Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New Car: 2011 Ford Shelby GT350

Shelby fanatics have waited more than four decades for a new GT350. Beginning in 1965, Ford Mustang GT fastbacks rolled into the Shelby American facility near Los Angeles International Airport. Carroll Shelby and his band of racers, mechanics, fabricators, and engineers then turned them into legend. Ford took over the Shelby Mustang program for 1968, and it was all over just two years later. Ever since Ford and Shelby got back together (for the Shelby-built GT-H Hertz rental program in 2006 and the Ford SVT-produced GT500 beginning in 2007), people have asked the question: "When will the GT350 return?"

The answer is: Now.

The 2011 Mustang GT 5.0 has made it possible. This Camaro fighter, packing all the design revisions and hardware upgrades of the 2010 model plus Ford's new 5.0-liter, DOHC, all-aluminum V-8, gave today's Shelby American (formerly Shelby Automobiles) the foundation it needed to reseed the icon. It's white-with-blue-stripes time, all over again.

The deal to do the car at all had been an on-and-off affair for years, then happened fast. Shelby didn't want to develop a GT350 based on existing 4.6-liter models, only to have to rework the engine package later for the impending 5.0. Everyone was on edge about the economy. And there were already plenty of specialty edition Mustangs on the 2008-09 roster, including the GT500KR and Bullitt. That air has cleared, the new powertrain has arrived, and the GT350 button was pushed late last fall.

Reinterpretation of the mid-'60s look was assigned to veteran automotive designer Larry Wood and in-house designer/development driver Vince Laviolette. Shelby American president Amy Boylan knew Wood from her tenure at Mattel, where he created numerous Hot Wheels models, including a pint-size GT350. "Amy called me," grins Wood, "and asked me if I'd like to try doing a full-size one this time."
Thanks to: Motor Trend

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