Ford Announces its Z/28-Chomping Shelby GT350R, Available Later This Year
Mustang enthusiasts are most certainly familiar with the Shelby GT350 Ford Mustang, but until recently, those words brought visions of the small and lightweight 1965 pony cars created by Carroll Shelby. They performed fantastic on track and on the street as well, the following year you could even rent one from Hertz. As the first of all the Shelby Mustangs, they move the needle with collectors. Actually, they bend it over backwards, as prime examples can fetch well beyond $250,000. Today, the heritage lives on as Ford announces a Z/28-chomping Shelby GT350R Mustang, available later this year. And its currently on display, along with the all-new Ford GT, plus an older Ford GT and a GT40, along with the new Raptor and base Shelby GT350 Mustang at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
As may of you know, Ford and Carroll Shelby teamed to develop a track version of the 1965 Ford Mustang – the Shelby GT350 Competition model. It was lighter, more powerful, had a highly developed suspension, and it won races. Mustang buyers will now have the chance to get the 2016 version, with just a bit more technology and way more power. Set to arrive later this year, the Shelby GT350R has been created with passion and will have never-before-seen track capability from a Mustang – thanks to innovations in aerodynamics, chassis engineering and light-weighting.
“The Shelby GT350R Mustang is a no-compromise car in the pursuit of maximum track capability,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “It is a thoroughbred street car making use of technology and ingenuity to deliver performance few enthusiasts have ever experienced.”
Under the hood is the unique hopped-up Coyote V8, with 5.2 liters of displacement and a flat-plane crankshaft. Ford says it will be the most powerful naturally aspirated engine it has ever produced. For increased grip, Mustang owners will enjoy stiffer spring rates and tuned antiroll bars, a performance alignment, revised bushings and jounce bumpers, cross-axis ball joints in the front suspension, and revised calibration controlling the MagneRide dampers. “The Shelby GT350R Mustang is a car with the nimbleness and power delivery you want on a road course,” said Nair. “This isn’t just about horsepower. The Shelby GT350R is an all-around balanced athlete – one that is extraordinarily precise and agile.”
Another first are the lightweight carbon fiber wheels, yes, we said carbon fiber wheels, that are standard on Shelby GT350R. This makes Ford the first major automaker to introduce this innovative wheel technology as standard equipment. Lightening the rotating mass improves performance by reducing critical unsprung weight and reducing rolling inertia. The wheels measure 19×11-inches in the front and 19×11.5-inches in the rear, and shed about 13 pounds per wheel. They also offer higher levels of stiffness than equivalent aluminum wheels. I’m sure they’re pricey, you wouldn’t want to curb one! Extra grip comes from the popular Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-performance tires designed specifically for the Shelby GT350R. With this expect unrivaled performance on the street and on track.
Weight is the enemy, so Ford engineers did a gut job on the R-model, chucking the air conditioning, the stereo system, rear seats, trunk floorboard and carpet, backup camera and emergency tire sealer and inflator. Exhaust resonators also have been removed for weight savings with the benefit of creating a sharper exhaust tone. Jenny Craig would be thrilled with the 130-pound reduction (when compared to the Shelby GT350 Track Pack model). If you’re not quite so hardcore, Ford is offering an optional Electronics Package that includes dual-zone air conditioning, 8-inch touch screen with navigation, seven-speaker audio system, turn signal mirrors and more.
Clearly, Ford was not shy about how it would direct air around the Shelby GT350R. in an effort to reduce drag and create downforce, it sports a revised front splitter, a large carbon fiber rear spoiler, plus a hood vent for heat extraction and lift reduction, fore and aft belly pans, an aggressive diffuser, and vented wheel wells with turbulence-reducing fender vents.
According to Ford, “The wing moves the vehicle’s center of pressure rearward while improving downforce and lift balance – ideal for high-speed track work. Shelby GT350R’s highly efficient aerodynamics, innovative light-weighting and world-class chassis deliver a truly spectacular driving experience that makes you feel like a professional racing driver,” said Kerry Baldori, Ford Performance chief functional engineer.
While supercharging was a staple of the Ford performance diet since 1999, it’s gone for 2015. EcoBoost turbocharged power is in, but engineers decided on something different for the GT350. Sticking with naturally aspirated V8 power, they jacked the displacement of the venerable 5.0 to 5.2-liters and slipped in a flat-plane crankshaft. Combined with revised heads, cams and intake, the 5.2 is most powerful naturally aspirated production Ford engine ever. Ford stated it will develop more than 500 horsepower and more than 400 lb.-ft. of torque.
GT350R gets an air-to-oil engine oil cooler, typically found only on race cars, which maintains engine temperatures under the most severe conditions, as does a standard cooler for the six-speed manual transmission. The driveline consists of a “tuned” limited-slip Torsen differential with 3.73 performance axle ratio. The package is optimized for cornering grip and straight-line traction, while an electronically modulated rear-mounted air-to-oil differential cooler maintains ideal temperatures during track driving. That’s some serious track goodness.
Lastly, exterior touches include red painted brake calipers, red pin striping at the edges of the optional over-the-top racing stripes and Shelby GT350R badging. Inside is high-contrast red stitching, Shelby GT350R badging and the D-shaped steering wheel fitted with a red center mark at the top. The limited-production Shelby GT350R will be available in the United States and Canada later this year, and is one of more than 12 new Ford Performance vehicles coming by 2020.
“This is the pinnacle of performance Mustangs today,” said Dave Pericak, director, Ford Performance. “The Shelby GT350R Mustang lays the groundwork for a story that will play out for years to come on the track and the street.”