Is the Shelby GT350 About to Go Away For Good?

Michael Accardi
by Michael Accardi

Simple clues may help us paint a bigger picture of the future of Ford’s magnificent GT350 sports car.

During the 2016 SEMA Show last week, Ford shocked the racing world with a new GT4 compliant Mustang race car, eligible to compete in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS-class, Pirelli World Challenge GTS and European GT4, among others.

The GT4 debuted with a 5.2-liter V8 that many mistook for Ford’s 5.2-liter Flat Plane Crank engine, but it’s not. The first clue came from a Ford spokesperson at SEMA, who confirmed to All Ford Mustangs the Mustang GT4 does not use a FPC, but a more conventional Cross Plane Crank.

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

The second clue came from Multimatic, the company responsible for the GT350RC and a significant chunk of chassis work on the GT4. Sean Mason, Multimatic’s Motorsports Manager, confirmed the championship winning Shelby won’t be back next season, “the GT350RC program will transition into the GT4 program.”

The last piece of the puzzle comes from Ford’s agreement with the UAW, almost exactly one year ago. In the documents, it was revealed Ford’s Romeo Engine Plant would continue to build the 5.2-liter V8, with upgrades. Is this Ford confirming that the 5.2-liter will continue with a new Cross Plane Crank?

Ford has gone on record saying the 5.2-liter Flat Plane Crank would not be used in any other vehicle besides the Shelby GT350, representing the pinnacle of performance from the Mustang family. But can the Shelby GT350 still be considered the pinnacle of the Mustang’s performance with Ford’s factory supported team switching to the GT4?

Racing is as much about marketing as it is winning, and Ford has shown itself to be one of the most savvy in this space. Racing helps position the Shelby GT350/R to customers as the Mustang’s ultimate expression of on-track performance. The marketing becomes disconnected from reality without the tangible display of capability, you know the mantra, win on Sunday, sell on Monday.

The fact that Ford could be choosing to supplant the GT350RC program with the GT4 program is an early harbinger of the Shelby’s imminent demise, leaving many eagerly anticipating another potent high-performing Mustang from the factory.

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Michael Accardi
Michael Accardi

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