Yes, the Shelby GT350 is a Mustang ? but to group it with the same Mustang you'd find in a rental fleet is to completely miss the point. The GT350 has the heart of a racing car, with a meticulously engineered engine and a brilliant suspension. Let's call it the ultimate Mustang.
One key element that sets the GT350 apart from ordinary 'Stangs is the 5.2-liter V8, which features a flat-plane crankshaft and lots of voodoo technology. This race-ready engine revs to a stratospheric 8,200 rpm, with a soundtrack like a mechanical aria. Output of this screamer is 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet, and a six-speed manual is the only transmission choice. This engine is built to survive life on a racetrack, with coolers for the engine oil, transmission and differential to keep it going lap after lap. But what impresses us most about the engine is how docile it is ? the GT350 is easy to drive in city traffic.
The Shelby GT350 is just as impressive from the underside. The Mustang was redesigned for 2015, and the GT350 benefits from key updates like a stiffer chassis and (finally!) an independent rear suspension. The GT350 gets a long list of enhancements, including magnetorheological shock absorbers (which are filled with a fluid that thickens when a magnetic force is applied, allowing near-instant changes in damping stiffness), big Brembo brakes, and a lowered suspension. And yet once again, for all that race-ready equipment, the GT350 poses no major problems when driven on the street ? a trait not normally associated with track-ready racing cars.
And it's the dual nature that makes the GT350 so special. Normally, a good racing car has to be trailered to the track. The GT350 is one of the few cars you can drive to the track, change the tires, kick a little Corvette butt, then ? provided you didn't crash it ? put the street shoes back on and drive it home. Even if you don't race, the GT350 is a serious grin-generator: Running the engine to redline is a heavenly experience, and the suspension grips hard in the curves and dismisses bumps and pavement irregularities with nary a twitch.
We can't imagine anyone interested in this car caring much about fuel economy, but propriety demands that we mention it ? and it isn't that bad. The EPA rates the GT350 at 16 mpg combined, which breaks down to 14 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway. Which is good, because sometimes the racetrack is very, very far away.
Ford sells the Shelby GT350 in two models. The standard car is equipped for daily driving, and offers some luxury-oriented comfort and convenience features as options. The R model is intended for track use, with a few key items (A/C, stereo, backseat) deleted in order to save weight, though they can be added back in as part of an option package. Which to buy? Edmunds.com can help find the perfect 2017 Ford Shelby GT350 for you.