Article by Anthony Alaniz. Images and video by Ford Media.
With every new Mustang, the latest generation now hitting dealership lots, comes a slew of specialty pony cars from the likes of Roush, Saleen and Hennessey. But the one that garners the most press is the creation that comes from the garage of Carroll Shelby—rest his soul.
A day ahead of the official start of the Los Angeles Auto Show, Ford has dropped the Shelby hammer with the unveiling of the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and many of its salacious details. Think of it as the Boss 302 reincarnate.
The GT350 has a storied history and is a nameplate that carries a lot of expectation, which is why Ford has nestled a naturally aspirated, 500-plus horsepowered, 5.2-liter flat-plane V-8 engine under the hood.
The flat-plane design is a large performance step for Ford and the Mustang. The design, typically found on cars such as Ferraris, spaces all crank pins at 180-degree intervals, which allows the firing order to alternate between cylinder banks, and reduces exhaust pressure pulses.
Specific performance details are still unknown, Ford only alluding to a 500-horsepower output with over 400 lb-ft of torque. The automaker also said the engine is high-revving (8,200 rpm redline?) with a broad torque curve. Power is routed through a lightweight six-speed manual and Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential.
While all that power is nice, it is only useful if the car can handle well, and Ford understand stands that, implementing Ford’s first-ever application of controlled MagneRide dampers, which allow changes to each individual damper to occur every 10 milliseconds.
Those dampers connect the 28-percent stiffer chassis to 10.5-inch front and 11-inch rear wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires designed with GT350-specific sidewall construction, tread face and tire compound.
Aesthetically, everything from the windshield forward is unique to the GT350 model, sitting two inches lower than a standard GT. The aluminum hood is lowered to sit tightly over the engine to increase aerodynamics.
Downforce is key throughout the front and rear fascias design, with a functional front splitter and rear diffuser standard. The hood acts as a heat extractor while reducing under-hood lift at high speeds. As one of the interviewees state in the video below, "It really has been designed and not styled.” One hell of a statement from Ford!
The most noticeable difference upfront is the front fenders that now accommodate a wider front tack and wheel arches, with fender vents working to draw out turbulent air in the wheel wells.
A Tack Pack will be offered that adds an engine oil and transmission cooler to the already standard high-pressure air intake and cooling ducts for the front brakes.
Inside, the GT350 receives Recaro sports seats specially designed for the car, along with a flat-bottom steering wheel for better ingress and egress. Chrome accents and other bright interior bits have been reduced or eliminated to prevent distracting glare.
For those looking for a daily oriented GT350, a Tech Pack will be offered. This includes leather-trimmed, powered seats; MyFord Touch; dual-zone climate control; and Shaker Audio system.