Return of the Shelby GT350 Mustang

Most powerful, naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever.

by on Nov.17, 2014

A legend returns: the new Shelby GT350 Mustang.

Only months after launching the all-new 2015 Mustang, Ford is turning the pony car’s performance quotient up a notch, confirming reports that it will bring an all-new version of the Shelby GT350 Mustang to the Los Angeles Auto Show later this week.

And, as recently reported, the Shelby will get a unique new 5.2-liter V-8 featuring a high-revving flat-plane crankshaft that can deliver up to 500 horsepower. That, it turns out, will make it the most powerful naturally aspirated production engine the Detroit maker has ever produced.

Feel the Power!

“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 Ford’s global product development czar Raj Nair. “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.”

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Ford stiffens up the new Mustang's body and gives the GT350 a heavily modified 5.2-liter V-8.

The Shelby GT350 has a long history – the first version developed by the late Carroll Shelby in 1965, not long after the original ’64-1/2 Ford Mustang made its much-ballyhooed debut. It was the first of the pony cars to bear the Cobra emblem, but unlike the new GT350, the 1965-1966 models started out as stock Mustangs before being shipped to Shelby’s own plant for customization.

Ford’s aspirations for the latest version of the Shelby are probably best summed up by a line from the maker’s press release, dubbing the 2015 GT350 “an all-day track car that’s also street legal.”

While the engine has its root in the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8, it has undergone some massive upgrades, first bored out to 5.2-liters and then given Ford’s first production flat-plan crank, an architecture rarely found in a mainstream street car. Skipping the complexities, the layout makes for better engine breathing and allows much higher revving. The new engine will make 500 horsepower, Ford promises, and “above” 400 pound-feet of torque.

That power continues to be directed to the rear wheels through a lightweight 6-speed manual gearbox , and a Torsen limited-slip differential.

The very first Shelby GT350 was added to the Mustang line-up in 1965 and wore the Cobra emblem.

“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 Jamal Hameedi, chief engineer, Ford Global Performance Vehicles.

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To handle the added power, Ford fits the new GT350 with a tower-to-tower brace and an injection-molded carbon fiber composite grille opening that enhance the already stiff new Mustang platform. The front track is wider, ride height lower than the stock Mustang GT. The GT350 also gets recalibrated bushings and spring rates.

The Shelby GT350 Mustang also becomes the first Ford ever to use the continuously variable MagneRide damper system. It allows each shock to be adjusted individually in as little as 10 milliseconds.

To help scrub off speed, the new Shelby adopts two-piece cross-drilled iron discs mounted to aluminum hats. “At the front,” Ford notes, “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.”

The new GT350 is the first of a long list of Mustang variants to follow in the coming years.

The GT350 rides on extra-stiff 19-inch alloy wheels, shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

An optional Track Pack comes with engine and transmission oil coolers.

And the Shelby GT350 gets a new, 5-mode driver control system which, adds Ford, “tailor(s) ABS, stability control, traction control, steering effort, throttle mapping, MagneRide tuning and exhaust settings, depending on driver preference, to achieve maximum performance.”

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Visually, the Shelby gets a more athletic stance, not just lower and wider, but with re-contoured front fenders and wider wheel arches. There are front fender vents, and inner vents to reduce air turbulence in the front wheel wells. The grille adopts a forward angle to improve radiator cooling.

The track-optimized interior includes special Recaro seats and a flat-bottomed racing steering wheel. Meanwhile, there’s a modified gauge cluster, while interior brightwork has been toned down to reduce distracting glare.

For those who don’t want to give up all the comforts of a daily driver, the Shelby GT350 can be ordered with a Tech Pack offering power, leather-trimmed seats, dual-zone climate control, an 8-inch MyFord Touch display and a Shaker audio system.

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One Response to “Return of the Shelby GT350 Mustang”

  1. Jorge says:

    This should be a nice car but for clarification a flat crank does NOT allow higher engine speeds over a traditional crankshaft nor does it provide “better breathing” per se.

    The “flat crank” allows the firing order and thus the intake stroke to be more balanced so that all cylinders are theoretically able to produce equal power vs. the slightly lower power output of a traditional Detroit V8 engine that doesn’t use a flat crank and thus doesn’t have quite as good of intake airflow balance.

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