2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: 10 Things You Learn While Driving the Beast

The Shelby GT350 is one of the most thrilling cars you can buy. Period. Add in the fact that it starts at less than $50,000, and it’s also one of the best sports car bargains around.

This makes the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 a magical car and a very rare type of beast. Here are 10 things I learned while driving it:

Everyone Wants to Talk To You

This is not a pretentious sports car. The Mustang has always been one of the most accessible sports cars you can buy, and just by looking at it and hearing it, people know this Shelby is different. The result of this is that people freak out and engage you, which they wouldn’t do with, say, a Lamborghini because they assume the driver is a hoity-toity rich person who doesn’t care for the common man.

At nearly every stoplight, people were asking me to rev the engine, dads were pointing the car out to their kids, bros gave thumbs up and mouthed profanities, people walked into poles while craning their necks to look at the car, and other Mustang drivers gave you the nod of approval. One particularly hilarious thing I overheard was, “S–T! It’s a girl driver!”

ALSO SEE: 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Review

It Sounds like a Summer Thunderstorm

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-20

There’s nothing like the sound of a big, naturally aspirated American V8. And with all this flat plane crank business, the Shelby sounds like a thunderstorm in the hottest, most humid days of summer, where you can feel the deep sound reverberating in your bones. Even when driven gently, the menacing idle serves as a warning to other drivers not to f–k with you.

The Exhaust Switch Will Become Your Favorite Switch in the World

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-16

As if the Shelby’s thunderous exhaust didn’t sound good enough in “regular” mode (I use that term very loosely), it comes with a switch to open the exhaust even more. That thunderstorm of sound then transforms into more of a tropical hurricane that thrashes with the violence of an angry deity with months of pent up anger to expel. Even at idle, the note is more hostile, but under full throttle or a rev-matched downshift, it sounds even more glorious.

I am deaf now. Goodbye.

It’s One of the Worst Cars Ever for People in the City

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-16

I live in the city, I drove the Shelby everywhere, and it was maddening. The GT350 is essentially built for the track, which means its suspension is very unforgiving in the city where you have potholes, broken pavement and street car tracks to deal with. I often found myself wincing in pain as the wheel hit an unexpected break in the pavement. Driving on ramps or steep driveways also made me particularly nervous because the car sits so low that the risk of scraping the chin splitter is very real. Sitting in stop and go traffic in a Shelby or driving down narrow lanes is a good way to increase your blood pressure – the car feels much wider than it actually is and it can be difficult to gauge exactly where the front corners are.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-16

However, this doesn’t mean it’s difficult to drive. It’s not some unwieldy beast. In regular everyday driving, as long as the roads aren’t a mess, the Shelby is shockingly easy to drive: The manual shifter is intuitive and the gates are perfectly defined, the clutch is springy and not as heavy as you’d think, and the steering isn’t overly heavy.

You Need a Track Membership … or Police Friends

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-16

Driving the Shelby, you often find yourself short shifting it because there’s no legal way on public roads you can get it all the way to its 7,500-rpm peak torque sweet spot, or even further to its 8,200-rpm redline. You’ll run out of road or be arrested long before you’re even close. If you don’t get your car impounded for speeding, you’ll probably get charged with disturbing the peace.

ALSO SEE: Ford Offers Mustang Shelby GT350 Owners Free Track School

This is a World-Class Sports Car

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-16

People are going to hate me for saying this, but this engine is so good that it wouldn’t feel wrong in a Ferrari. There are huge amounts of power available at all times, and power delivery is smooth and linear. This 5.2-liter naturally aspirated flat plane crank V8 with 526 hp and 429 lb-ft of torque is one of my favorite engines ever. The coupe always feels planted and it never feels like it will kill you at a moment’s notice. Yes, it accelerates like a freight train in a straight line, but the Shelby GT350 isn’t afraid of corners either.

Grip. So Much Grip.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350-16

We tried to do donuts last fall with the GT350 (shh), but the enormous tires have so much grip that it made it very difficult. But the happy ending to this story is that the Shelby is difficult to upset, which means it inspires confidence when getting up to silly hijinks. Your fear of becoming internet famous for stuffing a Mustang into a lamp post after a car meet probably won’t become a reality with the Shelby because it grips the road so well.

ALSO SEE: Ford Mustang GT Convertible Review

SYNC3 is Pretty Good


The infotainment system works really well: it’s responsive, it’s intuitive, and the menus are easy to navigate. Simple things like allowing to input an address all at once in one line instead of having to move to new fields is a simple thing that makes a big difference in usability. But, to be honest, I had the radio off the whole time and never even connected my phone because I’d rather just drive around with the windows down so I could listen to all that Shelby anger.

The Whole Interior is Spot On

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The Recaro seats hug you, the suede steering wheel feels great to hold, the controls all have an intuitive layout, and there are no mysterious buttons. Everything is where you’d expect it to be. My only complaint is that the cupholder part of the center console is too high up and especially when there’s a cup (or cellphone) in there, it blocks access to the shifter.

I Love It. So Much.

I was lucky enough to be driving a Maserati Quattroporte after the Shelby GT350, but I missed the Mustang so much, that all week, my attitude towards the Italian was just “meh.” There’s so much the Shelby gets right: value, performance, sound, style, ease of use, accessibility, exclusivity, and, most importantly, it’s engaging in all the right ways.

The Verdict: 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

The 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 is the sports car bargain of the century. It’s one of the most engaging and exciting cars on sale right now, and the fact that you can have one for under $50,000 is unbelievable. This is a car I’d be more than happy to own.

Discuss this story on our Ford Mustang Forum

  • Eric Cameron

    I need to test drive this car somehow, some day…

  • Bernard Walker

    Eco boost set up .Plus .2 liters .500 hp target .done . work out in germany (ring). Done . Then take v6 twin turbo not on option list yett .done. V6 tt has 540 hp 500 pd ft torque . better mileage and easy city. Same police .3 sec lap quicker . yes 3 full secs . um noo traction bar . Ssh .upgrades in design make a ? R pony .clappa clappa ?⌚?⌚?

  • Bernard Walker

    Yea both got the flat plane ✈.V6 got better dead pull and pedal. Bring you high hat .Rihanna~Bernard and India : Tempest Engineering. ☕ () ☕

  • Narc

    Candidly, I prefer my Corvette. Every other car on the road is a Mustang. Makes no difference if this is a GT350 or not..they all look alike. Even the external, GT350, trim package is seen on many of ‘affordable’ Mustangs. Have a good friend with a new GT350 Shelby…and he gets none of the ‘thumbs up’ attention I get in my Corvette. Like motorcyclists, a Corvette driver always gives a nod to a passing Corvette. Doesn’t happen with Mustangs. No exclusivity, just too many of them on the road. Plus, <> he can’t keep up with me in the mountains. Contrary to what Ford would like you to believe, the GT350 Shelby is **NOT** a road car. It simply can’t handle high speed mountain roads. It *IS* fast in a straight line and probably has faster ‘real-world’ 0-60 times than the lower powered Corvettes. (Mine is a 2016 C7-Z06)
    Putting aside performance for now, the BIG difference between the GT350 Shelby and *ANY* Corvette, is fuel economy. I get 32 MPG on the highway, doing 70 mph in my Z06. My old 2006 C6 Base coupe, got almost 38 on the highway, yet still had a 0-60 time of a respectful 4.1 seconds and a top speed of over 185 mph. (Mine is rated for 0-60 at 2.8 and top end at 200 mph (est.)

    Seriously, yes, because one can have fun with the GT350 Shelby, it *is* a *sports car*, but it is **NOT* a SPORTS CAR.

    I know I am going to get blasted here, so I am ready for it. But take heart Mustang fans, my number 1 son does not like Corvettes, and DOES have a white with blue stripes, automatic, Shelby on order. When he told me he ordered the car, I sent him the music video of Bye Bye Love. (Everly Brothers) My number 2 son was more direct. He just texted him one word. “FOOL”. (He has my old 2006 C6 Base coupe Corvette) I’m just glad they live 600 miles apart, or they would be racing each other through the Sierra Nevada’s!

    It *IS* a lot less expensive than my Z06,($80k plus, vs. $125K) and that is a plus, but after a 1000 mile trip, I feel quite relaxed in my car. I wonder if I would feel as relaxed in the GT350. I found being a passenger in my friend’s GT350, was an exercise in discomfort.

  • Fred Moucatel

    LMFAO !!! RIGHT !!!LOL

  • Jim Farnsworth

    Ms. Lai,

    Your analogy (?) of accelerating like a freight train doesn’t make me think of lots of G’s. Freight trains are very heavy and accelerate and deaccerate very slowly. I know rocket ship is over used so how about like a striking cobra’s head? Oh ya that’s been used too? Major league pitchers fast ball? Ejection seat?

  • Mark S

    Just watched the Everyday Driver review of the GT350 – epic. The presenters were totally blown away and not usually very pro Mustangs. If I had the money….

  • Chief

    Thanks for sharing….tell me, have you ever driven a Shelby GT 500 or GT 350?

  • Narc

    If you are talking about the Carroll Shelby GT350 or the Ford designed GT500, yes. Many times. I wrenched for the Ford dealership here from 1967 to 1970. I’ve put in a few laps in the ‘striped’ GT350. (The race ready version with the 2 or 3 diagonal stripes on the fender.

    Not exactly a Ford, per se, but I own a Sunbeam Tiger I bought new in 1965. Originally, it had a 260 inch V8, but SCCA rules for C Production allowed an upgrade to a 289, which I did. I still have the original 260, just in case I ever off the car and the buyer wants the numbers matching engine. I used that car for Category 1 Solo event racing. (Hill climbs, etc.) It sits in my auto storage warehouse with its Goodyear Blue Streaks, all ready to go, should I ever want to go racing with it.!

    As for new Mustang GT cars..I don’t remember what year…2012, I think it was. I drove one to see what it was like. Had it on the University’s skid pad, wet and dry. Supercharged V-6 and a 6 speed stick, I think it was. No supercharger lag (But then, that’s why superchargers are so much better than turbos..no lag, but, there is some power loss do to driving the supercharger.) Not too shabby a car, but again..straight line only. Wouldn’t want to hill climb it…too easy to lose it. I wasn’t excited about the driver cockpit..sorta uncomfortable for me, but I am not small (or short) 6’0″, 220 lbs.

    When my son’s Shelby comes in, I will drive it a bit and will be able to give a better road test impression. That’s a month or two away though!

  • Chief

    I think you’ll find the 2016 Mustang Shelby GT350 surprisingly fast and nimble. Much more of a track car than the earlier version GT500. I have a 2013 GT500 with the 5.8 ltr, rated 662 HP….Not a bad track car, even without the track pkg, but still not a vette. However, I’ve never been a track guy…more into the quarter mile performance, and I can tell you, these cars are screamers…the only drawback is hooking the tires. And the modification options on these cars are affordable and can produce unbelievable numbers. As far as ride, I drove mine back from the coast…approx. 1100 miles in 2 days…and it wasn’t bad. With the adjustable suspension, you can get the best of both worlds, and they are much easier getting in and out of than any vette. Chevy fan’s have always wanted to compare the vette to the mustang…which is apples to oranges. If you want to truly compare vehicles…try the Camaro vs the stang.

  • Narc

    I’ll let everyone know any comparisons I might have after my son takes delivery of his Shelby. *THEN* I can be truly objective in my observations!

  • Vampirebear13

    I have to start off by saying, as I always do, it’s all about “brand loyalty”. If you’re a Chevy guy, you’ll always prefer Vettes and/or Camaros. If you’re a Ford guy, you’ll prefer Mustangs. Secondly, a point everyone seems to miss is, The Vette is a sportscar, while Mustang is a Musclecar. 2 totally different things. The main thing they both have in common is NEITHER car can corner. They’re only good in a straight line.
    Unless heavily modified, Vettes corner like they’re on ball bearings on the best of roads. That said, the most dubious part of your post is saying your son “ordered a Shelby with an automatic” transmission. If you knew what you were talking about, then you’d know the new Shelbys are MANUAL ONLY.

  • Cliff Spectre

    HA HA HA….Chevettes may have curb appeal to other vette owners but not to anyone else. Talk about all looking the same. Part of the benefit of owning a Mustang is being able to personalize it. You may get more looks at your chev if it’s parked next to a V6 but not if it’s sitting beside a Shelby.

  • tayl0rd

    Man! What a load of dooky! First, your son ordered a non-existant “automatic” GT350? Then you drove a non-existant 2012 supercharged *V6* Mustang GT? Either you were trolling super hard, or you are super ancient in age and not the least bit in touch with modern automobile-dom. And saying the GT350 looks like every other Mustang is beyond laughable, ESPECIALLY coming from somebody that drives a Corvette! There is not a single exterior trim piece on the GT350 that’s on any other Mustang.