Friday, April 29, 2016

The 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R

All-Day Track Car That’s Also Street Legal


Oma was pretty eager to interview Jim Owens at the 2016 West Palm Beach Barrett Jackson Auction. Owens, a Ford Performance Marketing Manager, heads up the GT350 marketing team. Remarkably, he worked at Shelby American before returning to Ford and knew the legendary Carroll Shelby well. Jim Owen has also been very active with Ford Racing and their NASCAR Program.

Thereby, who better to school me on the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R? For those of you who are unaware, the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R is all about performance and Jim Owens was extremely enthusiastic and passionate about this high precision machine.

“This is a Sear Point / Watkins Glen Road Course car; that is more what Carroll Shelby was known for in the sixties,” Jim narrated. “In the next two or three years, it is our goal to get this car in to the hands of people who want to go out on the track. We designed the Ford Shelby GT350R as the most track capable mustang ever!”

After signing the proper releases and blowing into the breathalyzer, Oma was treated to an extremely fast lap around the makeshift track housed behind the auction tents. 

I felt as if I were the co-pilot in a dialed in NASCAR Sprint Cup car on a hot lap.

My driver Stan informed me about the 5.2L modular engine, nicknamed Voodoo, which is running a flat plane crankshaft, giving the engine plenty of RPM and an exotic exhaust note*. 

While I am still not sure what all that actually means, I can tell you that the car accelerates and handles astonishingly. 

I believe we were able to top out at approximately eight-five miles per hour on the constricted course.

The Shelby GT350R also boast of a TREMEC Six-Speed Manual. This transmission is much lighter and stouter than the gearboxes that were offered on previous Mustangs. It appears that every aspect of Shelby GT350R is built for track competency.

Lyn St. James test drove the GT350R,” Owens informed, “when she got out of the car, she stated that this was the first car she would actually take straight from the dealership to the track. . . . . that is what we would like this car to be.”

Incredibly, Jim went on to explain that the drive mode system in the 2016 Ford Shelby GT350R incorporates a collection of different features with an end result that the car can be optimized for a road course, a drag strip, spirited street driving, normal street driving and even wet roads – with Normal, Sport, Weather, Track and Drag modes. Oma was enthralled.

The advantage of this Mustang’s Drive Mode system is to optimize the capabilities and comfort in appropriate situations, while allowing drivers to decide how stiff or how soft they want their high performance American muscle car to be when they hit the road. It is obvious that someone obsessed over getting every detail of design spot-on. 

The original Shelby GT350 was introduced in 1965. This all-new Shelby GT350R Mustang is an amazing world-class performance vehicle, designed to conquer both the street and track. It is attractive in every way and Oma was impressed with both the car’s aesthetics and thrilling performance. I would love to own one!

I am just fan-ish enough to get a pure sense of joy from this vehicle that Carroll Shelby must have felt as he helped shape the history of racing. 

* The 5.2 L TI-VCT V8 engine with flat plane crank produces 526 horsepower at 7500 rpm and 429 pound-feet of torque at 475. It harbors in its belly a flat-plane crankshaft with throws spaced every 180 degrees, like a four-cylinder—and also like a Ferrari V-8.

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