The unsuspecting rolling up on the one-of-a-kind 2017 Shelby GT350X might think they are simply viewing one of Ford Performance’s top-dog Mustangs. Built to wow on the racetrack and snarl on the street, the Shelby GT350 features sharp handling and an elastic powerband designed to carve up the road course. How could it get better?
That’s just the question Steeda Autosports answered when constructing the unique Shelby GT350X for a high-profile raffle. With the production Shelby GT350 already turned up to 10. The proper answer to how to make it even better was to turn it all the way up to 11 like Nigel Tufnel.
The overall concept of the car was to build the absolute ultimate GT350. — Bob Adams, Steeda
Regular readers know that we covered the centerpiece of the performance upgrades, which elevated the horsepower and torque output to over 800 ponies at the flywheel. That upgrade is Whipple Superchargers’ 2.9-liter, twin-screw blower, which mounts atop the Voodoo 5.2-liter engine.
A Performance Boost
The Whipple 2.9-liter supercharger just really wakes up the engine and delivered tremendous power. — Bob Adams, Steeda
While there is little to complain about regarding the production GT350, if we had to pick nits, we’d say its off-idle performance is a bit soft. While its engineers clearly skewed the powerband to favor the midrange and top end for track use, on the street it can feel a little lazy at lower speeds. Not so with the 2.9-liter supercharger and a supporting PCM calibration in place.
The GT350X is a halo vehicle for us. — Bob Adams, Steeda
Though we are happy to take Mr. Adams at his word, it was a lot more fun to visit the Dream Giveaway garage in Clearwater, Florida, to put our camera on the Shelby GT350X in the flesh — and sneak in a little seat time. It was rare opportunity in a one-of-a-kind machine.
“The GT350X is a halo vehicle for us,” Bob said. “When you initially look at the car, you know that something is special about it — that there is something different about it. Once you study it longer and then ultimately drive it, you see that indeed, it is the ultimate GT350 available anywhere.”
As we walked toward the glistening GT350X parked in the Dream Giveaways garage, we were taken by just how well the car had turned out. The additional badging differentiates this machine without being overt. The subtle touches like the stripes forming an X over the trunklid really worked as well. In all, this machine definitely looks special and its lucky winner won’t another driving toward them.
Having considerable seat time in the modern Shelby GT350 under our belts, we felt right at home sliding into the standard seats, depressing the clutch and jiggling the shifter into neutral. Engaging the red start button the flat-plane-crank Voodoo engine snarls to life. The gentle throb of the idle through the quad-tip active exhaust belies the performance lurking underhood.
Steeda GT350X Mods
• Brushed-aluminum GT350X grille emblem
• Color-coded Lightning Blue “supercharged” side rocker stripes
• Color-coded “supercharged” hood callouts
Steeda G-TRAC Suspension fender badges
• Color-matched GT350X emblem on the rear fascia
• Body-colored rear fascia
• Body-colored rear spoiler with Lightning Blue over-the-top striping
• GT350X sill plates and dash plaque
• GT350X wheel center caps
• Raised white-letter Nitto drag radials
• GT350X callouts embroidered on the front seats
• Steeda two-point G-Trac brace
• Steeda billet oil separator
• Steeda independent rear suspension subframe brace
• Steeda independent rear suspension alignment kit
• Steeda camber plates
• Steeda clutch helper spring
• Steeda adjustable rear toe link
• Steeda billet aluminum integral/vertical links
• Steeda rear sway bar
• Steeda rear camber arm brackets
“At Steeda, we strategically engineer our suspension and performance upgrades to work in harmony together — it is a purposely thought-out suspension package wherein the parts work in harmony together. Many people make the mistake of buying Part A from one supplier, and then Part B from another and then put them together on their car expecting great results,” Bob explained. “Unfortunately, that is not always the case as sometimes the parts may ‘fight’ each other because they were not engineered together. Our performance parts are engineered to work in complete harmony with each other with the ultimate goal of achieving optimum handling and a balanced ride. For example, our sway bars, springs, and shocks all are specifically tuned to work together, rather than fighting with one another.”
Pedal to the Floor
Those parts certainly worked in harmony as we found an open stretch of road and unleashed the Whipplecharged Voodoo powerplant. We ripped through the two gears and it felt glorious, but we quickly lifted before arriving at felony velocity, which was fortunate. Not much farther down the road some 30 police vehicles were parked along the road performing some sort of radar detection training. Whew.
Having spent time around supercharged GT350s, we had never driven one. After being put under that blown Voodoo spell for the first time, we had to have more. Once we found some twisty pavement, we laid into the throttle. The power swells with RPM, but it doesn’t hit with the gut punch we would expect from a positive-displacement blower on a modern V8. It swells rapidly in a more linear fashion and just keeps zinging toward the limiter. It’s different, but it feel so good.
The Steeda G-Trac suspension gracefully applied the power to the pavement with those sticky Nitto 555-G2 tires and carved up the corners with ease. Eventually we had to go for the brakes, but we didn’t want to stop mainlining that sharpened speed. It was sad to lift our right foot, but the grin sustained long after we begrudgingly returned the keys.
“While the GT350 and GT350R are amazing vehicles in their stock configuration, with the Steeda G-Trac suspension components that we have added the overall handling is dramatically improved and the speeds going into and out of a curve are increased dramatically,” Bob added. “Overall handling is just like you would want it, the car goes where you aim it with precision. In addition, and perhaps most importantly, the performance upgrades that we have for the rear (IRS) provide substantial grip improvements without any axle hop.”
With more grip and more power, the Shelby GT350X offers the performance to back up its one-of-a-kind pedigree. The lucky winner of this raffle prize will drive away with an amazing ride (and a companion 1965 Shelby GT350X built by Classic Recreations), and if they want to toss us the keys, we’d love the chance to drive it again.