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Ford Shelby GT350 Proves Engineering Isn’t Everything: First Drive

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Jonathon Klein​

The most capable, track-oriented, Ford Performance product ever. Ever That includes the previous Ford GT, the Cobra and everything else that the company has ever built. It’s definitely a tall order to fill, but that’s what Ford has been saying since the debut of the new Mustang Shelby GT350. Using a specially designed flat-plane crank V8 engine, carbon wheels, and a suspension system that rivals most Ferraris, Ford is using this car to call out the rest of the world’s performance cars.

For months, the company teased enthusiasts and journalists in every conceivable way. We saw snippets of the exhaust, clips of the car flogging a track, and reaction videos from the streets of London. It was one of the most well thought-out ad campaigns in recent history. But after months of waiting and pestering Ford to give us a go, we got the invitation. And it just so happened to be at one of the finest tracks in the country, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Jonathon Klein​

Rev Up My Heart

The first thing we need to talk about is this engine. It isn’t the sort of engine you expect to see in something that wears the Blue Oval. It’s still a throaty V8, of course, but it’s a much more refined noise that emanates from the multi-stage exhaust. It’s much more on par with a European V8 than the muscle cars we’ve come to know and love. It feels drastically different as well.

You’re sitting there, on the front straight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, piloting what appears to be just a Ford Mustang. The interior of the car says Ford Mustang. The look of the car says Ford Mustang. But plant your foot firmly into the gas pedal and you realize this isn’t just another Mustang. Instead of shifting at somewhere near 5,500 rpm, the tachometer keeps climbing. Further and further it goes as you feel like you are going to blow it out the hood. But it keeps taking it. That’s the moment you realize this is no ordinary Mustang.

The power of the flat-plane crank V8 comes on smooth and strong. Whereas the normal Coyote can be a bit snappy if you prod the accelerator, the GT350’s power is just a tidal wave of consistency. And that’s exactly what Ford was aiming for. The company didn’t want the car to dance around like a lunatic baboon, but rather, like a ballet dancer performing Swan Lake.

Jonathon Klein​

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