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2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang to Feature Automatic Transmission

Last week we all enjoyed the video showing the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang in action on the famed Nurburgring and while we noted the super aggressive body and the precision handling, we skimmed right past one very important point – it sounds very much like the next generation high performance Mustang will feature an automatic transmission.

It should be noted that the Road & Track video showing what is believed to be the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 obviously didn’t come with any official information. However, you can hear the Mustang shift in the video and it is hard to imagine that shifts this smooth and sharp could have come via a manual transmission. It is possible – but not very likely – so it certainly sounds like this Shelby Mustang has a quick shifting automatic transmission.

It should also be noted that the car shown could be some special package that isn’t planned for production, so this might not be the next generation Shelby Mustang at all – but it makes far more sense for this car to be the 2016 Shelby GT350 Mustang…one with an automatic transmission. Click here for a closer look at my initial piece on the Road & Track video.

Why an Automatic Transmission?
There are a handful of practical reasons why the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang can benefit from having a self-shifting transmission, but the biggest reason for the addition of an automatic transmission to the top of the line Mustang package rests in the fact that both of the GT350’s biggest competitors have an automatic transmission. Both the 2014 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and the upcoming 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat come with an automatic transmission option and with the ever growing number of people who want a high performance car without having the coordination to drive a manual transmission; the 2016 Mustang GT350 will have an automatic transmission simply to keep up with the Joneses.

Fortunately, the advancements in automatic transmission technology over the past decade has allowed many high performance vehicles to offer very comparable performance levels between the manual and automatic transmissions so there will be little compromise with the self shifting 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang. Just ten years ago, manual transmissions were the obvious choice for high performance models because automatic transmissions didn’t allow enough control, they couldn’t shift quickly enough and they ate up too much power between the engine and the wheels.

However, the modern automatic transmissions absorb far less power while also offering precision control and lightning quick shifts so you can have a performance car that has the ability to shift on its own without compromising a whole lot of performance.

The 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 should have an automatic transmission option because, frankly, there is no reason NOT to offer one. Some people will hate it – but those people can all buy manual transmission models. Those who do pick the automatic will likely benefit from a great many features that you cannot get from the manual transmission including improved performance (in some situations), lower gas guzzler taxes (or no gas guzzler tax) and improved fuel economy.

The Practical Reasons for an Automatic Shelby Mustang
There are a variety of aspects of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat with the new heavy duty 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that helps show with the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang should also have a self shifting gear box.

First, the 707 horsepower Challenger with the 8-speed automatic transmission offers better fuel economy on the highway, which allows Chrysler hit the consumer with a smaller gas guzzler tax – a cool grand less. Most people who buy ultra high performance muscle cars don’t care all that much about fuel economy but realistically, if you can get the same levels of performance and improved fuel economy, why not… right? Also, that better fuel economy allows for a lower gas guzzler tax which, in Ford’s case, could help ensure that there is no gas guzzler tax at all.

Second – and most importantly - there is a chance that the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang with an automatic transmission could offer better performance for many drivers than a manual transmission. While the manual transmission puts more power to the wheels, an automatic transmission like Chrysler’s new 8-speed allows for steeper gear ratios in the numerically lower gears along with smaller gaps between the gears that lead to even quicker shifts.

These modern high performance automatic transmissions offer quicker shifts than most drivers can achieve with a manual transmission so all out acceleration times are quicker – while also being more accessible for the average driver. At the recent Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat media launch, there were drivers with NO drag racing experience running in the low 12s with the automatic Hellcat. This would obviously not be possible with a manual transmission as the manual models are far more challenging (no pun intended) to get away from the line and down the track smoothly.

We can expect to learn more about the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 after the formal launch of the 2015 Ford Mustang lineup – possibly as soon as the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Image above captured from the embedded Road & Track video.


Joshua (not verified)    July 22, 2014 - 6:31AM

This Mustang shifts to fast for even an automatic transmission. I was on Tremec's website the other day and noticed they have an OEM Dual-Clutch transmission, I wander if this is just a coincidence?

raddoc (not verified)    August 11, 2014 - 10:18AM

In reply to by Joshua (not verified)

Hope it is a dual clutch. Good article about benefits of auto (or automated manuals) vs manual. One additional point, most intermediate and novice drivers on a road coarse will drive consistently faster with an auto, assuming they select the gears manually. There are more mishaps and lost time due to poor rev matching (heel toe shifting), poor threshhold braking during down shifts, missed up shifting, etc with a manual. There is a reason so many GT cars and high end racers use sequential trannys. Can't afford the mistakes a manual introduces to even the best drivers.

Ramon Arbona (not verified)    July 26, 2014 - 8:33AM

finaly ford is making an automatic shelby. m3 porsches ferraris are more fun driving than stick shift and faster automatic. even corvette sells more automatic . now I will buy my shelby automatic thanks ford for understanding the market

Ramon Arbona (not verified)    August 20, 2014 - 6:31PM

You intent to compete with Porsche BMW Audi in Europe all have automatic transmissions. I would never buy a stick shift Shelby.

mj (not verified)    October 30, 2014 - 8:21AM

Interesting...Generally manual transmissions are more desired for sports cars. However, the basic design of a typical manual is very old...technologically one of the oldest components of an automobile. I have driven both extensively and can understand why many insist on a manual. However one thing I did not enjoy about driving a manual is the disconnection of power from the engine to the wheels whenever I step on the clutch. This annoyed me no matter how fast I shifted. With an automatic, I enjoy the continuous flow of uninterrupted power from the engine to the transmission to the wheels. Another development that I have noticed is the number of gears. Little more than 10 years ago, the automatic version of the same model had one less forward gear. I would often prefer the manual because I wouldn't want to sacrifice the extra ratio.Today however, I've noticed that on most models the automatic version has the same number of forward gears as the manual version.

Ramon Arbona (not verified)    February 28, 2015 - 8:02AM

I hope finally ford is doing the wise thing. Make an automatic shelby.If its confirm that fors is really ofering a gt 500 and a gt 350 with automatic transmission Ill buy both cars. lets pray for the good news.

Ramon Arbona (not verified)    March 29, 2015 - 4:26PM

I hope the automatic transmission is a rality on the shelby.If that is true I will buy a shelby in 2016.

HW (not verified)    June 27, 2015 - 12:36AM

It about time that Ford Shelby gets an automatic tranny. I will strong consider buy the 2017 version of it after all the bugs are worked out of it!

Ramon Arbona (not verified)    June 28, 2015 - 2:26PM

automatic transmission with wheel padelshifter Certainly I will buy a shelby which i can use in traffic and have fun with a good radio and air conditioning and race it on weekends.If that the case i would by shelby gt 350 and gt 500 i hope so.Pray for the automatic on both cars

Ramon Arbona (not verified)    August 6, 2015 - 7:18PM

Finaly if you really buils an automatic shelby your sales are going to go sky high.The mayority of corvettes porsches are automatic without leaving camaros.But ford engineers dont hear their costumers.So if next shelby is not automatic I will buy a corvette.

grizzled gunslinger (not verified)    August 12, 2015 - 4:50PM

I have a 2015, 2.3L eco-boost Mustang. It has a 6 speed transmission with paddle shifting for that standard shifting feel, of course. When I'm on the Highway, I always use the standard mode or (S) sport mode. And let me tell you I only need to be in 4th gear and she purrrrrrr's along just great. To have 8 or 9 shifting gears is totally unnecessary. A tractor trailer or Semi only needs 10 gears or more and that's only because they hall freight.

Paul smith (not verified)    December 15, 2016 - 6:06PM

I would seriously contemplate the purchase of a new GT350 when I find an auto transmission. I can drive a stick but my wife can't. Why an auto transmission isn't being offered is beyond me.