Topline: In a press release Monday, Ford announced changes to the Shelby GT350 for the 2019 model year, and its nothing but good news for racing junkies. As usual the 2019 GT350 will act as the perfect balance between the regular Mustang and the track-bred GT350R, but Ford consulted with Billy Johnson, FIA World Endurance driver for Ford GT, to help the GT350 achieve better performance on the circuit.
What's New: For the new model year, Ford Performance chose to focus on improving the GT350's handling characteristics, improving aerodynamics, suspension, brakes, and tires. The grille closeout, rear wing, and optional "gurney flap" on the 2019 GT350 were first developed on the all-new, 700-horsepower GT500.
The GT350's MagneRide active suspension has been outfitted with better springs and dampers, complemented by a re-tuned electronic stability control and electric power steering for more feedback and control.
Larger Brembo brakes now stop the GT350, with six-piston calipers up front and four-pistons in the back.
The GT350's new 19-inch aluminum wheels come wrapped in bespoke Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, 295/35 in the front and 305/56 rear to be exact. Michelin and Ford Performance worked together to create a special tire compound and tread pattern for the Cup 2s on the GT350 to optimize both straight-line and lateral acceleration.
Comfort is the underlying theme on the new GT350's interior. The car comes equipped with Recaro race seats with spots for safety harnesses, but customers can now opt for power-adjusting seats with Miko suede inserts. Dual-zone climate control and a garage door opener are now standard as well, and available options include a HARMAN premium 12-speaker audio system and exposed carbon fiber on the instrument panel.
Along with its current crop of exterior paints, the GT350 can now be had in Ford Performance Blue or Velocity Blue, with optional Kona Blue, Shadow Black, or Oxford White racing stripes if desired.
Quotable: “Somewhere, Carroll is smiling,” said Hermann Salenbauch, global director for Ford performance vehicle programs. “The new Shelby GT350 is our ultimate track Mustang. We’ve stuck to Carroll Shelby’s original formula for winning championships and made our Shelby GT350 even better with the latest in race-proven aerodynamics, tire and chassis technology."
“Along with improved grip, brake and chassis refinements, Shelby GT350 brings a whole new level of performance driving,” Johnson explained. “It’s a rewarding car to drive on track for amateurs and pros alike, while making the driver feel like a superhero. It’s confidence inspiring in corners and begs to be pushed harder and to take corners faster.”
What You Need to Know: While the GT350's 526-horsepower output from its 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 and Tremec six-speed manual transmission remains the same, the new Lamborghini Huracan Performante-esque handling upgrades will make the GT350 an entirely new animal on the track. To prove the car's new-found racing strength, Ford will throw in a free Track Attack program enrollment with every GT350 purchase.
The 2019 Shelby GT350 will be available to buy starting early next year.