One of the most famous performance Mustang nameplates is returning, Ford confirmed today with the reveal of the all-new Shelby GT350 Mustang.
The original Shelby GT350 was introduced all the way back in 1965. Based on the new sixth-generation Mustang, the latest version features the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever.
“The final product is essentially an all-new powerplant unique to GT350 – and one that takes true advantage of the new chassis dynamics of the Mustang platform,” said Ford engineer, Jamal Hameedi.
The new 5.2-litre engine is the first-ever production V8 from Ford with a flat-plane crankshaft, an architecture typically found only in racing applications or exotic European sports cars. Unlike a traditional V8, where the connecting rods are attached to the crankshaft at 90-degree intervals, this design evenly spaces all crank pins at 180-degree intervals.
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.
The result is the most powerful naturally aspirated production Ford engine ever, at more than 500 horsepower, with a torque peak above 400 lb-ft. The engined is matched to a six-speed manual transmission, while a standard Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential is included to improve cornering grip and straight-line traction.
The new Mustang platform is said to be the strongest in the history of the brand, with torsional stiffness increased 28 per cent over the previous model. Front stiffness is further improved on the GT350 with a new injection-molded carbon-fibre composite grille opening. The front track has been increased while spring rates and bushings have been recalibrated all around, with ride height reduced compared to the Mustang GT.
Due to the increased speeds the car can develop, the GT350 features the most track-credible brake system ever offered on a Ford vehicle. The brakes are two-piece cross-drilled iron discs mounted to aluminium hats. At the front are 394 mm rotors clamped by Brembo six-piston fixed calipers with integrated caliper bridges, while 380 mm rotors at the rear utilise four-piston calipers.
The GT350 makes use of extra-stiff 19-inch aluminium-alloy wheels – 10.5 inches wide in front, 11.0 inches in the rear – clad in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres with GT350-specific sidewall construction, tread face and compound.
The car also sees the first-ever Ford application of continuously controlled MagneRide dampers.
“Everything we changed on GT350 is purely functional-driven design, with the goal of improving the overall performance of the car,” said Chris Svensson, Ford USA’s design director. “We optimised the aero shape of the car, and then fine-tuned what was left to increase downforce and cooling airflow.”
All bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to the GT350 and up to two inches lower than Mustang GT. For example, the new aluminium hood has been lowered and sloped, compared to the base model. The fascia has also been resculpted to provide the lower front splitter with increased pressure and a ducted belly pan delivers more downforce. The hood outlet, meanwhile, acts as a heat extractor while also reducing underhood lift at high speed. At the rear, much of the engineering was focused on creating an aggressive functional diffuser doing double duty to increase downforce and provide cooling air to the optional differential cooler, and a lip spoiler across the trailing edge of the decklid increases downforce without adding excess drag.
On the inside, the GT350 gets specially designed Recaro sport seats and a flat-bottom steering wheel. The gauges have also been revised while chrome and bright finishes have been reduced or eliminated to prevent sun glare.
The car also features an all-new integrated driver control system, enabling the driver to select five different modes that tailor ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings.