Tech It Out: Ford Fine-tunes Shelby GT350 for Better Lap Times

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

While the mainstay Mustang received a new face this year, the Shelby GT350 will persist with the older model’s mug through 2019. We don’t particularly mind, as its unique bumper already makes it look better than a standard coupe. Besides, the GT350 is supposed to be about driving excitement and setting blistering lap times — which is exactly where Ford spent its R&D money for the 2019 model.

Of course, the biggest upgrade the factory bestowed on the new Shelby is something you could have theoretically done at home. Working with Michelin, the Ford team engineered new set of Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires with a GT350-specific tread pattern and a different rubber compound that promises significantly improved acceleration, lateral grip, and braking performance. While you may not have had access to the brand new Cup 2s, you could have nabbed some Pirelli Trefeo Rs or opted for a set of full-on racing slicks. Just be sure to limit them to track use only.

Ford claims the 295/35 (front) and 305/35 (rear) donuts are optimized to improve stiffness. You’ll find them draped over 19-inch aluminum wheels, which are also new. But they’re not the only upgrades the GT350 sees for the coming year.

Aero improvements include an optional Gurney flap (available after launch), which was implemented after wind tunnel testing suggested why the hell not. There are also standard drag enhancements by way of a new rear spoiler and optimized grille closeouts. Apparently, the Shelby is cool enough to allow for such a change without the risk of overheating.

A trio of 2016 Shelby GT350 owners collectively sued Ford last year, claiming their cars went into “limp mode” on the track. From 2017 onwards, Ford installed a track package that includes transmission and differential coolers as standard equipment, and we don’t suppose the automaker would go ahead and block more air from passing through the engine bay for the sake of aerodynamics if engine overheating concerns existed.

The Shelby’s springs have also been rejiggered, along with the sway bars and MagneRide dampers. While it doesn’t sound like much hardware has been swapped, Ford seems to have tweaked everything to complement the new wheels and aerodynamics.

Sticking with the 5.2-liter V8, the GT350 will continue delivering 526 horsepower and 429 foot-pounds of torque as the unit screams up to its 8,250-rpm redline. It will also keep the Tremec six-speed manual transmission and Brembo brakes.

New colors for the 2019 Shelby GT350 include Velocity Blue and Ford’s signature “Performance Blue.” Stripes remain an option in either black, white, or blue, and some new interior cues have been added to distinguish it from the 2018 model. You also get some new materials for the instrument panel and door inserts. The average person probably won’t notice and the hardcore driving enthusiast likely won’t care, but it’s always nice to have options. Sales begin early next year.

[Images: Ford Motor Co.]

Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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3 of 4 comments
  • Stingray65 Stingray65 on Jun 12, 2018

    The perfect grocery getter for LeMans and an amazing amount of car for the money, but I guess you need to budget about 5 grand per year for tires if you own one of these, and more than that if you track it regularly.

    • Raph Raph on Jun 12, 2018

      Probably closer to 3k but on the other hand if you dont mind giving up some grip Michelin has the same size in the Pilot Sport Super Sport and they can go 20k plus but yeah it's good way to ruin a proper performance car.

  • "scarey" "scarey" on Jun 12, 2018

    Hide the children ! That is a bad-ass beast !

  • Lou_BC Collective bargaining provides workers with the ability to counter a rather one-sided relationship. Let them exercise their democratic right to vote. I found it interesting that Conservative leaders were against unionization. The fear there stems from unions preferring left leaning political parties. Wouldn't a "populist" party favour unionization?
  • Jrhurren I enjoyed this
  • Jeff Corey, Thanks again for this series on the Eldorado.
  • AZFelix If I ever buy a GM product, this will be the one.
  • IBx1 Everyone in the working class (if you’re not in the obscenely wealthy capital class and you perform work for money you’re working class) should unionize.