You may have heard that old saw from your high school shop teacher about the wisdom of using the "right tool for the right job." Well, if the job at hand is to have a blast on your local racetrack, the Ford Shelby GT350 is as purpose-built an implement as you're ever likely to find.
The Shelby GT350 coupe shares the same basic DNA as Ford's very respectable but comparatively ordinary Mustang GT model. From there, the automaker's engineering team dug deep into the specialty parts bin, giving the GT350 a highly modified 5.2-liter V8 that redlines at an astonishing 8,200 rpm, putting out an outrageous 526 horsepower in the process. A lowered ride height, specially tuned adaptive suspension and beefy Brembo brakes round out the high points of a long list of related go-fast goodies.
While all this was designed and built primarily to produce maximum delight on a dedicated road course, what's surprising is that the Ford Shelby GT350 remains tame enough to be driven to the track under its own power ? no trailer required. In fact, it's easily domesticated enough to stop and pick up a few groceries on the way home or to be driven to work the next morning. That's something few highly focused track weapons can claim.
Current Ford Shelby GT350
Given the fact that the Ford Shelby GT350 is essentially its own distinct model apart from the broader Mustang lineup, decision-making comes down to your choices in available option packages.
To start with, the Shelby GT350's list of standard equipment includes 19-inch alloy wheels; adaptive suspension dampers and heavy-duty springs, Brembo brakes, a Torsen rear differential (with 3.73 gears), a front suspension tower brace, a trio of powertrain coolers (oil, transmission and differential), adjustable drive settings, xenon headlights, a rear spoiler, keyless entry and ignition, manual Recaro front seats with simulated suede inserts, a tilt-and-telescoping steering column and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Standard technology includes Bluetooth connectivity, a 4.2-inch center display, Track performance telemetry, a rearview camera, Sync phone and audio voice commands, smartphone app integration, and a six-speaker sound system with a USB port.
Springing for the Electronics option package gets you dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-inch touchscreen with Sync 3, a navigation system and a nine-speaker audio system with satellite radio and two USB ports. Tacking on the Convenience package adds leather upholstery and six-way power-adjustable sport front seats (with heating and ventilation and driver power lumbar adjustment; these seats replace the standard Recaros).
The GT350R gets most of the above, plus 19-inch carbon-fiber wheels (with special Michelin tires), revised suspension tuning and aerodynamic upgrades, including a front chin splitter and carbon-fiber rear wing. The air-conditioning, sound system, floor mats, rear seat, rearview camera, Sync system and tire inflation kit are all jettisoned with the GT350R. To regain most of those creature comforts, along with dual-zone climate control, a nine-speaker sound system, touchscreen and Sync 3, you can add the R-Electronics option package.
Under the hood is that heavily massaged 5.2-liter V8 engine that puts out 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque. As you'd expect in a high-performance machine like this, that power is fed to the rear wheels by way of a six-speed manual transmission. (An automatic isn't even offered.) EPA fuel economy estimates come in about where you'd expect, at 16 mpg combined (14 city/21 highway).
In our reviews, the Ford Shelby GT350 posted a zero-to-60-mph time of 4.6 seconds; an impressive number to be sure, but a time that was nearly equaled by the 5.0-liter Mustang GT we tested. Stopping distance from 60 mph came in at 101 feet, an outstanding performance. We also found the standard adjustable dampers delivered an ideal balance of livable ride quality on the street with firmer settings required for the sharpest handling on the racetrack.
Used Ford Shelby GT350
The Shelby GT350 and GT350R debuted for the 2016 model year. The 2017 models added the Electronics and Convenience packages to the options list, while the previously optional Track package became standard equipment.
Read the most recent 2018 Ford Shelby GT350 review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Ford Shelby GT350 page.