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2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Preview

2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Preview

By Jeff Youngs, January 20, 2015

Fast Facts:
  • Drops 130 lbs. in curb weight
  • Optimized aerodynamics
  • Carbon fiber wheels
  • Bespoke performance tires
  • No air conditioning, no rear seat
  • Daily driver with out-of-the-box road-course capability

Inspired by the 1965 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Competition, and calling it "the most race-ready road-legal Mustang ever," Ford introduced the limited-production 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R at the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit. Designed for street use, the new Shelby GT350R is also engineered to deliver maximum performance on a racetrack.

Exterior Features
To get a sense of how far Ford goes toward making the new 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350R as light and as capable as is possible, consider that it comes standard with carbon fiber, 19-in., staggered-width wheels. Ford says they are stiffer than aluminum wheels, and reduce unsprung weight at each of the Shelby GT350R's corners by 13 lbs. per wheel. They are wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 high-performance tires constructed specifically for this Mustang.

Additionally, Ford has further optimized the GT350R's aerodynamics, increasing downforce through a revised front splitter design and a carbon fiber rear wing that Ford claims will move the vehicle's center of pressure rearward while improving lift balance at high speeds. Red-painted brake calipers, unique badges, and slightly different optional racing stripes also separate this car from the Shelby GT350 upon which it is based.

Interior Features
During the Mustang Shelby GT350R's development, engineers examined every single part of the car. If it did not help the car to get around a road course as quickly as possible, Ford says it was considered for deletion.

Given that this high-performance Mustang weighs 130 lbs. less than the Shelby GT350, it is not surprising to learn that the Shelby GT350R has no air conditioning, stereo, rear seats, reversing camera, trunk floor, or emergency tire sealer and inflator kit. What it does have is unique red contrast stitching, red centering line on the flat-bottom steering wheel, and "GT350R" badges.

Optional Features
An optional Electronics package adds some of these jettisoned items back to the car. It includes dual-zone automatic climate control, premium sound system, Sync 3 touch-screen infotainment system with 8-in. display screen, and additional upgrades designed to turn the Mustang Shelby GT350R into a more agreeable daily driver.

Under the Hood
Ford will install the same new 5.2-liter V-8 engine that debuted in the Shelby GT350 into the Shelby GT350R. Employing a flat-plane crankshaft, this engine is said to make more than 500 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful naturally aspirated engine the automaker has ever built.

In addition to the new V-8, the Shelby GT350R will get a 6-speed manual gearbox with a transmission cooler, limited-slip rear differential with a 3.73 axle ratio and an air-to-oil differential cooler, and an air-to-oil engine cooler.

Ford's next-generation infotainment system is called Sync 3, and it will be optional for the Mustang Shelby GT350R. Paired with a premium audio system, Sync 3 will offer smartphone connectivity and services, navigation, and other features through an 8-in. color touch screen.

Additional Research:

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  5 Fast Facts: 2016 Ford Mustang
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The original pony car, the Ford Mustang, is a 4-seat coupe or convertible that blends powerful engines with rear-wheel drive and styling that recalls popular Mustangs of the 1960s.
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Critical Knowledge:Revised exterior and interior stylingImproved interior materialsMore sound deadening material to reduce interior noiseV-8 horsepower up from 300 to 315More safety featuresNew technology featuresImproved handlingStandard stability controlOn sale spring 2009IntroductionWhen it was released as a 1964_ model, the Ford Mustang was the first American pony car. In fact, the term "pony car" was inspired by the Mustang's name and iconic badge. In an era when midsize and full-size cars went fast in a straight line, but didn't want to go around corners, the Mustang handled well by 1960s standards and offered V-8 power in a lightweight package. Rivals such as the Chevrolet Camaro, Pontiac Firebird and Dodge Challenger came and went, but the Mustang soldiered on without production interruptions. Now, 45 years after its debut, the Mustang once again faces a challenge from a reborn Dodge Challenger and the soon-to-be-released 2010 Chevy Camaro. Not to be left behind, Ford is updating the Mustang for 2010.
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