- Ford confirmed on Thursday that it will end production of the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R, two of its highest performance Mustangs, this fall.
- The two are some of the best Mustangs ever made, and certainly among the greatest sports cars available today.
- It’s unlikely buyers will see a mass-produced sports car like the GT350s from Ford again, but I’m open to being proven wrong.
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Sadder still is the fact that this likely marks the end of an era — one where Ford gave a mindless dedication to the GT350’s particular breed of loud, ridiculous, manual-transmission V8 sports cars. Chicken soup for the enthusiast soul, all dried up and flaking from the bowl.
First reported by Car and Driver last week, Ford confirmed the news of the GT350’s death to Business Insider in an email. “With the 760-horsepower Shelby GT500 now in full stride, we will finish production of Shelby GT350 and GT350R this fall as planned,” a spokesperson wrote.
The Shelby GT350 and GT350R might sound like they have names generated from alphabet soup, but they are a nod to the famed Shelby GT350s from the 1960s — more powerful and performance-focused versions of the regular Mustangs of the day.
The current cars follow very much in that same vein: They produce 526 claimed horsepower to the regular V8 Mustang’s 460, and they start at $60,440 — or nearly $25,000 more than the base V8.
The GT350 could be dismissed simply as just another too-expensive Mustang, but I invite anyone who thinks that to drive the thing. It might look like just another striped muscle car, but it’s easily one of the best sports cars on the market today.
At its heart are two things that make it great: a crisp Tremec six-speed transmission and the Voodoo V8 engine.
The Voodoo is a naturally aspirated, 5.2-liter V8 that makes a claimed 526 horsepower. It has a flat-plane crankshaft — technology that’s more often found in race cars than in cars you or I could typically buy. Flat-plane crank engines rev faster, rev higher, and are generally much louder. These are things you want in a shouty Mustang.
The Voodoo compliments all of the other performance bits on the GT350. The balance is perfect. It’s fast, but the chassis, steering, and brakes handle the power so well that you never feel terrified or out of control (unless you’re doing something dumb). Third gear is your power gear. Put that car into third, floor it, and you’ll feel like you’re knocking on the sky.
The current GT350 launched in the 2015 model year and will have run for six total model years by the end of its production. That’s a good, healthy run for a sports car.
Ford mentioned that the GT500 is still around, and that the limited-edition 2021 Mustang Mach 1 will come with the GT350’s Tremec six-speed manual transmission, but neither of these cars are the same as the GT350.
The GT500 is, quite plainly, too powerful, and it lacks a manual transmission. The Mach 1 doesn’t have the Voodoo engine.
It’s unlikely that Ford will make another car like the Shelby GT350 again. A naturally aspirated, flat-plane V8 mated exclusively to a manual transmission? No way. Not with the way manuals are becoming less and less popular, or with the way manufacturers’ focus continues to shift further toward electrification.
At most, if a car like the GT350 happens again, it will be a limited-run special edition and it’ll cost an exorbitant amount of money.
But if Ford makes another Shelby like this one — and makes it available in plentiful numbers and for a long model run — I’ll be the first to issue an apology. You read it here.