Drag Race: Tesla Model Y takes on the Mustang Shelby GT500

Edmunds recently bought a Tesla Model Y Performance and it seems like they're excited to race it against some fierce internal combustion engine (ICE) cars out there. This time around, a Ford Mustang Shelby GT 500 gets a chance to test its muscle car street cred against the all-electric silent but intense Model Y. 

Above: Tesla Model Y Performance and Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 getting ready for a drag race (Source: Edmunds / YouTube)

This classic American muscle car from Ford has evolved into a modern-day street and drag racer. Yet even against the slowest Tesla performance variant, the Mustang lags behind. Model Y Performance has the slowest 0-60 mph time of 3.5 seconds among all the Tesla performance variants, but it still shames the ICE racing icon.

Let’s compare both cars via their performance specs to understand their potential and varied capabilities on the dragstrip.

Tesla Model Y Performance vs. Ford Mustang Shelby GT specs comparison.

Above: Tesla Model Y Performance vs. Ford Mustang Shelby GT specs comparison (Data Source: Manufacturer specs, Car and Driver)

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 looks promising on the spec sheet compared to the Tesla Model Y Performance. That said, it still has trouble proving itself in a real world drag race. Perhaps factors like Tesla’s instant torque and ultra-quick acceleration made it a clear winner in these races.

An ICE car like the Shelby GT500 has become more of a showpiece than drag race nemesis in the age of Teslas. But ICE drivers still brazenly challenge Tesla owners in street and drag races. One such cocky Mustang owner challenged Model 3 Performance owner Kim Paquette only to face down (embarrassingly on Twitter) the blistering-fast 0-60 time of 3.2 seconds from the Tesla.

Above: There's still widespread ignorance from some who must assume all EVs are just golf carts — ummm, guess again (Source: Kim Paquette / Twitter)

When I shared a street race video back in 2019, showing a Tesla Model 3 leaving a Mustang far behind in the rear-view mirror, many Mustang enthusiasts said that it was not a fair race, the Mustang owner didn't use launch control, blah, blah, blah. Now a fair-and-square race is right in front of us — the instant torque and acceleration of the all-electric Tesla is simply superior to the fossil-fuel powered ICE-mobile.

Video: Tesla Model Y Performance vs. Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 drag race (YouTube: Edmunds)

Besides gas emissions, the Mustang Shelby GT500 costs a whopping $13,000 more. And the Model Y doesn't need some elaborate launch control system to take off — just floor the accelerator and (pretty quickly) you’ll be the winner.

In the 21st century, the old icons are now dinosaurs (sipping dinosaur juice). In their place, some new icons have arrived — luckily Ford is catching up with the times and are going electric now with the impressive Mustang Mach-E. We can't wait to see how the Mach-E fares on the track racing against competitors ranging from Tesla to ICE-age speed demons alike.


Written by: Iqtidar Ali. An earlier version of this article was originally published on Tesla Oracle.