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2017 Ford Shelby GT350 Overview
Few names carry as much weight in the performance car world as the name “Shelby.” The late Carroll Shelby helped Ford earn its first-ever win at the vaunted Le Mans 24-hour race in the GT40 racecar and achieved iconic status by turning the Ford Mustang pony car into a purebred track machine. Of the models he worked on, he is perhaps best known for the GT350, which returns for 2017--and not alone.
The 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is joined by the GT350R. Both are masterful performance machines for the road and track, but as you’ll soon learn, the GT350R is even more race-ready. Make no mistake about it, Carroll Shelby’s DNA is infused into both of these blisteringly fast coupes.
The Shelby GT500, known as a supercharged performance monster, was available before both of these cars, but the GT350 adds agility to match the straight-line power. Not quite a brute like the GT500, the GT350 is capable enough to do battle with the likes of the Camaro ZL1, Porsche 911 GT3, and BMW M4.
The GT350 announces its arrival with a look that is completely unique compared to other versions of the 2017 Ford Mustang. The first items you might notice on the GT350R are the dark wheels. They are made of lightweight carbon fiber; Ford is the first major automaker to leverage carbon-fiber technology in this way.
The four 19-inch wheels frame the rest of the car, including the vented hood, aggressive front splitter, and aerodynamically crucial rear spoiler and lower diffuser. These features create the necessary downforce to keep this ferocious snake planted on the road. The vehicle is set off with a front grille with accent vents that actually look like snake fangs.
The Deep Impact Blue and Competition Orange exterior colors are out for the 2017 model year, replaced by three eye-catching hues: Ruby Red Metallic, Lightning Blue, and Grabber Blue. Each new color is equally capable of turning heads.
Under that bulging hood is a 5.2-liter flat-pane V8. It makes 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. According to Ford, the “flat-pane” design allows for a new piston firing order that permits better engine breathing, thus widening the engine's performance capabilities. Power is sent through a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission to a rear-wheel drivetrain managed by a Torsen limited-slip differential. Some outlets claim this combination will do 0-60 mph in just 4.3 seconds, and the GT350R will do the same run in a claimed 3.9 seconds.
The GT350 was new for 2016, but there are already some considerable updates. These include a new standard strut-to-tower brace, transmission cooler, differential cooler, and the MagneRide suspension, a system that uses hydraulic fluid filled with iron particles. A current is run through the fluid, allowing the GT350’s computer to adjust the suspension thousands of times per second.
The seasoned performance driver has developed enough of an automotive palate to know what he or she wants in terms of driving dynamics. Ford’s integrated driver control system accommodates this palate by offering five unique drive modes: Normal, Sport, Weather, Track, and Drag. Each mode alters the tuning of the stability and traction controls, steering and throttle responses, MagneRide suspension, and exhaust settings.
Fuel economy for the 2017 GT350 has not yet been announced, but expect it to be near (if not the same as) the 2016 EPA estimates of 14 mpg city/21 highway/16 combined.
The GT350R takes things a step even further in the performance department, including improved downforce dynamics. It also features unique touches such as red painted brake calipers, red pinstripes on the edges of the broad hood stripes, and unique badging. It also weighs 120 pounds less than the GT350, thanks to the removal of the A/C, stereo, rear seats, and other items.
If you want the best of both worlds, a Track Package is available for the GT350 that includes a transmission cooler, oil cooler, and other performance-focused items.
The GT350 features a driver-focused cockpit, including specially designed Recaro racing bucket seats upholstered in a unique cloth. It also features upgraded gauges, the removal of chrome interior finishes to eliminate sun glare, and a flat-bottom steering wheel that makes it easier for the driver to enter and exit and adds to the GT350's racy look.
If you want to make your GT350 a more comfortable daily driver, the Tech Package adds power leather-trimmed seats, a Shaker audio system, an 8-inch Sync touchscreen system with MyFord Touch, and dual-zone electronic climate control. The touchscreen system, called Sync 3, features a common-sense menu layout and easy-to-read fonts, and is a quantum leap ahead of the system it replaces.
Pricing information for the 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R is not available at the time of this writing.
If we were to list off every last bit of performance equipment on the GT350, you’d swear it was a track-only machine. But the availability of creature comforts, as well as even more track-focused packages and variants, means the GT350 can be a high-performance daily driver as much as a track toy that you don’t have to put on a trailer to bring to the track!
From open-wheel racecars to specialty off-road vehicles, George Kennedy has driven it all. A career automotive journalist, George has been a contributor, editor, and/or producer at some of the most respected publications and outlets, including Consumer Reports, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Autoblog.com, Hemmings Classic Wheels, BoldRide.com, the Providence Journal, and WheelsTV.
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