When it comes to automotive icons, few rival the '65 Shelby GT350. Just 562 examples were produced and they terrorized the SCCA's B/Production class with a hopped-up version of the small-block 289, a modified suspension, and very racy looks. After a 37-year hiatus, the Shelby GT350 returns with 624 hp--more than double the horsepower of the original!
Carroll Shelby first drew up plans for the '65 GT350 Mustang to be road raced after his success with the mighty Cobra. He succeeded, as the '65 GT350s proved to be a force on track and off. It goes without saying that the early Shelbys garner much attention--GT350s and GT500s sell for outlandish money and have reached the summit of collector car status. Each '65 was Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue Le Mans stripes. Today a documented GT350 can fetch upwards of $250,000.
In the years to follow, Shelby produced a variety of models and color options. From '65-'67, Shelby built the vehicles, then Ford took over production in 1968. Shelby Mustangs sold through 1970, then the connection between Shelby and Ford fizzled out--until 2007 and the re-birth of the GT500. It's four years into that run and GT500s are as desirable as ever. In fact, we're quite sure there will be a 650hp model for 2013.
This success has allowed Shelby American to expand its line of Shelby Mustangs to Ford-built (Shelby GT and GT500) and post-title versions prepared by Shelby Automobiles in Las Vegas (and select facilities). They include the Super Snake, Terlingua, CS6, GTS (V-6 or V-8), and now the GT350. And like the original, the '11 (and soon-to-be offered '12) models are tweaked and tuned to go fast, turn, and stop on a dime.
Utilizing the hot 5.0-liter Ti-VCT engine, Shelby offers the GT350 with unique bodywork, a jazzed interior, seriously enhanced suspension, and brake upgrade. Our tester was in the most classic hues (which is the only color scheme for 2011). It sported the mac-daddy 624hp supercharged 5.0L engine and every available option, included painted stripes for $4,999.
The latest GT350 will be built in limited production, so the opportunity of owning a rare Shelby still exists--but it's no guarantee that they will be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The base supercharged GT350 will set you back $33,995 MSRP ($26,995) if you forego the blower. "We brought back the GT350 45 years after it was launched," said Carroll Shelby. "We're repeating history by offering two additional colors and building a few convertibles for the second year of production." Color combinations include Performance White with blue stripes, Race Red with white stripes, and Kona Blue with white stripes.
Each GT350 wears a racy front fascia that nicely captures the mid-60s-style grille that flows into a contemporary bumper/air dam that's molded with a huge inlet for the heat exchanger, functional brake-cooling ducts, and a sharp splitter. Shelby also replaces the stock hood with a bulged and scooped version, and it adds classic GT350 body stripes just above its rocker skirting. "GT350" is emblazoned on the hood, which we feel is an unnecessary treatment. The rear is completely revamped with a bold taillight treatment that is unique to this car, and the lower rear fascia is cut out for the rear center-mounted exhaust pipes. The interior is also amp'd with reskinned seats, steering wheel, and shifter boot (all of which is optional), and specific serialized badging. Rather than using a dash-mounted gauge pod, additional round gauges are mounted on the A-pilar. Most who sat in the GT350 were not fond of this, as it placed the gauges too close to the driver's head.
Shelby provided us with the 624 gross horsepower upgrade (which voids the factory powertrain warranty). Other engine options are a cold-air inducted naturally aspirated version and a 525hp blown model. An automatic transmission is only available with the N/A version.