Few figures in the performance end of automotive history approach the celebrated status of Carroll Shelby. No one else has had such a tight kinship to Ford, and especially to the Mustang. Sadly, Shelby passed away in 2012, shortly before the launch of the sixth-generation Mustang.
Helping to commemorate Shelby’s legacy as a motorsports legend and celebrated tuner, Ford is introducing the first factory-produced Shelby GT350 since the 1960s. Featuring performance upgrades in every detail, the 2016 GT350 qualifies a track-ready special.
What's New for 2016
Based upon the current Mustang, but with a far more powerful engine and a long list of performance modifications, the Shelby GT350 is a brand-new model.
Choosing Your Ford Shelby GT350
The original GT350, introduced in 1965, exemplified the view that a Mustang could do far more than excel in straight-line drag racing. The 2016 GT350 arrives soon after the Mustang shifted to a fully independent rear suspension. This gave engineers an ideal chassis for race-readiness, to compete against such performance machines as BMW M4 and Chevrolet Corvette.
The GT350’s 5.2-liter V8 has little in common with the 5-liter used in the Mustang GT. In fact, its basic configuration is closer to Ferrari than to Ford, resulting in smooth power delivery and a redline past 8,000 rpm. Cranking out 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, the V8 is Ford’s most powerful engine ever. A six-speed manual gearbox sends all that energy to the rear wheels, via a Torsen limited-sip differential.
A new MagneRide continuously-controlled magneto-rheological damping system can vary shock absorber stiffness at each wheel every 10 milliseconds. Five driver-selectable modes alter traction and stability control response, throttle input, ABS programming, and exhaust geometry.
Up front, the GT350 shares no body panels with standard Mustangs, sporting an aluminum front end with a deep airdam. Front track has been widened, while 19x10-inch (front) and 19x11-inch (rear) lightweight wheels hold Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires with an exclusive tread pattern. Shelby racing stripes are included, of course.
The cockpit is spartan, deleting chrome brightwork while adding deeply-bolstered Recaro bucket seats and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. An optional Tech Package can add SYNC infotainment, leather-upholstered power seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, and a Shaker audio system.
Pricing begins at $49,995 including a $1,300 gas guzzler tax and $900 destination charge. During 2016, Ford expects to release a factory-built Shelby GT500, packing even more power.
Obviously, a Shelby GT350 isn’t a car for everyone, or even for every enthusiast. Considering all the technical achievement that goes into each GT350, however, not to mention its exclusivity, that $50,000 sticker price doesn’t sound excessive at all.