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A Legend Returns: The 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350




I feel like a kid on Halloween night who has just been told he can eat all his candy that night. Or even better, it's Christmas morning and all the gifts under the Christmas tree are mine. I don't even know why because It's not like I can buy this anytime soon but I'm getting all giddy just reading about it. Meet the Mustang Shelby GT350; the return of a legendary name.




There has been many rumours about this flat-plane crank 5.2L V8 "Voodoo" engine that's naturally aspirated. The rumours are true. It has an 8,200 rpm redline. If that's not impressive enough for you, consider this. This a V8. A big V8, not a V10 or V12. It's a 5.2 litre V8. Ford said it will have more than 500 hp. I expect it will be between 510-520 hp. GM said that the LS7 they're dropping in the Camaro Z/28 will have more than 500 hp and ended up with exactly the same amount as the C6 Corvette Z06, 505 hp. The GT350 shouldn't be aimed at the Z/28 as it should be more street friendly but I suspect Ford will still want to one-up the hp figure. That means as close as makes no difference, 100 hp per litre. Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer of Ford Global Performance Vehicles said: “Make no mistake, this is an American interpretation of a flat-plane crankshaft V8, and the 5.2-liter produces a distinctive, throaty howl from its four exhaust tips.”

For those who don't know why a flat-plane crank shaft is special, a short and sweet explanation is given in the press release: "The 180-degree, flat-plane layout permits a cylinder firing order that alternates between cylinder banks, reducing the overlap of exhaust pressure pulses. When combined with cylinder-head and valvetrain advancements, this permits better cylinder breathing, further extending the performance envelope of the V8."

All this American muscle goodness will be routed through a light-weight six speed manual transmission. Helping put the power to the ground as a Ford Racing Torsen limited slip differential. The one that was put in the Boss 302 made a huge difference in corner exit speed and this one will no doubt make excellent use of this car's power. 8,200 rpm, big naturally aspirated V8, more than 500 hp, six speed manual and a Torsen limited slip differential. Awesome.

More interesting bits include an injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening that's said to improve stiffness and an optional lightweight tower-to-tower brace. Ford has also finally agreed to put proper sized wheels under its cars with 10.5 inches wide front and 11 inches wide rear wheels. The wheels are extra stiff and light weight 19 inches alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The tires are designed specifically for the GT350 with unique sidewall construction, tread face and compound. Bringing all this to a halt are 15.5 (394-millimeter) inch discs up front clamped by 6 piston Brembo callipers and 15.0 inch (380-millimeter) discs at the rear clamped by 4 piston callipers.




Rounding off the suspension upgrades are recalibrated springs and bushings, lowered ride height, widened front and rear tracks and, for the first time, magnetorheological shocks or MagneRide dampers in Ford speak, like the ones used on Cadillacs, Corvettes and the Camaro ZL1. The shocks are said to be capable of responding to road conditions every 10 milliseconds.




On the outside, the bodywork is unique from the A-pillars forward with a new new aluminum hood that has been lowered and sloped, compared to the base Mustang. It is tightly wrapped around the engine for the smallest possible aerodynamic signature. The fascia has been resculpted to provide the aggressive lower front splitter with maximum pressure. The belly pan is ducted to deliver significant downforce. The hood outlet acts as a heat extractor while also reducing underhood lift at high speed. A functional rear diffuser sits between the quad exhaust tips and increases downforce while providing cooling air to the optional differential cooler. A lip spoiler increases downforce without adding drag. Front fender vents flank the wider front fenders to draw out turbulent air in the wheel wells and smoothly direct it down the side of the car. The grille is designed with individual openings to draw air through the radiator, high-pressure engine air intake, cooling ducts for the front brakes and, optional with the Track Pack, an engine oil cooler and a transmission cooler.




New Recaro sport seats that are different from the ones that were used in the Boss 302 and GT500 are found in the interior and should be equally at home serving daily driving duties or track excursions. Further improving ergonomics is a flat-bottom steering wheel that replaces the standard one and Ford even went so far as reducing or eliminating chrome and bright finishes to prevent sun glare that may distract the driver. A new driver control system allows selection of five unique modes. ChangIng modes affects ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings. 

Those who aren't looking for just performance can check the box next to the Tech Pack. This adds power, leather-trimmed seats, Shaker Audio, 8-inch MyFord Touch® LCD touch screen, dual zone electronic temperature control, and more features. I expect all the new tech and added features should make this car about 200-300 lb. heavier than a Boss 302 but it should have the power and suspension to easily deal with the added weight. I suspect this will post a best lap time of 2:55-2:57 at VIR in next year's Car and Driver's Lightning Lap. I can't wait to see it. For now, here's a video where you can hear that V8 sing..




I wish I could walk to the local dealership and ask them to give me a call as soon as ordering is available. I don't want to give up on (i.e. trade) my Boss 302 yet so it will be a very long time before I can have one. Here's hoping +Ford Motor Company brings a demo out here to the Maritimes and I get to take it out for a test drive, or even better, take it to the track and compare it to the Boss. I'll have one with the Track Pack please. For more information, you can visit Ford's official release: SHELBY GT350 MUSTANG.


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