Ford Authority

Mustang Shelby GT500: Let’s Talk About The New Rotary Shifter

When Ford dropped an all-new Shelby GT500 from the ceiling of the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, Mustang fans and automotive enthusiasts around the world rejoiced over the fact that this would be the most powerful production Ford vehicle to date, promising “more than 700 horsepower.” Well, more than 700 horsepower it has – 760, to be exact, finally delivering a Mustang capable of rivaling a Dodge Challenger Hellcat or a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE.

But then, Ford dropped another bombshell by saying that the only available gearbox for its hyper pony car would be a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. While such a setup will undoubtedly allow the Mustang Shelby GT500 to set lap records, some fans were saddened. To make things even worse, this new range-topping Shelby won’t feature an actual gear selector/shifter, but instead has a rotary gear selector, like the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Let’s take a look at the new Shelby GT500 rotary shifter.

Now, many will argue that once a car goes automatic, the way those gears are selected – whether by way of a lever, a dial or even buttons – it’s irrelevant, because the gearbox does all the shifting anyway, especially when you’re going full-tilt at the track. That’s half true. While, yes, steering column-mounted paddles will be available, removing the actual shifter from a Mustang is a big deal.

That’s because driving a Mustang is a sensory experience. Even with an automatic, the art of holding onto a big meaty shift lever is part of the thrill and, to many, nostalgia. Removing it is like taking away the Mustang’s signature trio of vertical tail lights.

But we get it, Ford is moving to a digital gear selection technology – much like on several Lincolns (via the push-button selectors) and on the refreshed Edge and new Explorer. Even so, the new Shelby GT500’s rotary shifter simply doesn’t feel right. Let’s hope that the rest of the car makes up for it.

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Automotive journalist from Canada.

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    Manual trans is old school.

  2. George S

    Too much fly by wire now a days.

  3. Jim Robertson

    No way! My heart just sunk to my stomach! I do not like automatics. I feel it takes away my fun, and responsibility of actually making the car move! Someone’s going to find a way to mate-up a T56 or some 6 speed! This is just awful. C’mon Ford, what’re you thinking? Fix this issue! I know a lot of people that won’t be buying now. Including me. Guess I’ll settle for a 5.0 with bolt-on’s. WE WANT OLD SCHOOL!!! That Red eye or ZL1 is looking better and better. Maybe an older GT500? forget this….I want my Hurst sticker.
    Disappointed ?

  4. Sukhoi31m3

    Oh Jeez… I realize that auto shifted cars are ultimately faster than manuals at the track but in everyday driving, if you’re into doing your own shifting, sticks are way more fun.

    Instead of a rotary shifter knob and dual clutch trans I wish Ford would give me an unimpeachable manual trans with smooth short shifts in all weather. Wouldn’t it be nice to take in a Mustang road test where you read things like “the clutch is lined with velvet, the shifter stirs cream”…..
    That of course is Car &Drivers description of a Porsche manual, but wouldn’t a Mustang with 760 horses and the best manual in the business be a blast to own? Imagine: 760 horsepower and you can access every bit of it effortlessly with a good six speed manual…..Heaven on earth.

  5. Ken Martin

    I wish they would have implemented a shift lever such as the pdk on the porsche.

  6. George Patterson

    I was always a fan of sticks until I got a couple of paddle shift cars. Way more fun than sticks. Think this through – the only thing you’ll do with the knob is activate the transmission. From there you pick street, sport, race mode. Grab the wheel, fingers on the paddles and hang on.

  7. SnakesOnAPlane

    Nothing better than today’s beast 8 and 10-speed autos. While you geezers are back their blowing your tires off, or missing a gear, I’ll just have my foot planted and be dozens of yards ahead. Sticks are for wannabes.

  8. wesley hayes

    i dont care i’ll never be able to afford this car SO<< i'll be happy driving my 66 coupe with its 351W 4spd

  9. Jim Robertson

    I’d rather miss an occasional shift, which I doubt, that just sit back and floor it! How fun that? Ford, YA, DONE MESSED UP! You dressed up the biggest badass, in a too-too! Give us a 6speed and I’ll row the gears!

  10. Jim Robertson

    Spoiled babies, learn how to drive a standard shif ya young spoiled brats!

  11. Jim Robertson

    Spoiled babies, learn how to drive a standard shift ya young spoiled brats!

  12. Paul Burnett

    At least it’s not mounted in the middle of the steering wheel.


    Well at least the GT350 still comes with a stick and it’s cheaper…

  14. Dave

    I started driving mustang’s around 2010 or 11′. And I’m only 25. It started with an 01′ v6 and have driven many since then including my current 2019 Mustang GT manual. Up until now I was driving all automatics. And it’s very true that having a physical shifter instead of a rotary is much more satisfying for people who truly enjoy driving. Whether it be auto or manual.

  15. Jim Robertson

    This was a kick right in the nuts to us about to retire and buy a new GT500!
    Now I’ve got my eye on a 2013 Shelby!

    I’ll admit, it’s a nice setup, but to look in the car and see a round baby rattle on the console……no thanks!

    1. Old School Ford Girl

      Agree! They’ve ruined all of their vehicles with this knob, except the trucks. What were they thinking?

  16. Albert Poore

    having a stick doesnt matter in automatics. Yes ! I love manual trans

  17. Chris

    not having a stick shift option was a buzz kill !!!

  18. Reply
    1. Jim Robertson

      Haha! Funny gadget. I don’t know about you folks, but when buying a new or used Mustang, if givin the option, I always check the “manual” box in the search. I don’t want an automatic! But that’s just me.

  19. WT

    Rotary shifter caused me to reconsider buying this car. It’s like mutilation. Unbelievable. Glad I did, if I’ve gotta not have a shifter might as well be the new Vette!! Thanks Ford marketing…you saved me the 70k of disappointment…..maybe you can bring back the Edsel or Pinto too…! WTF

  20. Dave

    Had my sights on the new 2020 Explorer. Took a test drive and DID NOT like the rotary shifter.
    Bought a 2019, instead, with the “stick” shifter. (Saved alot of money, too!)

  21. Lou

    I do like something rest my hand on.. Dumb question, can you switch the rotary knob with a stick aftermarket?

  22. Jah

    “Meaty”… ayo?


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