CARROLL SHELBY'S LEGACY LIVES ON
By Al Khoury
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Wherever your automotive loyalties lie, the Ford Mustang should make your shortlist of the most iconic American cars ever produced. The Mustang was officially introduced at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City and is among the oldest automotive nameplates in the U.S. It was a hit right from the start, breaking all sales projections. The “pony car” label was invented for the Mustang and typically denotes an affordable, compact American sports car that emphasizes style and performance.
Ford Division Manager Lee Iacocca wanted the Mustang to be more than a high-seller. The early cars were not very fast or powerful, so Iaccocca made a call to Carroll Shelby. What followed was a lifelong partnership between a corporate carmaker and a man with racing fuel in his blood.
Carroll Shelby was an Army Air Corps veteran who took his talents to the ground following the end of World War II. Shelby American’s website lists his accomplishments, including a 1959 victory at Le Mans in an Aston Martin DBR1.
Though he retired from racing in 1960, Shelby continued working on cars. His partnership with British automotive manufacturer AC Cars produced the legendary AC Cobra in 1962. Shelby American released the car in the U.S. as the Shelby Cobra. The limited-production run used Ford 260 and 289 cubic-inch V-8 engines.
The first Shelby Mustang GT350 vehicles were produced from 1965-66. They were powered by a 4.7-liter Windsor V-8 producing 306 horsepower and 329 pound-feet of torque. The car was offered in roadgoing form as well as an “R” version for the track.
Carroll Shelby passed away in 2012 and his legacy lives on in Ford’s high-performance models. The latest Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350 R were produced from 2015-20 as part of the Mustang’s sixth generation. Oloi’s next featured ride comes from Philip Taylor-Weber, who drives a 2016 Shelby GT350 in Deep Impact Blue over a black interior.
The GT350’s 5.2-liter V-8 makes 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. A six-speed transmission sends those ponies to the rear wheels. The GT350 can shift its 3,760-pound bulk to 60 miles per hour from a standstill in less than 4.5 seconds and continue to a top speed of 190 mph.
With a base starting price of $49,995, the 2016 GT350 came standard with Recaro cloth bucket seats, 19-inch lightweight staggered alloy wheels, 2-piece Brembo disc brakes, launch control, Shelby aluminum instrument panel, and a passenger-side dash plaque displaying the car’s chassis number. Just over 2,000 units were produced for the U.S. market.
Phillip purchased his Shelby GT350 used in March 2020 with 18,000 miles on the odometer and has put on 5,000 more since then. The car came equipped with the track package, which includes the MagneRide damping system, performance-tuned front springs, aluminum front tower strut brace, raised decklid spoiler, and engine oil, transmission, and differential coolers. The previous owner had also installed Maximum Motorsport camber plates.
This Shelby GT350 has seen use as a daily as well as a cruiser and track car.
“I’ve taken it twice to the track twice and it did phenomenal,” Phillip said. “There was no overheating or any other problems. I got this car because of how special it is. First, it’s a manual, which is rare nowadays. And second, it’s a V-8 that revs to 8,000 RPM! Most importantly, I wanted a car that I could take the track without spending so much money.
“My last car was an Infiniti G37 and you know that’s not really a track car. I poured money into it to make it trackable. The GT350 comes with pretty much everything you want. You can take it to the track then drive it back home safe and sound.”
What is it like to drive a car built for the track on a daily basis?
“It’s fairly loud,” Phillip laughed. “The number one thing I like about this car is the exhaust note. People keep questioning if it’s aftermarket but it comes this way from the factory. I got pulled over for it once and I had to explain to the officer that it gets louder when I open up the valves. Switching it into sport or track mode opens up the valves. If we go to a track that has a decibel reader, we either have to change the mode or let off the gas because we know our cars are too loud!
“It handles perfectly well for its weight. The Recaro seats are pretty comfortable. The stock short-throw shifter is notchy when you go into gears and I really like that about the car.”
Phillip has done some basic upgrades to his GT350. He added the Ford Performance air filter and oil air separator, which is like a catch can. He also upgraded the headlights to LEDs and swapped in a CarbonBargain carbon fiber steering wheel. The manual hood struts were replaced with hydraulic struts and the car got some new shoes.
“It does go through tires a whole lot,” Philip said. “I’m a big fan of Michelin so I put Cup 2s on it. It originally had Super Sport tires but I like to go to the track so I changed them and man, those Cup 2s don’t last! I also put a ZL1 front tow hook because that’s mandatory for the track.
“I like the price point of these cars. They’re about $50,000 new and since I got it used, I got a good deal. It was the only car that came to mind when I purchased it. Even now it’s hard to find what I want next other than a Porsche, which is $100,000-plus.”
Phillip will keep GT350 for at least a while, even though he knows he will be looking for other cars. Aside from the Shelby, Phillip also has a 2020 Tesla Model 3 and a 2014 Ford F-150 work truck.
Phillip plans to lower the car and he bought Eibach Pro Kit springs for this purpose. He is considering getting lighter wheels and carbon ceramic brakes. ARP extended wheel studs will provide a wider setup. A rollbar might happen, but that would require removing the rear seat.
“I haven’t gotten bored of it,” Phillip said. “I want to do some more good track days with it. I got into the scene through my brother, who tracks his Subaru BRZ all the time. The GT350 is just so fun to drive.”