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The recent completion of our long-term tests of both the Ford Mustang GT and the Chevrolet Camaro SS left a void in our pony-car stable. To fill that emptiness, we wrangled a back-to-back 10Best Cars winner and Blue Oval thoroughbred, the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. Its precision handling, powerful Brembo brakes, and wild 8200-rpm redline have fascinated us since our first behind-the-wheel exposure in late 2015.
The durability of carbon-fiber wheels induced curiosity, and a few staffers lobbied for the pricier R variant with that equipment. Our daily commutes, though, often traverse roads comparable to the surface of Mars, and the several-thousand-dollar price tag of a carbon-fiber wheel replacement made us cringe. We settled on the $57,045 entry-level factory hot rod. Pushing the as-tested price up to $60,520 was the $3000 Electronics package as well as white over-the-top stripes for an additional $475, a tribute to Shelbys of yore. Our car can be considered fully equipped, since the only other options are premium paint choices or the all-out $7500 GT350R equipment package.
After the initial 1000-mile break-in period was completed, the high-revving flat-plane-crank V-8 propelled our new Grabber Blue ride to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and through the quarter-mile in 12.4 at 118 mph. The car circled the skidpad with 1.02 g of lateral grip. Those numbers all slightly improve on the results of our 2016-model test, but none are as mind-blowing as the menacingly loud exhaust note—we measured 95 decibels in the cabin at wide open throttle. The exhaust has the ability to stop bystanders and, apparently, wildlife dead in their tracks. One example, let’s call him Rocky Raccoon, took an extra-long look at the Shelby’s front bumper, requiring a trip to the body shop for a replacement fascia with fresh paint and stripes. Rest in peace, Rocky.
So far, comments in the GT350’s logbook rave about the agile chassis, comfortable yet supportive Recaro bucket seats, and, to no surprise, that explosive exhaust. One staffer even sketched a heart with an arrow through it that contained GT350 and his initials. Awwwww! Critics have pointed out a few unpleasant vibrations transmitted through the shifter—not uncommon for this powertrain—and the inability to hit the redline without breaking the speed limit. Those quibbles are easily forgivable as this steed screams its way toward its first scheduled service.
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