Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
August 8, 2011

Tuned-up, turnkey Mustangs are a bit like pop stars. They are all dolled up to set themselves apart from the crowd. However, once they gain attention with their looks, it's the substance of their work that gives them staying power. In short, it's easy to draw a crowd, but keeping them around is more of a challenge.

In the case of the Shelby GT350, the bodywork completely revamps the appearance of the latest Mustang. Obviously the goal was to revisit the historic vintage GT350s, while pushing the looks of the modern Mustang forward. From the Cragar wheels to the Le Mans stripes, the modern GT350 definitely reminds you of its forefathers. However, this visage has been polarizing for Mustang enthusiasts. We had a tough time with the photos of the car but it's a bit more attractive in person.

No matter what our thoughts are, the car certainly drew positive reviews from the non-enthusiast public. There's simply no mistaking that this car is something above and beyond the everyday Mustang. It's truly amazing that the Shelby name still carries such clout some 40 years later.

"Our goal was to build the ultimate small-block muscle car," said John Luft, president of Shelby American. "The results show that the Shelby GT350 takes American performance to an entirely new level. In recent tests, the standard supercharged car hit 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, and ran the quarter in 12 seconds flat at 121.4 mph, all while generating 1.05 g of lateral acceleration and stopping from 60 mph in only 107 feet. We believe the R-tuned GT350 will be even faster."

Of course, the looks are only part of the equation. Surely Mustang owners like to grab some headlines, but for us, the true measure of a 'Stang is where the power meets the pavement. Till this point we have almost avoided driving a Coyote-powered Mustang with a superchargerùbecause we knew we'd want one. On its own, the latest 5.0 is intoxicating. Coupled with boost, this engine offers the best kind of trip. The addition of the Ford Racing/Whipple twin-screw blower simply magnifies the positives of the latest Mustang engine.

Obviously this blower boosts the bottom end a bit, but just like the naturally aspirated version, it's in the midrange that the blown 5.0's power takes off and heads for the sky. It just keeps pulling and pulling. This car really comes off like a middleweight version of the GT500. The power is there, but there simply isn't as much mass over the front end.

Having a roaring waterfall of power does no good if you can't put it to the ground, and fortunately that isn't a problem with the GT350. While we didn't have a chance during our few days with the car to hit a racetrack, we did try it out on our favorite highways and byways, and it acquitted itself well. On a sweeping turn, you keep feeding it power and the grip just keeps digging in, which is a testament to the Eibach dampers and FRPP goodies that encompass the GT350's underpinnings. Likewise, the Shelby/Baer brakes were up to the task of reeling in all that speed.

In everyday driving, our GT350 experiences were hit and miss. Like a pop star that hit the party scene a bit too often, our tester was obviously a bit hung over. Our brief stint in the car came at the tail end of a long run of test drives by the automotive media. These are some of the hardest miles a car can experience, so we're willing to forgive and forget the bald tires, transient vibrations, and stalling. This car was clearly in need of some TLC by the time we grabbed the wheel. After one squeeze of the throttle, however, all was forgiven.

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