2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang: An icon returns

By Bob Nagy on November 19, 2014 7:08 AM

One of the most legendary performance cars makes a world-class return to the center stage in Los Angeles. Set to launch next year, the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 carries on in the tradition of its revered namesake which was introduced back in 1965. Created to leverage the performance potential in the new Mustang, this reborn GT350 matches aggressive styling with a 500+ horsepower V8 and a precision-tuned chassis that push the limits at every level. 

"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 was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant - nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power."

Quicker by design

The heart of the new Shelby GT350 Mustang is a new 5.2-liter naturally aspirated V8 with a racing-style flat-plane crankshaft that enhances the firing process complemented by optimized cylinder-head and valvetrain designs. While final output is pending, Ford says this free-revving monster will comfortably exceed 500 horses, making it the firm's most powerful non-force-fed production engine ever. It also features a broad torque band with a peak on the far side of 400 lb-ft. That force is sent through a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission to the rear wheels via a Torsen limited-slip differential

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Moving multiple steps beyond the 2015 Mustang's already well-sorted fully-independent suspension, the Shelby GT350's underpinnings bring a host of upgrades that include a wider front track, lower ride height, stiffer springs, recalibrated suspension bushings and Ford's first-ever use of continuously controlled magneto-rheological MagneRide dampers that fine-tune response at each wheel thousands of times per second. Formidable stopping power is supplied by Brembo brakes while extra-stiff, staggered-width 19-inch light alloy wheels wrapped in GT350-specific Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires provide the ultimate in grip.

The new face of fast 

The new 2016 Shelby GT350 also looks the part of a world beater thanks to its function-driven exterior remake. All of the body panels from the A-pillar forward are unique and crafted from lightweight aluminum. The GT350's aerodynamic front fascia works with a ducted belly pan that improves downforce while a slot in the hood acts as a heat extractor and fender vents smooth the flow of air from the wheelwells. The tail of the Shelby GT350 pairs a modest but effective spoiler lip with a custom diffuser that increases downforce and also helps channel air to the differential cooler that's available as part of a Track Pack option, a package includes engine oil and transmission coolers.

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The go-faster theme is equally evident in the GT350's cabin where Recaro sport seats are teamed with a flat-bottom steering wheel, an upgraded instrument cluster surrounded by a low-glare bezel and a new 5-mode driver control system that offers custom setting choices for the ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide shock tuning and exhaust note. For those seeking a bit more comfort and convenience, the optional Tech Pack adds leather-trimmed power seats, MyFord Touch, a Shaker Audio package, dual-zone climate control and more.

"We took the best Ford Mustang yet and massaged every aspect of the car that affects the performance driving experience," said Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Global Performance Vehicles. "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 suspect he's right. 

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