Based on the new Mustang chassis, Ford says the GT350 will boast not just ample power — more than 500 hp — but better handling than any Mustang the company has produced in the past 50 years, with technology far beyond what Shelby could have envisioned in 1965.
Cross-plane crankshafts have been the standard for V-8s since the 1920s. If that see-through V-8 had a flat-plane crankshaft, a pair of pistons would always raise and lower in concert, like two four-cylinder engine banks bolted together.
It’s called a flat plane because the connecting rods of the pistons lie 180 degrees from each other, rather than being offset 90 degrees as in a cross-plane.
The first V-8s were built with flat-plane cranks, but fell out of favor because the firing order creates harsh vibrations that have to be dulled with special weights or more expensive engine parts.
Yet a flat-plane V-8 can rev higher and produce more power pound-for-pound, which is why it’s usually chosen for racing machines and modern supercars; every Ferrari V-8 is a flat-plane design.
Ford says the new 5.2-liter V-8 unveiled in the GT350 will be the most powerful naturally aspirated production engine it's ever built, with an unspecified power of more than 500 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, all of which routes through a six-speed manual and limited-slip differential.
And it’s not just the engine. For the first time, a Mustang will leave the factory with magnetic shocks, which allow for millisecond-level adjustments.
The bodywork from the windshield forward is unique to the GT350, as are the 15.5-inch brake rotors with six-piston Brembos on the lightweight 19-inch front wheels. Inside, the GT350 has five driver modes for street-to-track work, and Ford even ripped out brightwork trim to lower glare.
Carroll Shelby often told a (likely) tall tale about naming the first Shelby GT350 in 1965; it was, he said, the number of steps between buildings at his shop. We won’t have to wait long to find out how many steps separate the new GT350 from the pack on the track.