Let me pose two questions to you all, dear readers. First of all: how much power is too much? And second of all, what is it that makes a car a sleeper?

Well, I’d venture that a Shelby GT500 has too much power. 550 horsepower from a huge supercharged V8 is excessive. It’s enough power to light the tires up clear through third gear. It’s enough power that if you buy one, you should automatically have a pending felony conviction for gross display of horsepower. Or wreckless driving. Or attempted manslaughter.

Now, what’s a sleeper? Well, a sleeper is a car that looks stock, but is a lot faster than stock. So is it possible for a car like a Shelby GT500, which has 550 horsepower, to be a sleeper? I’d say the answer is yes, and apparently so do Shelby and NRE (Nelson Racing Engines.)

Now, we don’t really do a whole lot of SEMA coverage here at CarThrottle. There’s a couple of reasons for that; one, none of us live very close to Las Vegas (in fact, some of us live on the other side of the world from Las Vegas!) and also, most of the cars at the SEMA show are… hmm… how to put this nicely? They’re show-car crap. What possible porpose could the world have for a Hyundai Equus slammed on airbags with huge chrome wheels and a turbocharger? None, that’s stupid. But there was one debut at SEMA that I’d consider significant, and it flew under the radar because, with the hood closed, it looked like a 3-year-old Shelby Mustang. And while 500+bhp Mustangs are cool, they aren’t exactly news.

So when I heard rumors a while ago that Shelby was working on a 1000+ horsepower, twin-turbocharged GT500, I was skeptical. Shelby is more of the tape-and-stickers type of tuner these days, using Ford Racing components and lots of Shelby badges to inflate the base price of Mustangs to absurd levels. When they rolled this black Mustang out on the SEMA show floor, it was sort of lost amidst the crowds of chromed-out hoopties and Lambo doors that fill up the show. That was a mistake. This car is a monster.

Under the hood beats a highly modified, 5.4L iron-block 32v Modular V8. In place of the crank driven supercharger are two 61mm Turbonetics turbochargers, breathing through twin independent intercoolers into an Alien Intake manifold. There’s a lot of clever technology in this engine build, it’s not just a ton of boost and low-compression pistons. The Code Red is equipped with two seperate gas tanks, one for 91 octane pump gas and one for full-on race gas. It also has two seperate sets of injectors, 16 total -- primaries for pump and secondaries for race. The secondary injectors are run on a WOT switch, which switches the engine over to 50% race gas at full throttle, allowing higher boost without detonation. In addition to this crazy fueling system, there’s also a gear-based boost control system to help with getting a 1000+ horsepower RWD Mustang off the line. First and second gear are limited to 7psi on street tires, with 3rd and 4th allowing higher pressures -- 10-15 in 3rd and 20+ in fourth. The system is programmable, so if the car has stickier drag slicks on it the individual gear boost limits could be higher.

Nelson Racing Engines went through extensive setup and testing to make this motor. They tried out 6 different turbo setups and 5 different custom-ground cams before finding the sweet spot. The results are impressive, to say the least. As you can see in the video, the GT500 Code Red puts down 1112 horsepower and 976 ft-lbs at the rear wheels. That’s at about 23psi; power output with more boost on race gas is closer to 1400bhp. Simple insane. What’s great about this setup? All the work that went into developing it right means it’s totally streetable; NRE boss Tom Nelson used it to get to work while it was being perfected, and Gary Patterson from Shelby American says it “drives like your mom’s Buick until you get into boost.”

Now, 1400 horsepower is about as much as 3 stock GT500′s would put to the wheels if you could combine them all, so the Code Red obviously has an upgraded driveline to handle all the power. There’s a 9″ Currie rear differential, a 6-speed transmission that NRE refers to as “Tranzilla” (ha!), and of course 14″ Baer brakes up front to slow the beast down. And if things go wrong (not hard to imagine) there’s an integrated 10-point rollcage built in to the car.

At this point, the Code Red is just a prototype, but if you pay attention to some of the captions in the video you’ll notice they allude to it being available as a package through Shelby American. Cost? Around $100,00… plus the price of a GT500. Of course, where else are you going to get a 1400bhp street-legal car for $130,000?

Back to the original questions, obviously 1200whp is too much. This car will break the tires loose with ease at 80mph on the highway. But is it a sleeper? Well, if looks like a stock GT500 but has almost triple the power, then I’d say it’s the definition of a sleeper. Now, where do I sign? And who wants to lend me a GT500 and a hundred grand?