February 10, 2011
The Shelby name is rich in gearhead romance. It conjures up images of heroic American motorsport. To wear those famous stripes and come out of the company’s Las Vegas headquarters, reborn as a race-ready car, represents the best a Ford Mustang can get.
At the 2011 Chicago Auto Show, the Shelby American company introduced a new chapter in its illustrious history: the 2012 GT350 Convertible, available in red, white or blue. Considering Shelby brought out the GT350 Coupe last year, this might seem a tad ho-hum at first glance – but this is the first convertible from the company since 1970. Early Shelby soft-tops are now highly sought after. So heritage, reputation and posterity all have to be considered.
With this in mind, Shelby has decided to make it a limited edition – only 350 will be built for the 2012 model year. To become one of these fortunate few, one must first buy a 2012 Ford Mustang Convertible with a 5.0-liter V8 engine, MSRP: $37,845. Then ship it off to Vegas where the suspension and brakes will be changed, new 19-inch alloy wheels fitted, and an aerodynamic body kit installed along with a set of tail lights that would actually fit on a late-’60s Mustang. Each car gets a Shelby serial number.
Naturally, there’s a serious amount of engine work carried out too, with a choice of keeping it naturally aspirated (as it came from the factory) and running 430 horsepower, or one of two states of supercharged tune. The lowest power number is 525 hp, the highest 624.
To re-create the rumble, growl and bark of a 1965 GT350, Shelby sent the exhaust manufacturer some sound files for reference. John Luft, Shelby American’s president, actually fired the car up inside the halls of the Chicago show. It sounded fantastic. Luckily, he did not attempt to hit the claimed zero-to-60 mph time of 3.7 seconds.
Shelby American’s packages for the GT350 start at $26,995, but to get one fully specced out could send the ultimate bill, including the original cost of the car, to around $90,000. That said, it could become a collector’s item down the road.
COLIN RYAN has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.