Giving Last Rights To The Mustang GT350, One Of the Best Mustangs Ford Has Ever Produced
As we (mercifully) move out of 2020 and head toward a new year, it’s a great time to look back at one of the best cars Ford has made in a long time. I am talking about the Ford Mustang GT350 and the high-performance GT350R.
The GT500 will be the only Shelby Mustang Ford will manufacture as of now. Now let’s not diminish or poopoo the incredible 760-horsepower Shelby GT500. It is awesome and we are oh-so-glad it’s being produced.
In this era of Mustangs becoming electric crossovers, and the controversy that’s created. It’s good to see Ford still standing behind V8 engines. And for those not making the switch from V8 to EV, it’s nice to have options.
You’ll recall that I professed my love for the 2007 Mustang GT500 as one of the best Mustangs ever created. Well, I’m putting the GT350 right up on that same pedestal. It was amazing.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the great features of the GT350 and what made it so special.
Ford just ended the production run of the GT350 and GT350R. These two cars were all about performance, thanks to the naturally-aspirated 5.2-liter V8. This engine, nicknamed Voodoo, was good for 526 horsepower and 429 lb.-ft. of torque.
But beyond that awesome engine, the GT350 came standard with the six-speed manual transmission that so many enthusiasts loved. With that manual transmission, and that engine, the GT350 was a muscle car enthusiast dream come true.
Add in the guttural, beautifully tuned exhaust tone of the GT350 and it was music the ears of Mustang enthusiasts.
Paying respect to Mustang heritage
Carroll Shelby’s original GT350 Mustang really revolutionized the Mustang brand. Originally, built with cooperation from Ford by Shelby America, these cars known as “cobras” were built from 1965-1968 by Shelby.
And they were a driving enthusiasts darling with Windsor 289 V8 engine. The GT350R was later produced by Shelby to compete as a race car and got the Mustang qualified as part of the Sports Car Club of America. This was a feather in the cap of Ford, all due to the legendary Carroll Shelby and the highly-collectible GT350 Cobra.
After a falling out with Carroll Shelby, Ford took over production of the GT350 in 1969 and 1970. Ford brought it back to production in 2011. And now this third generation (2015-2020) will be the last one.
Heritage Edition Shelby GT350 R
What a final show of respect to both Carroll Shelby and this awesome muscle car as Ford offered a special-edition GT350 Heritage Edition that paid homage to the original GT350 and to Carroll Shelby.
The Heritage Edition was a great swan song for the GT350 as it was available in Wimbledon White with Guardsman Blue striping. Certainly for a car that is being discontinued, this was really a great final way to send the car off into the sunset.
And really, Mustang enthusiasts understand how important the GT350 name is in Mustang history.
“Looking back on it, what Ford and Carroll Shelby created back in the mid-’60s was so important to Mustang,” said Jim Owens, Ford Mustang marketing manager. “With their authentic exterior livery, unique appointments and performance Ken could have only dreamed of, the Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R Heritage Edition Package vehicles are a meaningful tribute to the legacy of the Shelby brand.”
2021 Mustang Mach 1 Replaces GT350 In The Mustang Lineup
The Mustang Mach 1 is now available for pre-orders.
According to Ford, the Mustang Mach 1 is set to become the most track-capable 5.0-liter Mustang ever, courtesy of a newly designed front end, plus Ford Performance parts from Mustang Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT500 models and an available Handling Package for greater at-limit handling.
Packing a specially calibrated 5.0-liter V8 engine that has a projected 480 horsepower at 7,000 rpm and 420 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,600 rpm, Mach 1 is a fitting celebration of a nameplate born more than 50 years ago.
Integrated into the Mach 1 engine are revised Shelby GT350 components including the intake manifold, oil filter adapter and engine oil cooler, increasing engine oil cooling capability by 50 percent.
And, to appease the purists, the Mach 1, like the GT350, will have the same Tremec 3160 6-speed manual transmission from the Shelby GT350. For the first time, Ford has outfitted the system with rev-matching and the transmission is paired with the GT350 oil cooler system and Mustang GT’s twin-disc clutch and short-throw shifter.
Drivers can also opt for an available 10-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with an upgraded torque converter and unique calibration that enables optimizing torque capability, shift character and overall enhanced performance. A second air-to-oil cooler increases cooling capacity by 75 percent.
Be sure to check out my story on the Mach 1's Handling Package and special wheels.
Is the GT350 Gone For Good?
With Ford, it’s hard to say something is gone forever. Ford is notorious for discontinuing vehicles, then bring them back (Ranger, Bronco, Bullitt).
And one rumor I heard from a Ford insider is that the GT350, in some capacity, will be part of the S650 platform, which will be the next generation of the Mustang. Supposedly it will have a naturally aspirated Coyote V8 engine and make at least 500 horsepower.
If I had to guess, we will see some iteration of the GT350 at some point. The car’s heritage is too important to Mustang and the current GT350 is too good to let it ride off into the sunset forever.
So what do you think Mustangers? What do you think of the GT350 as one of the top Mustangs ever produced? Leave me your comment below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.