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Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang: Detroit Auto Show

What Is It?

Making its world debut at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, the Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang is an even higher-performance version of the awesome Shelby GT350 that premiered barely two months ago at the Los Angeles Auto Show. Like the regular GT350, the R version packs a 5.2-liter V8 engine with an exotic flat-plane crank, a redline surpassing 8,000 revolutions per minute, 500-plus horsepower and a mandatory 6-speed manual transmission linked to a limited-slip differential. Unlike the base model, however, the R gets a bunch of race-ready hardware, and it also loses a lot of creature comforts in the name of reducing weight. For some, that might be overkill, but for a select group of enthusiasts, it’s exactly the way a sport-tuned Mustang should be.

Exterior enhancements for the GT350R start with unique 19-inch carbon-fiber wheels, which save a total of 52 lbs of unsprung weight, according to Ford, in addition to their amazing look. The tires are Michelin’s finest: Pilot Sport Cup 2s that were specifically designed for GT350R duty. To maximize downforce, the souped-up Shelby also gets a larger front splitter and a prominent carbon-fiber rear wing. Aesthetic touches include red-painted brake calipers, special GT350R badging and an optional racing stripe running down the middle of the hood, decklid and rear fascia.

Underneath, the GT350R’s sport-tuned suspension boasts revised spring rates and antiroll bars, a lowered ride, track-tuned alignment settings, revised bushings and a more aggressive calibration for the standard magnetic-ride dampers. Ford also threw in an air-to-oil engine cooler (typically a race-car exclusive) that promises to keep the engine at normal operating temperature no matter how harsh the conditions. A separate cooler for the manual transmission completes the mechanical picture.

Inside, the Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang makes no bones about its track-centric mission. There’s no air conditioning, back seat, backup camera or trunk floorboard. There’s not even a stereo, though the exhaust system will have its resonators removed at the factory, so you might not need anything more than that sweet V8 music blowing out the back. You can add a lot of the missing luxuries back via the optional Electronics package, which throws in dual-zone climate control, an 8-in touchscreen with navigation and a 7-speaker audio system. But given how hard Ford worked to remove a total of 130 lbs from the GT350R’s features list, that seems like it would defeat the purpose. If uncompromising performance is what you’re after, this super ‘Stang looks to be perfect just the way it is.

How Much?

Ford has not yet announced pricing as of this writing.

When Can You Get It?

Estimated third quarter of 2015

Add It to Your Shopping List Because…

You plan to use the GT350R’s astounding capabilities to their fullest. This Mustang doesn’t make a lot of sense as a daily driver, but it should be great fun as a track-day toy.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Chevrolet Corvette Even the base ‘Vette could be a tough match for the GT350R, while the Z06 is a tough match for anything in the world. But the GT350R might be considerably cheaper than a Z06.

2015 Lexus RC F The all-new RC F has an excellent 467-hp 5.0-liter V8 that makes all the right noises, but it remains to be seen whether it can keep up with the Mustang on a track.

2015 Porsche Cayman The Cayman certainly isn’t as hard-edged as the Mustang. But if you want character, luxury and athleticism in the same package, Porsche’s midengine coupe is hard to beat.

Used Dodge Viper Prices for pre-owned Vipers are all over the map, but it might be fun to see how much Viper you could afford with GT350R money.

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