Dearborn, Michigan - Carroll Shelby was one of the first Americans to realise that if you keep throwing more and more power into a car without upgrading the running gear, you wind up with an unruly monster that won’t stop or go round corners. Scary.
That’s still true so, to improve driver confidence - and lap times! - Ford Performance has delved into its Mustang racing programs, as well as the development notes for the upcoming Shelby GT500, to give the new Mustang Shelby GT350 the latest in track and street technology.
It has the most powerful naturally-aspirated engine Ford has ever unleashed in a production car - a 5.2-liter V8 that revs to a howling 8250rpm and delivers a quoted 387kW and 583Nm, mated to a Tremec six-speed manual gearbox. That’s the Ford part.
The Shelby part begins with upgraded electric power-assisted steering, revised electronic stability control settings, MagneRide active suspension with recalibrated springs and revised damping, Brembo six-piston front and four-piston rear brake callipers, and new 19 inch alloy rims shod with 295/35 front and 305/35 rear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres developed specifically for the GT350 with a special compound and tread pattern.
A new front apron and rear spoiler - the latter with an optional Gurney flap - were designed using wind tunnel data from the Ford Performance Mustang racing cars and the Shelby GT500, and dialled in during hundreds of hours of track tasting by World Endurance Championship and GT4 series driver Billy Johnson.
“It’s a rewarding car to drive on track for amateurs as well as pros,” he said. “It inspires confidence in corners and makes you feel like a superhero.”
Inside, Ford has channeled early Shelby trim styling with an engine-turned aluminium instrument panel appliqué (also available in carbon fibre for an edgier new-millenium look) and Recaro racing seats with firm side bolsters and built-in slots for a racing harness. Power-adjustable seats with synthetic suede inserts are available at extra cost, to go with the dark gray, contrast-stitched synthetic suede door panels.
A 12-speaker Bang & Olufsen audio system is also available, controlled via a standard-fit 20cm Sync 3 touchscreen. Also standard are dual-zone automatic air-conditioning and a built-in universal garage door opener.
The new Mustang Shelby GT350 will be released in the United States early in 2019, but Ford Southern Africa say there are unfortunately no plans for right hand-drive production, so we won’t be getting it in South Africa.