Our tester produced 519 rwhp on our in-house DynoJet, and created quite a stir on the street and at the track. At Gainesville Raceway, it blasted to an 11.62 at 122 mph on the grippy 265/40/19 Goodyear F1 Supercar G2 tires. We lapped the Steed during a test-and-tune night at Bradenton Motorsports Park on Mickey Thompson drag radials and ran 11.55 at 120, albeit in hotter, more humid conditions.
Power is enhanced by a Ford Racing Performance Parts supercharger and a Shelby-specific after-cat exhaust, which sports nifty center-exiting pipes that sound spectacular. Shelby captured the classic raspy Ford sound--it purrs nicely at cruise and part-throttle but screams out a beautiful note at WOT. It is much louder than stock, and reminiscent of Frank Bullitt's '68 Mustang, it makes that really cool gurgle on deceleration, which we loved.
After our straight-line testing, we slithered around the road course at Gainesville Raceway in bold, racecar-like fashion. From the get-go the GT350 dug in and performed. The tuned FRPP/Shelby suspension, combined with a Shelby Watt's link kept the Mustang flat and neutral, and the aforementioned Supercar tires mounted on Cragar 19-inch wheels provide loads of grip. A major asset was the Baer six-piston front brakes, which performed as good as any we've encountered. The modulation and feel was to our liking and there was no fade to speak of. The braking system is helped by large cooling ducts that blow air over the calipers and rotors. Shelby does equip the GT350 with Eradispeed rear rotors, but our tester had stock rear brakes to allow us to use 16-inch wheels for the strip.
It is flat-out a blast to drive and the level of performance is amazing. The performance and feel is above what you'd expect from a street-legal Mustang--it's one of the best handling Mustangs we have ever tested. It was amazing to be able to brake so hard (and late) and turn in so aggressively with full control and no slip. I was able to roll back to the throttle much quicker than with other cars to utilize all the power from the supercharged 5.0L. That translated into big speed at the end of each straightaway and big smiles all around.
Not surprisingly, the GT350 proved to the quickest Mustang we've tested on the Gainesville road course, capturing a lap in just 1.02.35 seconds (and also 1.02.75 and 1.02.72). And that's only second to a new Z06 Corvette with the carbon brake upgrade, which weighs hundreds of pounds less and sells for over $90,000. Of course, this is no budget machine either, as our tester would sell for close to $80,000.
Expensive? You bet, but as the folks at Shelby say, it's exclusive. Just 170 models will be built in 2011, and production will be limited to 350 in 2012. The Shelby GT350 is a Mustang you buy because you love performance and the Shelby heritage. It has supercar performance and certainly the potential to be a classic. The '65 GT350 sold for more than double the price of a base Mustang, and the modern rendition is no different. A proper original can also be worth a fortune, and there is an argument that this one will be too--only time will tell.
The Shelby GT350 is a Mustang you buy because you love performance and the Shelby heritage.