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Ford, GT350 Owners Square Off In Suit Over Voodoo Engine

In a class-action lawsuit that Ford is contesting owners of Shelby Mustang GT350s are battling to show that there is a problem with some of the 5.2-liter V-8 "track-ready" engines used in the iconic vehicle.

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Here's a story of a Mustang named Shelby that was retired by the Dearborn automaker. It was called the Mustang Shelby GT350, and it was pastured by Ford in favor of the Mustang Mach 1 a couple of years ago. The GT350's powerplant is Ford's historic Voodoo 5.2-liter V-8.

Engine Boasted Lots Of Torque

According to Muscle Cars and Trucks (MCT) this week, the same engine powered Ford's GT500 and the S550 variant. The sweet-sounding 5.2-liter V-8 put out copious amounts of power and was a hugely torquey engine, boasting an 8,250-rpm redline.

How powerful was the iconic V-8, whose flat-plane crankshaft helped it achieve the revs figure? According to various sources, the engine benchmarking put the power output at 760-horsepower, 526-horsepower, and 480-horsepower. The lowest figure was the one associated with the Mach 1, reintroduced after an absence of 15 years in 2021.

The engine is the flashpoint of a class-action lawsuit brought by a group of unhappy Voodoo owners who believe that the powerplant isn't very track-worthy. Ford has claimed the opposite.

Overheating Claims Brought Owners Together

The unhappy GT350 owners, who came together because their Base or Tech packages had had problems, said their vehicles were subject to overheating after their Mustangs ran at track. The owners claimed that Ford advertised their GT350s as "track-ready," said MCT in its report on the suit. Their suit claims that the automaker removed "the [inter]coolers from lower trims, which take[s] away from the track-readiness."

Ford isn't taking this lying down, of course. Indeed, the automaker is taking the issue to trial. "Ford's legal team has stated there is 'no dispute' regarding the Mustangs, saying that there isn't a 'known design issue rendering them unable to handle typical track driving conditions without prematurely overheating.'”

“The original lawsuit noted that” many GT350 owners experienced a drastic speed and performance reduction on the track,” said MCT, without “’ warning [and] in as little as 15 minutes.’”

Ford's legal counsel said that “under some typical track day sessions, they can indeed go into powertrain protection mode, which the Plaintiffs call limp mode. Because of the generation of heat, to protect the transmission and the differential from damage, the powertrain protection mode limits the performance of vehicles in some respects.”

Lawyers Believe They See Admission Of Fault

Responding to the automaker, lawyers representing the Shelby group said they see this as an admission of fault.

“Ford has refused to fix what they now admit was a deliberate design issue. We believe Ford would allow this case to progress as slowly as its defective track cars. We think Shelby owners have waited long enough,” said an attorney regarding the automaker seeking to delay the class action lawsuit, seeking monetary damages for the plaintiffs.

Meantime, the automaker plans a return to racing in 2024.

Photo Courtesy: Ford Motor Co.

Marc Stern has been an automotive writer since 1971 when an otherwise normal news editor said, "You're our new car editor," and dumped about 27 pounds of auto stuff on my desk. I was in heaven as I have been a gearhead from my early days. As a teen, I spent the usual number of misspent hours hanging out at gas stations Shell and Texaco (a big thing in my youth) and working on cars. It was a straight line to my first column for the paper, "You Auto Know," an enterprise that I handled faithfully for 32 years. Not many people know that I also handled computer documentation for a good part of my living while writing YAN. My best writing, though, was always in cars. My work has appeared in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated, AutoWeek, SuperStock, Trailer Life, Old Cars Weekly, Special Interest Autos, etc. You can follow me on: Twitter or Facebook.

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