Check out this article from Autoweek
2011 Shelby GT350 celebrates the 45th anniversary of the original
By STEVEN COLE SMITH
Confusing? Yes, it probably is. When the bright red 2011 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 appeared on the cover of the June 21 issue of AW, it was logical to assume that legendary car builder Carroll Shelby--who pretty much invented the high-performance Ford Mustang--was substantially involved. And, by association, so was his company, Shelby American.
The overview in the press materials has a quote from Shelby, addressing the 102-pound weight savings from changing the block of the 5.4-liter V8 to aluminum: “‘Cutting weight to improve performance is a tradition among hot-rodders,' said Carroll Shelby, founder of Shelby American. ‘It might not be as sexy as adding more horsepower or bigger brakes, but shaving pounds off of a car is the single smartest move you can make.'”
But that is the only quote from Shelby. All the rest come from Ford Special Vehicle Team people. That's because Shelby, now 87, and Shelby American didn't have much to do with the 2011 Shelby GT500, though to a person, they have nothing but good things to say about the car.
“It's excellent,” says Gary Patterson, vice president of Shelby American. “But I think we may have topped it.”
Here is where it might get a bit muddled. In January, at the Barrett-Jackson auction in Arizona, Shelby American, Carroll's Las Vegas-based company--not Ford--unveiled the 2011 Shelby GT350.
What's the difference? The Shelby GT500 was built by Ford, under a licensing agreement. The GT350 was built by Shelby American, starting with a 2011 Ford Mustang GT, which is much modified into a GT350.
While Shelby no longer turns wrenches, the GT350 has his fingerprints on it.
We drove the 2011 GT350 at the 32nd-annual Mid-America Ford and Team Shelby Nation-als in Tulsa, Okla., which migrated to the nearby Hallett Motor Racing Circuit, the 1.8-mile road course, for a couple of days.
And Patterson might be correct. As good as the Shelby GT500 is--we spent a week in one immediately prior to the trip to Tulsa--the GT350 has a different look and feel and a much different price.
The GT350 begins life as a white 2011 Mustang GT that the customer buys and typically drop-ships to Shelby. There, the Mustang gets a major makeover—upgraded interior, a completely different front and rear, partly styled as an homage to the original 1965 Mustang GT350. While comparisons to the ‘65 aren't always apparent, some exist. The taillights lose the backup lights, which move to small twin lights low on the fascia, just like the 1967 model's, Patterson said. This car is considered the 45th-anniversary edition of the GT350.
While much of this is cosmetic, much isn't. There are functional front- and rear-brake cooling ducts, Baer six-piston front brakes and an Eradispeed rear rotor upgrade, Shelby-Cragar 19-inch wheels, a substantially buttoned-down suspension and Borla dual exhausts that exit beneath the rear license plate through a pair of enormous chromed outlets. And the most important performance update is a Whipple supercharger.
That Ford Racing supercharger sits atop the new Ford 5.0-liter V8 and makes 100 hp more than the one that comes from the factory with 412 hp. Since it has a cubic-inch disadvantage to the GT500's 5.4-liter supercharged V8, the GT350's 512 hp won't top the GT500's 550 hp. And even with the weight savings of the aluminum-block 5.4, the 5.0 is still lighter.
We didn't get to compare performance accurately between the GT500 and the GT350, but our moderately calibrated seat-of-the-pants suggests the GT350 would lose a drag race but win on a tight road course such as Hallett. The special Goodyear tires and the GT350's beefy brakes don't give up lap after hard lap, with repeatable, forgiving handling. The GT350 uses Ford's new electric-assist power steering, and it feels a little more sensitive than it does in the GT500.
Now, that money issue: Ford prices the GT500 coupe at $49,495, plus $3,495 for the “performance package,” which you want. The GT350 starts at $33,995, not including the Mustang GT. A Premium-level GT costs $33,695 retail--invoice is $32,915, but don't expect a break--but you can option up a GT to more than $46,000. We'd suggest calling Shelby American at (702) 942-7325 before you a deposit on a Mustang GT to make sure you order only what you need. Shelby gets to keep the parts it removes from the stock GT.
If this is too much, may we suggest Shelby's normally aspirated model of the GT350 for $26,995, which includes everything but the supercharger? Unless you pop the hood, nothing signals whether the car is supercharged. And having driven that model, too, it's almost as much fun as the supercharged version, and it costs $7,000 less.
Those are the differences between the GT500 and the GT350. Both represent the next level in pony-car technology. The main difference is how much you are willing to pay to get closer to that Shelby aura.
2011 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $33,995 (plus cost of Mustang)
DRIVETRAIN: 5.0-liter, 512-hp, 430-lb-ft V8; RWD, six-speed manual
CURB WEIGHT: 3,750 lb
0-60 MPH: 4.3 sec (mfr)
FUEL ECONOMY: N/A
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