Returning to the suburban Los Angeles garage where racing legend Carroll Shelby kept his personal car collection and tinkered with some legendary performance cars over the years, Ford Motor Co. rolled out the new Shelby GT350 Mustang.
The 500-horsepower brute is the first high-performance niche model to debut since the launch of the all-new, sixth-generation Ford Mustang earlier this year. But don’t expect it to be the last, suggested the grandson of the late legend. And don’t be surprised to see the Shelby name grace more of those future spinoffs.
“This is exciting to see the first iteration (of the Mustang) since Carroll’s passing,” said Aaron Shelby, referring to the death of his grandfather in May 2012 at the age of 89.
Carroll Shelby’s ties to Ford date back nearly a half-century before his passing. The very first Shelby Mustang – complete with Cobra emblem – was introduced just months after the very first 1964-1/2 pony car went on sale. There have been a number of Shelby-badged Mustangs over the years, some of them produced on Ford’s assembly lines, but others were crafted by Las Vegas-based Shelby American facility.
That “tuner” firm had only a minor role, “really, just a consultation,” with Ford on the development of the new 2015 Shelby GT350, noted Aaron Shelby. But he expects the ties between the two companies to continue going forward.
For the moment, Ford isn’t ready to discuss what’s next to come off the new Mustang platform, though Joe Hinrichs, the maker’s President of the Americas, does little to deny expectations that a host of even higher-performance models will follow. That likely would include the yet-more-powerful Shelby GT500.
(Click Here for details on the return of the Shelby GT350 Mustang.)
For his part, Shelby was slightly more open, hinting that, “As we go forward, there will be some more alternatives.” But in a conversation with TheDetroitBureau.com, he quickly added that, “I can’t speak to (the details) right now.”
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He did indicate that Shelby American would play a direct role in pushing the new Mustang platform – with its first-time independent rear suspension – to the limits. That very well could mean a new version of the Shelby Mustang 1000. In its original incarnation, it delivered an appropriate 1,000 hp. But the final tweak of that limited-edition model, unveiled at the 2013 New York Auto Show, got the pony count up to a mind-boggling 1,200, not much less than the Swedish ultracar, the Koenigsegg Agera One:1.
The good thing is that there’s plenty to work with starting out with the 2015 Mustang platform, stressed Shelby, calling it a “night-and-day difference” compared to the previous-generation pony car.
(Former Aston designer Henrik Fisker plans to reveal the “Ultimate” Mustang at LA Auto Show. Click Here for more.)
As for timing, well, Shelby suddenly found himself pulled away to say hello to another well-known family heir, Henry “Sonny” Ford III, the great-great grandson of company founder Henry Ford. The cordial relationship between the Shelbys and the Fords suggests their ties will continue for some time – and Mustang fans will have plenty to look forward to, as a result.