The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Demonstrates How World-Class Equals Patriotic
You can’t go more than five sentences into discussion about the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 without someone mentioning the sound of its flat-plane-crank V8. This new Shelby is one of the most beautiful-sounding production cars of all time. Its exhaust note would be right at home oscillating through $100,000 Dynaudio Evidence Master speakers in your dream living room.
The flat-plane-crank, 5.2L V8’s howling 526-horsepower cackle is arguably the best thing about the GT350, so it’s understandable that all the GT350 reviews in the media devote multiple paragraphs to that single virtue.
But the Mustang GT350’s driving experience is more stereophonic than just its exhaust sound. I recently got to drive the Shelby at Buttonwillow Raceway Park in Buttonwillow, California as part of the Ford Performance North American Track Tour, and the thing that hit me out of left field about the car was its front end feel.
Most performance cars I’ve track-tested have a monaural disposition at the front. The GT350 is pure hi-fi stereo with its steering feel. I could individually sense each tire’s traction limit despite the car’s being equipped with electronic power-assisted steering.
If you’re lucky enough to feel feedback from a modern sports car’s front tires, it’s like the left and right tires are talking over each other to get your attention. Not with the Shelby GT350. The left and right tires weren’t just talking to me. They were playing the violin on two discrete areas of a theater stage, and the Shelby GT350’s engine, chassis and suspension were the full-bodied orchestra tying everything into an applause-worthy symphony.
By now, you’ve read the media’s rants and raves about how great this car performs on a track, and I can confirm, the Shelby GT350 feels at home on a track like you feel at home covered in microwave popcorn while binge-watching House of Cards.
In my years as an automotive writer, many cars have impressed me with their on-track behavior, but only three cars have wowed me on a track. The first car was the Ferrari 458 Italia. I expected it to be great on the track, but not five times better than the C7 Corvette I had driven a few minutes before my Ferrari experience. That 458 was worth every penny of a quarter-million dollars.
The next car that wowed me on the track was the Mercedes-AMG GT S. While not as soulful in its tarmac-terrorizing as the Ferrari, I loved how safe I felt taking that car to 10/10ths. Maybe you’ve lost yourself while gazing into a lover’s eyes. I’ve lost myself taking Willow Springs’ sweeping turn eight at 130 mph in the Mercedes-AMG GT.
The third time my jaw dropped onto a track was during my time with the Shelby GT350. As you’ll see me say in the video below, you no longer need to spend $90,000 on a bare-bones Porsche 911 Carrera when you can spend $60,000 on a well-equipped Mustang Shelby GT350, and still get a world-class driving experience.
The GT350 is an incredibly precise, yet thrilling track instrument that works on the road, too. Its steering is over-assisted, and that takes away from the fun at lower speeds, but you forget about that when you’re driving it fast — the way the gear gods intended.
The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is an example of how we Americans are finally coming into our own with building performance cars so good, the rest of the world has no choice but to respect us. For that reason, this Shelby is the most patriotic Mustang ever built.