This is one of the rare moments in this business that we eagerly anticipate: the first official details of an truly important new model. As a journalist, having experienced these product launches for thirty years, most of these new model introductions are routine… we’ve seen so many of them before that we know what the important questions really are and that the real interest will or will not will come until the first test drives many months later. Most launches just aren’t that exciting to the industry or to us. But this one of the special ones.
As a hobbyist, we’ve been watching the spy pictures and videos captured during the development of this car for almost a year. The new engine became clear from the video, the spy pictures revealed the Michelin 295s up front with the enlarged front fenders, we saw the Brembos all around – and we knew that a truly special car was in development. But there was also so much that couldn’t be ascertained about the GT350 from that kind of material. Unlike the introduction of the 2015 Mustang, where hundreds of spy pictures revealed almost everything before the launch (all of the styling, the origin of the chassis as an evolution of the previous chassis, almost every detail of the IRS, even a picture of the engine from a test vehicle with its hood open).
But now the GT350 introduction has surprised us – and excited us. All the potential that we’ve seen in the new IRS-equipped chassis, in the engine, and in the tuning of all together as a single integrated system – which we didn’t fully see in the 2015 Mustang GT – is here at last in the GT350. This is where it all comes together, this is where Ford engineers built what they were capable of building rather than what they were constrained by budget in building.
This is where we see the proper tires for the suspension, the proper tuning of the suspension, the proper brakes for the car, and a major evolution of the Coyote engine. And we see surprises – with magnetoreological shocks leading the list. This is a technology that truly offers it all, and which can’t be beat. We’ve driven cars equipped with this at high-speed on the track, in autocrosses, and on the street and it solves the #1 problem of suspension tuners: that shock dampening rates always have to be tuned for a compromise. Either the damping is right for the track, or right on the street, but never both. Always a compromise and never right at either side of the spectrum – much less at the extremes. Now we can have it all (kudos to GM for originally inventing this system).
And then there is the GT350 engine. The car couldn’t have been done without a unique engine and its one of Ford’s all time greats. The extra displacement doesn’t surprise us – while we don’t know all the details yet, it is probably a spray-bore engine (removing the liners gains some extra bore). And while we knew it is a flat-plane crank engine, there are many engineering details we don’t yet know. We’d assume the engine is topped by a Boss302-type of intake in order to support the claimed 8000 RPM, but again we don’t know. We’re very much looking forward to the press briefings that will be held just before production begins. Being engine geeks, we want to run our hands across the new crankshaft and peer down the unique intake and exhaust ports of the improved cylinder heads. We’re also very happy that the new engine is naturally-aspirated, as supercharging is a technology that inherently suffers from heat soak on the track – we have personally tried it, it’s failed, and we want no part of it.
And last, but just as important, is the improved Brembo brakes. Finally, the right brakes for the car all around. 6 pistons up front, 4 in the rear. The kind of front and rear capability and balance that complements the chassis tuning. Rather than the silly system in the GT with 6 (smaller) pistons up front and a single piston iron caliper in the rear. Just slightly better than the severely under-braked Boss302, but clearly not up to the inherent capabilities of the chassis. No more, the GT350 has it right.
One critical element we don’t see yet is the weight. The curb weights of the new Mustang were a closely guarded secret right up to and even after the car went on sale. The Mustang GT turned out to be much heavier than it’s predecessor, and even more so when heavily (no pun) optioned. We can’t see how the GT350 is going to lose any major weight. The base Mustang already has aluminum fenders and hood, so there isn’t anything that will be gained there. The larger wheels, tires, and brakes will add more weight. There might be some surprises that we haven’t seen yet, but at this point we’d predict the base GT350 will weigh in the high 3800 pound range and will have the same front-to-rear balance. A base Mustang GT, with the base suspension weighs 3704 pounds.
Now, with the introduction complete, the next milestone will be the first test drives for the press. Hopefully that’s where we’ll find the final specifications including the HP, torque, and weight. Unfortunately, this event is many months off for us.
The Ford press release follows, and we’ve includes all the images and video for your viewing pleasure!
Shelby GT350 Mustang: The Legend Returns
- All-new Shelby® GT350 Mustang is a thoroughbred capable of tackling the world’s most challenging roads and racetracks
- GT350 is powered by a unique, high-revving flat-plane crankshaft 5.2-liter V8 engine that will produce more than 500 horsepower – the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever
- Advanced materials, MagneRide dampers, aggressive brakes and finely tuned aerodynamics push the performance of Mustang to previously unmatched levels
One of the most iconic performance Mustang nameplates of all time is returning, Ford confirmed today with the reveal of the all-new Shelby® GT350 Mustang.
The original Shelby GT350 introduced in 1965 established Mustang’s performance credentials. The all-new Shelby GT350 Mustang, featuring the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever, is a world-class performance vehicle, designed to tackle the planet’s most challenging roads – an all-day track car that’s also street legal.
The new GT350 builds on Carroll Shelby’s original idea – transforming a great every-day car into a dominant road racer – by taking advantage of a dramatically improved sixth-generation Mustang to create a truly special driving experience. Driving enthusiasts behind the wheel of a Shelby GT350 can expect to be treated to the most balanced, nimble and exhilarating production Mustang yet.
Ford engineers took an innovative approach with GT350. Rather than develop individual systems to perform well independently, every component and shape is optimized to work in concert; balance is the key. While paying rigorous attention to detail, the team pushed the envelope with cutting-edge materials and technologies.
“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,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “Every change we made to this car was driven by the functional requirements of a powerful, responsive powerplant – nimble, precise handling and massive stopping power.”
Early in development of the GT350, it was decided a high-revving, naturally aspirated V8 engine would best suit a track-focused Mustang.
“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 Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Global Performance Vehicles.
The new 5.2-liter 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 track capability is enhanced by the output characteristics of the engine – the 5.2-liter V8 features an exceptionally broad torque curve. Combined with its high-revving ability, the flat-plane 5.2-liter V8 gives drivers an enormous amount of performance and flexibility within each gear of the lightweight six-speed manual transmission. A standard Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential optimizes cornering grip and straight-line traction.
“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,” said Hameedi.
The new Mustang platform is the strongest in the history of the brand, with torsional stiffness increased 28 percent over the previous model. That stiff structure ensures the suspension geometry remains consistent, even under hard driving on back roads and tracks. Front stiffness is further improved on GT350 with a cutting-edge injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening and optional lightweight tower-to-tower brace. The front track has been increased while spring rates and bushings have been recalibrated all around, with ride height reduced compared to Mustang GT.
For optimum handling, the wheels need to respond quickly to the contours of the road and driver input. Reducing unsprung mass is key to improving that response, but a balance must be struck between taking mass out of a suspension and delivering truly capable braking performance.
Due to the significant speeds the car can develop, GT350 features the most track-credible brake system ever offered on a Ford vehicle in terms of absolute stopping power, fade resistance and brake pedal feel. The brakes are two-piece cross-drilled iron discs mounted to aluminum hats. At the front are massive 394-millimeter rotors clamped by Brembo six-piston fixed calipers with integrated caliper bridges, while 380-millimeter rotors at the rear utilize four-piston calipers.
GT350 makes use of extra-stiff 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels – 10.5 inches wide in front, 11.0 inches in the rear – clad in state-of-the-art Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires with GT350-specific sidewall construction, tread face and compound. The custom tires are designed to deliver maximum grip on the road or at the track.
Ultra-quick responsiveness to changing conditions is provided by the first-ever Ford application of continuously controlled MagneRide dampers. The dampers are filled with a hydraulic fluid impregnated with iron particles; when an electric current is passed through the fluid, a near-instant adjustment of the suspension performance can be made. With wheel position sensors monitoring motion thousands of times per second combined with other vehicle data, changes can be made to each corner independently every 10 milliseconds for optimum handling performance. This is a system designed not just to make the car handle better but to instill greater confidence in even the best driver.
Obsession to detail
“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 design director, The Americas. “We optimized 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 this high-performance model and up to two inches lower than Mustang GT.
The new aluminum hood has been lowered and sloped, compared to the base Mustang, tightly wrapped around the engine for the smallest possible aerodynamic signature. Front and rear aero elements have been balanced to work together on the track. The fascia has been resculpted to provide the aggressive lower front splitter with maximum pressure and a ducted belly pan delivers significant downforce. The hood outlet 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 subtle lip spoiler across the trailing edge of the decklid increases downforce without adding excess drag.
The athletic stance of the all-new Mustang is further accentuated with recontoured aluminum front fenders to accommodate the wider front track and wider wheel arches. Front fender vents work with vented inner fenders to draw out turbulent air in the wheel wells and smoothly direct it down the side of the car. The forward-angled 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.
Focus-driven cockpit changes
Like everything else about GT350, the interior has been optimized for driving, beginning with the specially designed Recaro sport seats with a unique cloth. Hundreds of hours and many prototypes went into a seat that is both comfortable in daily driving and capable on the track. A flat-bottom steering wheel makes it easier for the driver to get in and out, and is more ergonomic on the racetrack. Gauges are upgraded to reflect the enormous performance capability of the car. Chrome and bright finishes have been reduced or eliminated to prevent sun glare that may distract the driver.
The advanced technology inherent to Mustang has been deployed for duty in the Shelby GT350. An all-new integrated driver control system allows selection of five unique modes that tailor ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings, depending on driver preference, to achieve maximum performance. Drivers are invited to test them all.
Drivers interested in comfort, convenience and entertainment upgrades may select the Tech Pack, which includes power, leather-trimmed seats; Shaker Audio; 8-inch MyFord Touch® LCD touch screen; and dual zone electronic temperature control, to name a few features.
“We took the best Ford Mustang yet and massaged every aspect of the car that affects the performance driving experience,” said Hameedi. “We tested endlessly on the most challenging roads and tracks in the world, and we believe serious drivers will love the Shelby GT350 Mustang.”
50 years of Ford Mustang
Shelby GT350 Mustang is the latest in an all-new line of Mustang fastback and convertible models, including the specially designed 50th Anniversary Edition Mustang.
More than 9.2 million Mustangs have been sold since the car’s 1964 debut.
With more options to choose from, there is a Mustang to fit any lifestyle. The upgraded V8 in Mustang GT – now delivering 435 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque – is joined by a 300-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 and an all-new 2.3-liter EcoBoost® engine that brings state-of-the-art technology to Mustang.
The Mustang 2.3-liter EcoBoost engine uses direct injection, variable cam timing and a twin-scroll turbocharger to deliver the performance drivers expect with an output of 310 horsepower and 320 lb.-ft. of torque.
The new Mustang continues to be popular. In addition to being the most-liked vehicle on Facebook with 8 million likes, all-new models are turning on U.S. dealer lots in an average of six days.