A flat crankshaft may seem like an incurable engine malady to the casual observer, but to the cognoscenti of high performance V8s it's a key element in a powerplant designed to deliver big horsepower. Due in 2016, it's also a technology that will be the centerpiece of the engine that will power the next Ford Shelby GT350 and GT350R.

Ford has dropped supercharging for this renewal in favor of a naturally aspirated engine that produces more horsepower per liter-102-than any non-turbo street legal engine in the company's history, as well as the highest rev limit of any production V8 in Ford's 83-year history with V8 engines: 8250 rpm.

That horsepower-per-liter number works out to 526 hp at 7500 rpm, and torque is rated as 429 pound-feet at 4750 rpm, with a broad, flat curve that includes 90 percent of peak between 3450 and 7000 rpm. All of which adds up to the most powerful naturally aspirated production Ford V8 ever.

Voodoo magic

And while auditory gratification is hard to quantify, the engine's exhaust note is sure to raise goose bumps on those with a need for speed. Ford insiders refer to the engine as "Voodoo," and its sound alone justifies the nickname.

As noted, a central element in the engine's high-performance resume is its flat-plane crankshaft, meaning the crank throws are arranged 180 degrees apart, as distinct from the 90-degree angle of most V8 engines. The primary benefit: a flat crank requires no counterweights for balance, allowing higher revs, more quickly achieved.

The crank is forged steel, and drilled for lightness. It's mated with forged steel connecting rods, forged pistons, and ultra-thin low tension piston rings.

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Built alongside standard V-8s, but different

Although it will be built on the same assembly line as the Mustang's 5.0-liter V8, the only commonality between the 5.0 and the GT350 engine is their bore centers and DOHC design. Bore and stroke in the 5.0 are equal at 92.7 mm, whereas the Voodoo V8 is slightly oversquare-93 mm bore, 92 mm stroke-yielding a displacement of 5163 cc (5.2 liters), versus 4951.

Other go-faster elements of this all-new engine include bigger intake and exhaust ports, bigger valves, and a sophisticated exhaust system with stainless steel headers. The engine features a dual mass flywheel and a twin-disc competition clutch, mated with a Tremec TR-160 six-speed manual transmission.

Mission accomplished

According to Ford Performance chief engineer Jamal Hameedi, the GT350's new 5.2-liter flat-crank V8 "delivers on every target we set-high horsepower, broad torque curve, aggressive throttle response, and light weight."

Merely listening to the engine as it soars toward that lofty redline makes Hameedi's assertion seem wholly credible.

Other than to say the new GT350 and GT350R will be on sale in 2016, Ford is vague about the exact date. However, prices are expected to be about $48,000 for the GT350, and $65,000 for the race-ready R version.

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