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LA show: Ford unleashes Mustang Shelby GT350

Do you even lift: The new Shelby GT350 is built upon the sixth-generation Ford Mustang, only lower, wider and powered by a Ford-first flat-plane crank V8 engine making over 370kW, its most potent naturally aspirated motor to date.

Brand new V8 engine to power the specially-tuned Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

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Ford logo21 Nov 2014

FORD'S new flagship Mustang Shelby GT350, powered by its most powerful naturally aspirated production engine ever, has made its debut at the Los Angeles motor show and could potentially find its way Down Under.

Although power figures have yet to be confirmed, the newly developed V8 engine will make more than 370kW of power and over 540Nm of torque.

This new engine is recognised as Ford's first ever flat-plane crank V8 engine, an engine design shared with the Ferrari 458, McLaren 650S and Porsche 918 Spyder.

By comparison, Ford's current Aussie-bound V8-powered Mustang GT cranks out 325kW/542Nm from a 5.0-litre motor, the same engine found in the final Ford Falcon XR8, which produces 335kW/570Nm thanks to the introduction of a supercharger.

The other Mustang hitting Aussie shores in mid-2015, the 2.3-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost, is good for 231kW of power and 320Nm of torque thanks to direct injection, variable cam timing and a twin-scroll turbocharger.

Speaking with GoAuto, Ford Australia brand communication manager Neil McDonald did not rule out the possibility of bringing the hot Mustang to Australian shores.

“At the moment we are concentrating on launching the EcoBoost and GT Mustangs, we haven't even thought about the Shelby at this stage,” he said.

The last Shelby-badged Mustang to go on sale was the Shelby GT500, only available in the US, which ended with a 494kW bang after a nine-year lifecycle.

Ford Global Performance Vehicles chief engineer Jamal Hameedi said that the engine is “essentially an all-new powerplant unique to GT350 – and one that takes true advantage of the new chassis dynamics of the Mustang platform”.

Power will be fed to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission with the help of a Ford-tuned Torsen limited-slip differential.

The wheels themselves will also see a significant upgrade thanks to wider 19-inch wheels that are 10.5-inches wide at the front and 11-inches wide at the rear, significantly larger than the 9.0/9.5-inch hoops on the Mustang GT.

Behind the wheels sit massive cross-drilled 394mm brake rotors with Brembo six-piston callipers at the front and 380mm rotors with four-piston callipers in the rear, which will provide the Shelby GT350 with substantial stopping power.

Ford has tweaked the suspension to keep the new top-spec Mustang planted around the corners, giving it magnetically controlled dampers, another first for the American auto-maker, lowering the ride height and tweaking spring rates and bushings.

Style-wise, the tail end is almost identical to the existing Mustang GT, with the exception of a small boot-lid spoiler and a large functional rear diffuser used to provide additional downforce that can even channel cool air into an optional differential cooler.

The front end however, may look similar to the existing Mustangs, but Ford claims that, “all bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to this high-performance model.”

A lower and more aggressively-styled aluminium hood, which is fitted closer to the engine, sits in front of the driver with functional outlets for heat extraction that also reduces under bonnet lift.

The front fenders are widened to make room for the fatter wheels and include functional vents used to direct airflow smoothly along the body of the GT350.

A new, lower front splitter is also added to the Shelby for a more aggressive front fascia.

Moving inside the Mustang, the GT350 gets custom-designed Recaro bucket seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel with chrome finishes toned down to reduce glare and distraction.

Ford design director Chris Svensson said that any changes made to the Mustang were down to enhance how it drives.

“Everything we changed on the GT350 is purely functional-driven design, with the goal of improving the overall performance of the car,” he said.

“We optimised the aero shape of the car, and then fine-tuned what was left to increase downforce and cooling airflow.”

The Shelby GT350 is expected to hit roads, and racetracks, sometime in 2015.

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