The high-performance icon of American engineering, the Ford Shelby Mustang GT350, returns to the auto world by first making a dramatic series of videos right before the Los Angeles Auto Show. Based on the 2015 Mustang, the 2016 Shelby makes its first appearance this year after being pulled out of production early in 2014.
This new model follows the previous tradition of being a street-legal sports car with the exciting attributes of a racer. It officially unveiled today at the future site of the Carroll Shelby museum in Gardena. After that initial introduction, it traveled to the Los Angeles Auto Show to present its track-centered street-friendly persona to an eager audience.
Known best as the Shelby GT350, the 2016 version offers a 5.2-liter V8 engine with an estimated over 500 horsepower. Working strictly on the numbers, it appears less powerful than the Shelby GT500 taken out of production but offers a superior suspension system with finally tuned handling. The most unique feature of its new engine is a flat-plane crankshaft present in many European exotics but not American street cars. This design allows for higher torque and quicker acceleration.
Regarding handling, the new suspension automatically adjusts to driving style by softening or stiffening depending on conditions. Drivers can select from five modes that adjust pedal response, steering, and suspension. It comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission. Brembo brakes, 19-inch aluminum alloy wheels, and customized Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires create maximum road grip.
In its dramatic return, the new Ford Shelby Mustang makes a new exterior impression with a wider more aerodynamic body that better accommodates the larger tire size. Ford also lowered the frame by two inches for better center of gravity and added additional cooling vents.
Interior highlights include improved gauges, a flat-bottomed steering wheel, and Recaro sport seats. Designers even reduced chrome trim for a cleaner, less-distracting and utilitarian look.
Raj Neer, former auto racer turned Ford’s head of Global Product Development, stated, “When we started working on this car, we wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive—challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes—and the track on weekends.”
The original Shelby GT350 idea was conceived by Carroll Shelby who ran a shop in LA. After leaving auto racing due to a heart problem, he sought to design a track car that resembled the European brands he used to drive while remaining street legal. He started with a compact V8 that could fit in a lighter racing frame and marketed the idea to Ford and Chevrolet. Ford, which did not have a well-known sports car model at the time, was very receptive to Shelby’s ideas. After several prototypes and a series of fast-moving experiments, the original Shelby GT350 was born in 1965. To this day, the Shelby Mustang is the name in street-legal track cars.
Although the making of this dramatic return is presumed widely anticipated and welcome, Ford has not offered any definitive sales date for the new Shelby Mustang model. A Mustang GT for 2016 is priced at $44,000, while it is expected that the reintroduced addition will cost much more.
By Jocelyn S. Mackie
Photos Courtesy of Ford Motor Co.