Ford’s most sophisticated muscle car ever crosses the pond


FORD claims the Shelby GT350R is the most track-focused road-legal production Mustang ever, and it strutted its stuff on the weekend at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK.

Ben Collins, formerly known as The Stig on Top Gear, wrestled the big V8 coupe up the Goodwood hillclimb and was desperately trying to get heat into the tyres for most of the run as the Shelby twitched its way to the finish.

Shelby has been an official Ford performance badge since 2007 – similar to Dodge-Chrysler and SRT or Holden and HSV – and the Shelby ’Stang has been developed completely in-house by Ford Performance, which is also responsible for the new Ford GT supercar and F150 Raptor pick-up.

Based on the IRS-equipped 2015 Mustang, the Shelby GT350R packs an atmo 5.2-litre flat-plane-crank V8 pumping out over 500hp, not to mention an awesome soundtrack for a factory motor – thank the ‘weight-saving’ resonator-free exhaust system for that.

That grunt is put to the road through a six-speed Tremec manual ’box and a 3.73:1 Torsen limited slip differential.

But this Muzzy is all about the corners. It features magnetic suspension that automatically adjusts its firmness thousands of times per second to eliminate bodyroll while maintaining compliant ride quality. Ford has also given the GT350R new lower control arms compared to the standard Mustang coupe range, in order to fit the firmer coil springs, and added thicker sway-bars front and rear.

The track-tuned coupe rides on unique lightweight carbonfibre wheels supplied by Geelong-based company Carbon Revolution, wrapped in fat and sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres. The 19×11-inch front and 19×11.5-inch rear carbon rollers are a first for a mainstream car manufacturer, are stiffer than standard alloys and save around 5.9kg per corner.

The diet doesn’t end there, either; the standard GT350R doesn’t come with air-conditioning, a radio, back seats or boot lining. It’s all in the name of weight reduction – this weapon weighs around 59kg less than a 1700kg standard Mustang GT.

Ford reckons the car even produces functional downforce thanks to a new chin splitter, side skirts and a not-so-subtle rear spoiler.

The Shelby GT350R will be built in limited numbers, though Ford isn’t saying how limited exactly, and it’s only being sold in North American markets in left-hand drive, so an official Australian launch looks unlikely.

However, some Shelby coupes might still find their way to our shores through private importers and RHD conversion specialists.

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