For the moment, the Shelby GT350 peers down from the top of the Mustang mountain. However, given the improvements lavished on the latest Mustang GT, including the vaunted Performance Pack Level 2, the 2019 Shelby GT350 was due for a few improvements to keep its halo glowing the brightest (at least until the GT500 arrives).
The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. — Hermann Salenbauch, Ford Performance
To that end, Ford Performance engineers set out to improve on one of the best Mustangs to date. They didn’t mess with that 526-horsepower Voodoo magic under the hood. Instead, they enhanced its aerodynamics, improved its braking capacity, and increased its traction.
“Somewhere, Carroll is smiling,” Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford Performance vehicle programs, said. “The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology.”
The improvements started at the pavement as all the GT350s now ride on the grippy Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that debuted on the R-model version. Wrapped around new aluminum wheels these 295/35 front and 305/35 rear tires feature a GT350-specific tread pattern and compound.
While there was no need to change the basic beauty of the GT350 body, engineers tweaked the aerodynamics based on the wind tunnel testing used to develop the Ford Performance Mustang racers like the Mustang GT4. This manifestation of the performance division’s mission resulted in a revised grille closeout and a new rear spoiler with a Gurney flap, which pair to deliver measurable aerodynamic improvements that will hasten the GT350.
Along with improved grip, brake and chassis refinements, Shelby GT350 brings a whole new level of performance driving. — Billy Johnson, Professional Race Driver
While engineers used technology to squeeze more speed out of the Shelby, there is no substitute for actionable feedback from a skilled driver. As has been the case lately, engineers turned to the FIA World Endurance Ford GT and IMSA Mustang GT4 driver Billy Johnson to evaluate and adjust those changes to deliver the optimal result.
“Along with improved grip, brake and chassis refinements, Shelby GT350 brings a whole new level of performance driving,” Billy said. “It’s a rewarding car to drive on track for amateurs and pros alike, while making the driver feel like a superhero. It’s confidence inspiring in corners and begs to be pushed harder and to take corners faster.”
2019 Shelby GT350 Improvements
• 19-inch aluminum wheels
• All-new rear spoiler with optional Gurney flap
• Dark Slate Miko suede door panel inserts with accent stitching
• Enhance electric power-assist steering and three-mode electronic stability control settings
• High-performance, custom-tuned 12-speaker B&O PLAY audio system
• New paint options Velocity Blue and Ford Performance Blue
• Optimized grille closeout
• Optional carbon fiber instrument panel
• Optional factory-painted over-the-top racing stripes in Shadow Black, Oxford White or Kona Blue
• Re-calibrated springs and revised MagneRide damping
• Standard Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, 295/35 front and 305/35 rear
All told, Billy says the latest GT350 is more balanced and faster in a straight line and in corners.“The suspension and especially the ABS recalibration is significant,” he added. “This car rotates really well when trail-braking and feels even more tied down. It’s a big step up.”
While most of the upgrades are performance-oriented, the latest Shelby GT350 is available in two new colors Velocity Blue and Ford Performance Blue. It also gains numerous detail upgrades, including new door panel inserts in Dark Slate Miko suede with accent stitching, a wrapped center console, standard Recaro race seats, optional Miko suede power seats, and a custom-tuned 12-speaker B&O PLAY audio system.
The 2019 Shelby GT350 will hit the streets early next year, and like its predecessors, it will come with a free Track Attack school at the Ford Performance Racing School, which we can’t recommend highly enough.