When a Ford Mustang is marketed as the “most track-capable production Mustang ever built”, you know it’s a serious piece of machinery – and that’s exactly how the Blue Oval brand is touting the new Shelby GT350R Mustang, which has been unveiled at the 2015 Detroit motor show.
The new Shelby GT350R Mustang follows in the treadmarks of the 1965 road-racing Shelby GT350 Competition, according to Ford, in that this new version is lighter, more powerful and delivers a level of track capability unlike any other Mustang that has come before it.
No exact power figures have been made public but the GT350R is powered by the same 5.2-litre V8 engine seen in the Shelby GT350 with “more than 500 horsepower (373kW) and more than 400 lb.-ft. of torque (542Nm)”, making it the most powerful naturally-aspirated production Ford engine ever made.
Helping get all that power to the road via the rear wheels is a six-speed manual transmission, while the Shelby GT350R features a fettled suspension setup with revised spring rates, anti-roll bars, a lower ride height, and those weight-saving carbonfibre wheels.
According to Ford, the standard lightweight 19-inch rims (11-inches wide at the front and 11.5-inches wide at the rear) help shave almost six kilograms of unsprung mass at each corner of the car.
The wheels are shod in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres that have been specifically developed for the car.
While the Ford GT unveiled at the Detroit show isn’t a stripped-out racer, the Shelby is. In total, about 60kg has been removed from the car.
Ford put the car through a rigorous weight-loss program to make it as fast as possible, and as such, plenty of items deemed non-essential have been removed from the GT350R. They include the air-conditioning system, the stereo, the rear seat, the boot floor and carpet, the reverse-view camera and the tyre inflator and sealant. However, the optional Electronics Package replaces the dual-zone air conditioning, 8.0-inch touchscreen with navigation and seven-speaker audio system, among other items.
According to Ford, resonators from the exhaust system have also been removed “for weight savings” but “with the benefit of creating a sharper exhaust note”.
Aerodynamic changes include a ventilated bonnet, underbody “belly pans” front and rear, a diffuser, vents for the wheel wells, and a revised front splitter that has been reshaped for better downforce. The most visible of the aero changes, however, is the oversized carbonfibre rear wing.
Cooling has been improved, too, with an air-to-oil engine oil cooler fitted for high-temperature work, while the transmission and Ford-tuned Torsen limited slip differential have standard coolers, too.
“This is the pinnacle of performance Mustangs today,” Ford Performance director Dave Pericak said. “The Shelby GT350R Mustang lays the groundwork for a story that will play out for years to come on the track and the street.”
The Shelby GT350R is set to go on sale in North America late in 2015.