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FIRST LOOK: Shelby GT350 Mustang

Ford refers to the new Shelby GT350 as “an all-day track car that is also street legal”

Published: November 17, 2014, 3:40 PM
Updated: May 15, 2018, 8:42 PM

Ford Mustang GT350

Hard on the heels of the completely re-engineered sixth-generation 2015 Mustang, comes word that Ford Motor Company is bringing back the notorious Shelby GT 350 version.

First introduced in 1965, the Shelby GT350 put Mustang on the performance map. The 2015 version will certainly keep it there with the most powerful normally-aspirated V-8 in Ford’s history.

The most “track-capable” braking system Ford has ever installed on a production vehicle will erase the speeds that engine is capable of generating and a thoroughly revised, platform, suspension and steering system will ensure the new Shelby GT350 is capable of serious track duty.

Production engine first

The engine is a first for Ford and for any American car maker for that matter: a high-revving flat-plane-crankshaft V-8. Displacing 5.2 litres, this unique and entirely new power plant will produce “more than” 500-horsepower – actual figures to be released later today.

The engine is essentially all-new and unique to the Shelby. The use of a flat-plane crankshaft is normally reserved for racing engines. In a conventional V-8 the connecting rods are attached to the crankshaft at 90-degree intervals. In this new engine they are at 180-degress.

The advantage is that the resultant firing order permits better breathing and a very distinctive exhaust note from four large pipes. The engine also gets a unique cylinder-head and valve train advancements.

The new engine is designed to have an exceptionally broad torque curve, peaking at more than 400 lb-ft. Combined with the engine's high-revving capability, that massive torque output will give the driver a great deal of flexibility.

The engine is mated to a lightweight six-speed manual gearbox sending power through a specifically-tuned Torsen limited slip differential.

Powerful braking

Because of the extreme speeds the Shelby is capable of and the likelihood it will be used on the track, braking performance has been taken to new heights. In terms of pure stopping power, resistance to fade and feel the Shelby has the most powerful braking system ever offered on a Ford vehicle.

Two-piece cross-drilled iron discs are mounted on an aluminum “hat”. The giant, wheel-filling units are 392-mm up front, clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers while the 380-mm rears use four-piston calipers.

Inside the wider wheel arches are unique 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels – 10.5-inches wide in front and 11-inches wide in the rear. They are wrapped in ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport high performance tires specifically designed for the Shelby with unique sidewall construction, compound and tread.

The new 2015 Mustang is already the strongest in the 50-year history of the brand. Stiffness is further improved on the Shelby thanks to an injection-molded carbon fibre composite grille enclosure, and an optional strut tower brace.

The Shelby sits up to 5-cm lower than the Mustang GT, the front track is wider and both spring rates and bushing stiffness are tuned to this car.

MagneRide shock absorbers

The new Shelby will have Ford’s first application of MagneRide shock absorbers. First developed by Delphi for high performance versions of the Corvette, they have become common fare on high end exotic European sports cars. 

The shocks use a hydraulic fluid filled with magnetic particles which react to an electric current, changing the viscosity of the fluid instantaneously. Changes to each individual shock, and thus to each corner or the car, can occur as often as every 10 milliseconds.

The Shelby also benefits from extensive wind tunnel time. Every panel ahead of the windshield is unique, including the recontoured aluminum front fenders and hood, the carbon-fibre grille surround and a lower front splitter.

There is a ducted belly pan to control air movement beneath the car, outlets on the hood to extract heat and reduce lift at high speeds and vents in the fenders and inner liners to pull out turbulent air and direct it down the side of the car for maximum aero effect.

The grille has different openings to feed cool air to the radiator, engine, front brakes and the oil and transmission coolers available with the track pack.

 At the other end, a carefully-crafted diffuser increases downforce while ensuring a flow of cooling air to the available differential cooler.

Purposeful interior

The interior of the Shelby GT350 gets special Recaro seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, upgraded instrumentation and reduced levels of chrome and other bling as befits a car intended for high performance where distractions are most unwelcome.

An integrated control system lets the driver select from five modes that alter ABS, stability control, traction control, steering heft, throttle response, shock tuning and exhaust sound. 

Raj Nair, group vice-president, Global Product Development at Ford says development of the new Shelby GT350 was driven by the requirement for “a powerful, responsive power plant, nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power.” Ford refers to the new Shelby as “an all-day track car that is also street legal.”