Carroll Shelby was known for his hard racing and strong relationship with the Ford Motor Company. This partnership created some of the most iconic automobiles in American history. The four cars that truly defined Shelby and Ford were the Cobra, the Daytona, the GT 40 and the most hard-core, track oriented Mustang ever, the GT 350.
The last Mustang wearing the GT 350 badge left Shelby Automobiles nearly half a century ago. Since then, many other Mustangs like the Boss 302, various SVT and Saleen derivatives have quenched the desires of Ford fans who demanded a hard-core, track oriented Mustang. With the launch of the brand new Mustang, Ford Motor Company celebrated the 50th anniversary of the most iconic nameplate in the automotive history. But, this was not the only major announcement for the die-hard Mustang fans worldwide. Last week at the Los Angles International Auto Show, Ford unveiled the most anticipated and iconic model in the Mustang history, the Shelby GT 350, and the camera flashes went wild.
The last generation Shelby GT 500 was built for the quarter-mile, rather than the twists and turns of a racetrack thanks in part to a monstrous, 662 horsepower, supercharged V8, which was able to propel the GT 500 to a claimed top speed of 202 mph. When the designers began to develop the new GT 350, they focused more on the formula that made the original GT 350 such a legend on the racetrack. The new GT 350 is powered by a naturally aspirated, flat-plane crankshaft (a design mostly used by Ferrari), 5.2 liter V8, which is capable of producing more than 500 horsepower and 400 lb.ft of torque. For comparison, the last naturally aspirated Mustang, the 2012 Boss 302, generated 444 horsepower and 398 lb.ft of torque from a 5.0 liter V8.
The task of putting all that power to the tarmac is made easier thanks to new chassis, which uses new independent rear suspension, instead of the solid, live rear axle used in the earlier generations of the Mustang. For the first time in the history of the Mustang, Ford is using the MagneRide shocks which constantly adjust the damping of the shock absorbers based on the load and the road surface condition. These adjustable shocks are usually found on certain GM models like the Camaro Z/28 and Corvette and many Ferrari models. To make the GT 350 the most track worthy Mustang, Ford engineers have also widened the front track and have lowered the car to an unspecified amount. The GT 350 uses 2-piece iron rotors with aluminum heads instead of the carbon ceramic rotors used by its main competitors. Regardless of the difference, Ford engineers promise a very strong and quick deceleration from its brakes. Compared to the Mustang GT, the Shelby uses a larger 15.5 inch rotors up front and 15,0 inch rotors in the back. The front rotors are clamped by six-piston Brembo calipers, while the rear units are clamped by four-piston Brembo calipers. To end the chassis enhancements, the GT 350 comes standard with 19×10.5 inch rims up front and 19×11 inch rims in the back, all wrapped in specially designed Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
The moment the door opens, drivers enter into an interior that is purely designed for speed. The standard seats are Recaro race buckets covered d in gray, Alcantara like material. The steering wheel is a race car inspired, flat bottom unit, again covered in a similar material as the seats. If customers want a little more luxury feel in their GT 350, an additional technology package adds powered leather seats, Ford’s myfordtouch system, a larger touchscreen and various other features for a price that was unavailable at the moment.
The 2016 Shelby GT 350 is a true descendant of the original GT 350 created by the legend himself, Carroll Shelby. Even though Shelby is no longer among us, his legacy lives on through special performance models like the GT 350 and the GT 500. After all, Shelby built his company based on performance and the new GT 350 from Ford is an ideal tribute to the man who, with his alliance with Ford, dominated the European sports car scene and defeated Enzo Ferrari in his own game, with these modified speed demons.
Images sourced from Ford Motor Company and CAR&DRIVER