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Detroit show: Ford reveals hottest Mustang

Less is more: Anything that adds seconds to lap times was thrown out of the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R, resulting in the most aggressive and nimble pony-badged car to date.

Ford points tuned-up and stripped-down Mustang Shelby GT350R at the race track

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Ford logo13 Jan 2015

FORD has taken the spanners to its fifth-generation Mustang to develop a manic competition-focused version that beats even the GT350 around the track.

Using the already feisty Shelby GT350 as a starting point, the American car-maker added an R to the Mustang's name by stripping out any hefty equipment that does not benefit lap-times, fettling the aerodynamics and retuning its suspension.

With the equivalent of three bags of cement stripped from its weight and a honed track manner, the new Shelby GT350R is the fastest and most potent Mustang in the pony badge's 50-year history.

Power has not been affected in the modifications but grunt is not in short supply courtesy of Ford's first flat-plane crank V8, which, thanks to dizzying revs, develops more than 370kW and 540Nm of torque from just 5.2-litres and normal aspiration.

The Ford Performance engineering team looked at every element of the GT350's design scrapping or re-engineering anything that compromised the Mustang's pace and handling.

Air-conditioning, sound system, rear seats, boot carpet and floorboard, reverse camera and mobility kit all went in the bin scrubbing 59kg from the kerb weight.

Even metal wheels and exhaust resonators were deemed too heavy, replaced by ultra-modern carbon-fibre rims and a noisier but lighter exhaust system fitted as standard to the Shelby GT350R.

Specially blended Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres wrap the 19-inch composite wheels which measure 11-inches in width at the front and nearly a foot wide at the back end, and save almost six kilograms of unsprung weight.

The chassis was re-tuned to optimise handling and grip. Unique spring rates, anti-roll bars, a lower ride-height, more track-capable wheel alignment and modified MagneRide variable dampener maps were developed for the GT350R.

Finally the aerodynamics were significantly altered with a different front splitter and larger rear spoiler adding downforce and shifting the GT350R's centre of pressure further rearward for vital stability during high-speed track work.

In addition to the functional modifications, Ford has also included a dusting of styling tweaks to identify the new Mustang performance flagship, with red brake callipers, red pin-striping highlighting the Shelby stripes and red GT350R branding added to the interior.

For those hyper-Mustang owners who simply cannot bare to be without the most mandatory of comforts, Ford will leave the air-conditioning, stereo and 6.0-inch touchscreen in place as part of the Electronics Package.

The enhanced and track-honed Mustang goes head to head with Chevrolet's own interpretation of a muscle car for the circuit and its weight-reduced and stiffened Camaro Z/28.

While Australia eagerly awaits the arrival of entry-level EcoBoost and V8 GT variants of the Mustang in the final quarter of this year, neither the Shelby GT350 nor GT350R are chalked for sale Down Under.

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