that will be enough.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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