I shouldn’t be driving this. The Shelby GT500 Mustang that’s currently at the mercy of my right foot has actually been loaned to crankandpiston’s own Phil McGovern. Just for a few hours mind, and that’s just to help blow some cobwebs away after a tough week at the fort. I have other ideas though.
Fortunately, Phil’s just opened a rather wordy email, rolled his eyes and heaved a heavy sigh. So he hasn’t noticed me sliding the Shelby keys off his desk and escorting resident C&P lensman Moe out the door.
There’s a good reason for this act of petty larceny. The chance to jump behind the wheel of this multi-horse-powered brute is a good incentive for one. Okay, a Mustang in the UAE is as exclusive as sunburn, but how many GT500s does one see roaming the streets? A couple of iPhone shots and a like or two on facebook wasn’t going to be enough. And so, our hunt for a suitable location begins.
Subtlety is checked at the door with the Shelby. The flared wheel arches and enormous air intake on the bonnet make sure the muscle car label is clearly displayed, the jutting rear spoiler and go-faster – nay ‘get outta my way’ – red stripes making sure. There’s the thunderous V8 bellow on start-up that can make one temporarily deaf. And then there’s the winking viper on the steering wheel, distracting me from its hissing counterparts adorning the headrests.
Even driving the beast requires limited tact. Just getting the Shelby moving requires depressing a very stiff clutch pedal, wrenching the gears into place with the manual transmission (goodie, goodie!) and getting the revs well into mid-range before the wheels begin to creep. Driving ‘carefully’ almost feels like sacrilege. Then again, explaining to our delightful benefactor that her beloved machine’s received a hefty wallop on my watch is something I’d rather avoid.
Once I’ve got my eye in through the lunchtime rush, I open the taps. The small of my back receives an expected punch and everything in the mirrors suddenly gets smaller. Right now, I’m not interested in steering response, road noise or brake durability. That burst is what I’ve been waiting for. There’s no gradual increase in pace: the power’s either on or off, and boy does that make me giggle.
I leave the gear change as long as I dare to prolong the exhaust notes that are roaring furiously. Hit the brakes, recover and do it all over again. And this particular stretch of tarmac runs for 5km. Don’t scratch it James, don’t scratch it…
Moe’s keen photographic senses find us a setting almost immediately, and the Shelby is soon being put through it’s varying poses. So pleased is Moe with the location that the shoot is done in record time, and we’re back in the office within 90 minutes. Nobody’s going to have noticed that we disappeared for a bit.
Phil’s waiting at the door, arms folded, right foot tapping. Ah… >>>