Even before adding the new Mustang Mach-E later this year, Ford’s pony car stable had grown incredibly crowded, with options ranging from the base model up to the brutal GT500.
Now, Ford is about to empty out two of those stalls, the automaker planning to drop both the Shelby GT350 and track-oriented GT350R. It also means there’ll be no space on a Ford assembly line for the distinctive, flat-plane-crank V-8 used only in those two GT variants.
The move will come as a disappointment to some Mustang fans but may be missed by most considering the low sales of the GT350 models. And, said Ford, it “makes the way for new additions to excite passionate Mustang fans for 2021 model year – including the limited-edition Mach 1.”
That model is set to arrive next year and it does borrow a number of features from the GT350, but not the 5.2-liter V-8 which produces one of the most awesome exhaust notes of any current Mustang model. That’s on top of the naturally aspirated engine’s incredible numbers.
Making 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, it can launch the GT350 from 0 to 60 in less than 4 seconds and, based on what a number of publications have been reporting, propels it through the quarter-mile traps in just over 12 seconds.
There’s another appealing feature, a six-speed manual gearbox, that isn’t available on the admittedly faster Shelby GT500.
Actually, there were plenty of reasons to love the GT350, starting with a more affordable price tag, starting at $59,140 – before delivery fees – which was nearly $15,000 less than the GT500.
For that money you also got engine oil, transmission and differential coolers to keep them running smoothly while on the track. Add on what Ford described as “a no-compromise braking system with vented 15.5-inch two-piece front rotors and six-piston Brembo calipers along with the MagneRide damping system round out the standard equipment to produce the most balanced Mustang ever.”
The GT350 and GT350R will officially end their production runs this fall. But what about the Mustang Mach 1 being billed as something of a replacement?
Think of it as falling somewhere in-between the Mustang Bullitt and the GT350. Set to arrive in showrooms next spring for around $50,000, it will feature a 480-horsepower version of Ford’s trusty 5.0-liter V-8. The good news is that while most buyers are expected to order the Mach 1 with a 10-speed automatic with paddle-shifters, Ford will retain a 6-speed manual for those who just demand to row their own.
Meanwhile, like the Shelby models, the Mach 1 will let buyers load up on an array of track-ready options.
While flat-plane-crank engine won’t be used, the Mach 1 will share the GT350’s intake manifold and engine cooler, as well as its front and rear subframes. It also will borrow things like the rear diffuser and rear axle cooler from the GT500.
So, there’s a good chance that Ford’s new Mustang stable-mate should be able to keep GT350 fans from shedding too many tears.