2014 Los Angeles Auto Show: 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang Returns With 500 HP

Nov 17, 2014 03:00 PM EST | Matt Mercuro

Ford confirmed today that one of the most iconic performance Mustang nameplates of all time is returning with the reveal of the brand-new Shelby GT350 Mustang that you won't believe is street legal.

The first Shelby GT350 was introduced back in 1965, which helped establish Mustang's performance credentials. The new model features the most powerful naturally aspirated Ford production engine ever, designed by the automaker to handle the most challenging roads on the planet.

Ford's new GT350 builds on Carroll Shelby's original idea, which was to transform a great every-day car into a road racing machine. Casual drivers to driving enthusiast alike can expect the most balanced and exhilarating Mustang ever when getting behind the wheel of a Shelby GT350.

Ford engineers mixed things up with the GT350. Instead of developing individual systems to perform independently, each component and shape was designed to work together.

"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 in a company statement. "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 on in the development process, it was decided by engineers that a naturally aspirated V8 engine would best suit the GT350.

"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 in a company statement.

The brand new 5.2-liter engine is the first production V8 from Ford to come with a flat-plane crankshaft, which is usually found only in racing applications or exotic sports cars. This design evenly spaces all crank pins at 180-degree intervals, with allows a cylinder firing order that switches between cylinder banks, thus reducing the overlap of exhaust pressure pulses.

When combined with valvetrain and cylinder-head advancements, this permits better cylinder breathing, resulting in the most powerful naturally aspirated production Ford engine ever, at more the 500 hp. with torque peak above 400 lb.-ft.

Track capability is boosted by the output characteristics of the engine and the 5.2-liter V8 features a broad torque curve. The flat-plane 5.2-liter V8 provides drivers a large amount of performance and flexibility within each gear of the lightweight six-speed manual transmission.

"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 GT350 comes equipped with some of the most advanced materials and technologies available, like Brembo brakes, stiff 19-inch aluminum-alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires and customized sidewalls, tread face and compound for maximum grip, whether a driver is racing at the track or cruising on the road.

The vehicle is also more aerodynamic.

"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."

The windshield forward bodywork is unique, which includes a new aluminum hood that was lowered for the 2016 model and sloped, according to Ford. Aluminum front fenders will accommodate the wider wheel arches and front track.

Engineer's designed the interior around the driver with specially designed Recaro sport seats, updated gauges to monitor performance and flat-bottom steering.

"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."

Ford hasn't announced yet when the vehicle will go on sale or pricing.

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