Ford Unveils A Legend: The Shelby GT350
Riding on the iconic namplate, Ford unveils a legend: the Shelby GT350. Mustang enthusiasts have speculated the return of the GT350 was near, and now we’ve got a first look at what is sure to become an instant classic.
In contrast to the outgoing GT500, with its 662 horsepower supercharged V8, the all-new GT350 gets it done with a 5.2L version of the popular Coyote. The enlarged Coyote features the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever, with a flat-plane crank and over 500 horsepower!
“The new GT350 builds on Carroll Shelby’s original idea—transforming a great every-day car into a dominant road racer—by taking advantage of a dramatically improved sixth-generation Mustang to create a truly special driving experience. Driving enthusiasts can expect to be treated to the most balanced, nimble and exhilarating production Mustang yet,” said Ford.
“When we started working on this car, we wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive – challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes – and the track on weekends,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant—nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power.”
Tuned Ford The Track
Ford’s SVT engineers went in a different direction with the engine when they eschewed boost in favor of a high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 engine would be best-suited for the open track.
“The final product is essentially an all-new powerplant unique to GT350—and one that takes true advantage of the new chassis dynamics of the Mustang platform,” said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Global Performance Vehicles.
He continued, “The new 5.2-liter engine is the first-ever production V8 from Ford with a flat-plane crankshaft, an architecture typically found only in racing applications or exotic European sports cars. Unlike a traditional V8, where the connecting rods are attached to the crankshaft at 90-degree intervals, this design evenly spaces all crank pins at 180-degree intervals. The 180-degree, flat-plane layout permits a cylinder firing order that alternates between cylinder banks, reducing the overlap of exhaust pressure pulses. When combined with cylinder-head and valvetrain advancements, this permits better cylinder breathing, further extending the performance envelope of the V8,” added Hameedi.
This will result in a 5.2L engine slated to produce upwards of 520 horsepower, and more than 400 lb-ft of torque. We’re also expecting the “Voodoo” powerplant to be a rev-happy mofo, exceeding 8,200 rpm! This will gives drivers a wide range of performance performance and when running the lightweight six-speed manual transmission through the gears. A Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential will optimize cornering grip and straight-line traction.
“Make no mistake, this is an American interpretation of a flat-plane crankshaft V8, and the 5.2L produces a distinctive, throaty howl from its four exhaust tips,” said Hameedi.
Clearly, the S550 Mustang chassis is the stiffest yet: torsional stiffness is increased 28 percent over the S197. What this amounts to is that the suspension geometry remains consistent, even under hard driving. You’ll find a cutting-edge injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening and optional lightweight tower-to-tower brace. The front track has been increased, naturally spring rates and bushings have been enhanced, with ride height reduced compared to Mustang GT.
In true race fashion, unsprung mass is reduced, this improves response. “Due to the significant speeds the car can develop, GT350 features the most track-credible brake system ever offered on a Ford vehicle in terms of absolute stopping power, fade resistance and brake pedal feel,” said Hameedi. “The brakes are two-piece cross-drilled iron discs mounted to aluminum hats. At the front are massive 394-millimeter rotors clamped by Brembo six-piston fixed calipers with integrated caliper bridges, while 380-millimeter rotors at the rear utilize four-piston calipers.”
You’ll also find 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels that are designed to be stiff and light. They measure 10.5-inches wide in front, 11.0-inches in the rear, and they are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires with GT350-specific sidewall construction, tread face and compound. You can expect maximum grip on the road or at the track.
Another hot, new item is the MagneRide dampers. This is a first for Ford, as the dampers are filled with a hydraulic fluid impregnated with iron particles; when an electric current is passed through the fluid, a near-instant adjustment of the suspension performance can be made. “With wheel position sensors monitoring motion thousands of times per second combined with other vehicle data, changes can be made to each corner independently every 10 milliseconds for optimum handling performance. This is a system designed not just to make the car handle better but to instill greater confidence in even the best driver,” said our source.
No Stone Unturned
“Everything we changed on GT350 is purely functional-driven design, with the goal of improving the overall performance of the car,” said Chris Svensson, Ford design director, The Americas. “We optimized the aero shape of the car, and then fine-tuned what was left to increase downforce and cooling airflow. All bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to this high- performance model and up to two inches lower than Mustang GT.”
You’ll see a new aluminum hood that’s lowered and sloped. Both front and rear aero is optimized for a real track attack. The nose has was resculpted to with an aggressive lower front splitter with maximum pressure and a ducted belly pan that delivers significant downforce. An outlet in the hood extracts heat from under the hood, while also reducing underhood lift at high speed. Out back, the engineering team creating an aggressive functional diffuser, which does double duty to increase downforce and provide cooling air to the optional differential cooler. There’s also a subtle lip spoiler across the trailing edge of the decklid that increases downforce without adding excess drag.
Clearly, the GT350 has a mean stance. The aluminum front fenders flex out to accommodate the wider front track and wider wheel arches. Plus, fender vents work with vented inner fenders to draw out turbulent air in the wheel wells and smoothly direct it down the side of the car. This is real race car stuff. There is a high-pressure engine air intake, cooling ducts for the front brakes and, optional with the Track Pack, an engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler.
The GT350 is all about optimizing performance, so Ford designed an all-new set of Recaro sport seats with a unique material. According to Ford, hundreds of hours and many prototypes went into a seat that is both comfortable for daily driving, yet keeps you firmly in place on track. Ford also added a flat-bottom steering wheel to make it easier for the driver to get in and out—and is more ergonomic on the racetrack. Chrome and bright finishes have been reduced or eliminated on the gauges to prevent sun glare that may distract the driver.
And there is even more technology than the standard Mustangs. Ford stated there is an all-new integrated driver control system, that allows selection of five unique modes that tailor ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings, depending on driver preference. This will suit the an individual’s driving style to help them reach the performance level of the Shelby GT350.
If comfort, convenience and entertainment is your thing, select the Tech Pack, which includes power, leather-trimmed seats; Shaker Audio; 8-inch MyFord Touch® LCD touch screen; and dual zone electronic temperature control, to name a few features.
“We took the best Ford Mustang yet and massaged every aspect of the car that affects the performance driving experience,” said Hameedi. “We tested endlessly on the most challenging roads and tracks in the world, and we believe serious drivers will love the Shelby GT350 Mustang.”
We’re also speculating that Ford will release a “R” version in the not-so-far-out future, with lighter weight, better brakes, stickier tires and more track capability. Pricing has not yet been announced, but don’t expect it to break the bank, we’re guessing the Shelby GT350 will be priced under $50,000.
Ford Mustang: 50 Years of American Icon
The Shelby GT350 Mustang is Ford’s latest and second “feature car” behind the Mustang the specially designed 50th Anniversary Edition Mustang. To date, Ford has produced over 9.2 million Mustangs since the car’s 1964 debut.
With the GT350, Ford adds to the stable yet another option for enthusiasts to find a Stang to fit any lifestyle. Mustang engines deliver from 300-500 horsepower and they do so with economy, turbo technology in the EcoBoost 2.3L Mustang engine and with the sound that you love to hear.