Responding to market demand for both a more street friendly and a race-legal variation on the basic GT350 theme, Shelby American will give buyers of 2011 editions of its high-performance Mustang the choice of opting for both a naturally aspirated version and an automatic transmission. However, the existing GT350, which comes with a supercharged engine and six-speed manual transmission, will continue to anchor the lineup.
According to Shelby American Founder, Carroll Shelby, one of the key reasons for this expansion was buyers saying they wanted to race these factory-blessed Shelbys in various Sports Car Club of America events -- and the SCCA rules that preclude eligibility for vehicles with "post-title added" force-fed engines. The other motivating factor was that the less competitively inclined simply wanted a GT350 with an automatic transmission. Unfortunately, the 500-horsepower of the Whipple-supercharged 5.0-liter V8 in the standard GT350 puts a bit too much strain on Ford's current six-speed autoshifter, but it can survive the anticipated 450-horse output of the naturally aspirated engine -- which will still be available with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard.
Save for its powertrain changes, the non-supercharged GT350 with either transmission will come with the same cosmetic and functional upgrades as the more potent blown model. A collective effort that involved Ford Racing, Borla, Goodyear and Baer, John Luft Shelby president, says this naturally aspirated Shelby GT350 will be sweet on the street and should be "competitive right out of the box" in race trim. Opting for a non-blown upfit package will trim $7,000 off of the existing GT350's $33,995 sticker price -- although you still do have to supply Shelby's troops with a new Mustang GT for the transformation. "We plan to have development finished and begin building normally aspirated versions of the GT350 by late summer," said Shelby American Vice President of production Gary Davis.