The 2015+ Mustang GT is an impressive machine that is an all-around improvement over its predecessors. However, when Ford Performance does its thing to a new Mustang, the results are often the source of envy. That is definitely the case with the latest Shelby GT350. That’s what inspired the crew at AmericanMuscle.com to take an S550 to the next level.
“The goal was to channel the spirit of the GT350 into the body and powertrain of a GT S550 Mustang,” Zachary Wright of American Muscle said. “Despite the base model Mustang’s potent performance, the Shelby GT350 tops everything in its class and sets the benchmark for American muscle cars…”
“For the most part, all of the parts called out here can be installed by any weekend warrior with a set of tools and access to YouTube,” Zachary Wright said of AmericanMuscle.com’s GT350-themed project ’Stang. (Photo Credit: AmericanMuscle.com)
By installing a cat-back system like X-Force’s Varex Cat-Back System, a normal Mustang GT can add a healthy bump in power. — Zachary Wright, American Muscle
Aside from the flat-plane crank, one thing that sets the GT350 apart from other 2015-2017 Mustangs is its user-adjustable exhaust system. To emulate that capability, the AM team turned to a suitable aftermarket option.
“A large factor in the Shelby GT350’s performance is its free-flowing exhaust that not only sounds incredible, but also enhances power. By installing a cat-back system like X-Force’s Varex Cat-Back System, a normal Mustang GT can add a healthy bump in power as well as an electronically controlled exhaust note like the GT350,” Zachary explained. “With the press of a button, the Varex Cat-Back exhaust system opens up and unleashes an aggressive racecar sound that will free up more power from your 5.0-liter engine.”
Likewise, the GT350 offers an optional active suspension that delivers cornering grip that adjusts to the road conditions. There isn’t an aftermarket approximation of this system yet, but sharpening the GT handling to mimic the Shelby was a priority.
“The Shelby GT350’s Magneride suspension helps it corner like it is on rails, setting it ahead of the rest of the competition,” he explained. “While the base-model Mustangs may not have Magneride Suspension, swapping out the factory setup for something like KW’s V1 or V3 Coilover Kit will give you dramatically enhanced handling that would be on par, if not better than the GT350’s handling.”
To emulate the Shelby GT350’s active exhaust, the AM team installed a Varex exhaust system. It features baffles in the mufflers, which are user adjustable via a smartphone app.
Of course, if you are going to sharpen the handling, you need to increase the level of grip available at the road surface to make the most of those new dynamics.
“One of the most noteworthy aspects of the Shelby GT350 is its incredible level of grip that comes from its barely DOT legal tires and race-ready wheels,” Zachary said. “…However, swapping out the stock Mustang GT wheels for a lighter aftermarket set and stickier tires like Michelin’s Pilot Super Sports will give you enhance grip in turns and off of the line.”
After adding all that Shelby-style performance, the AM team couldn’t resist adding legit GT350 style to its S550 project.
American Muscle sharpened the car’s handling and added grip with a KW coilover suspension and a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
Paired with the Shelby GT350 steering wheel, the shift knob can make the interior look as good as the GT350… — Zachary Wright, American Muscle
“…The leather and Alcantara steering wheel features a slim red stripe at the top of the wheel that allows the driver to see exactly what position the wheel is in,” Zachary added. “You back up this race car inspired look with a GT350 shift knob that is a direct replacement for the OEM knob and uses a sinister black, red and silver color scheme found in stock GT350s. Paired with the Shelby GT350 steering wheel, the shift knob can make the interior look as good as the GT350, while carrying over some of that slick performance.”
In all, this project is yet another example that the Mustang remains an incredibly flexible project-car canvas that owners can mod to suit their desires.
To finish off the project in Shelby style, the AM crew added an OG Shelby GT350 steering wheel and shift knob.