Ford Takes The Covers Off New Hardcore Shelby GT350R Mustang

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This is a big day for Mustang and muscle car fans throughout the world, as Ford officially unveiled the all-new Shelby Mustang GT350R, it's most track-capable production Mustang ever built.

The GT350 name goes way back to 1965 when Ford and Carroll Shelby developed a racing version of the Mustang and called it the GT350 Competition Model. It was lighter, more powerful and had a better suspension than the regular model, and so it became one of the most iconic Mustangs ever produced.

Later on this year, we'll be getting the modern-day version of that car, the new Shelby GT350R, introducing innovations in aerodynamics, chassis engineering and light-weight construction. Ford group vice president of Global Product Development Raj Nair stated that " The Shelby GT350R Mustang is a no-compromise car in the pursuit of maximum track capability" and that "It is a thoroughbred street car making use of technology and ingenuity to deliver performance few enthusiasts have ever experienced."

The GT350R features Ford's first ever production V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft - the most powerful naturally aspirated engine Ford has ever produced, along with a specially tuned suspension. It's fitted with revised spring rates and antiroll bars, it has a lower ride height, unique track-tuned alignment settings, revised bushings and jounce bumpers, cross-axis ball joints in the front suspension and revised calibration controlling the MagneRide dampers.

According to Nair the Shelby GT350R Mustang is also "a car with the nimbleness and power delivery you want on a road course". He said that "It isn't just about horsepower. The Shelby GT350R is an all-around balanced athlete - one that is extraordinarily precise and agile".

To us, this sounds like they've been paying really close attention to the Camaro Z/28 - Chevy's own track-oriented no-compromise, all-around balanced athlete. And just like the Z/28, the Shelby GT350R has gone to great lengths to drop some serious weight. It is more than 130 pounds lighter than the Shelby GT350 Track Pack model and items such as air conditioning, the stereo system, rear seats, trunk floorboard and carpet, backup camera and emergency tire sealer and inflator have all been removed, along with the exhaust resonators - which in turn also helps the car have a sharper exhaust tone.

For customers who seek a bit more comfort out of their GT350R, Ford is offering optional dual-zone air conditioning, 8" touchscreen sat-nav, seven-speaker audio system, and turn signal mirrors, all part of the Electronics Package.

In the aerodynamics department, the Shelby GT350R features a hood vent for heat extraction and lift reduction, underbody belly pans front and rear, an aggressive diffuser, vented wheel wells, turbulence-reducing fender vents, wheel air curtains and side skirts.

As for the powertrain, we're looking at a new 5.2 liter dual-overhead-cam V8, which is Ford's first ever production V8 with a flat-plane crankshaft - the type of architecture you normally find in real race cars or some of the best European sports cars.

The V8 is the most powerful naturally aspirated production Ford engine ever, delivering more than 500 horsepower and over 400 lb-ft (542Nm) of torque.

Aesthetically, the Shelby GT350R is a stunner, a proper muscle car featuring distinct design details such red painted brake calipers, racing stripes, Shelby GT350R badging plus carbon fiber wheels, a large front splitter and a rear wing. Inside you get high-contrast red stitching, more Shelby badging and a D-shaped sports steering wheel.

The limited-production Shelby GT350R will be available in the US and Canada later this year and is one of more than 12 new Ford Performance vehicles coming before 2020. Seems like Ford has really been paying attention to Dodge, Chevrolet and even Cadillac getting the jump on them with so many performance models.