The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Appears to Be Dead for 2021
Yesterday we we reported that the legendary Mustang Mach 1 nameplate might be making a comeback in 2021. We think the Mach 1 will be a run-out special for the current generation of Mustang, and will replace the Bullitt Mustang after Ford’s licensing deal with Warner Brothers, the studio that owns the rights to Bullitt, runs its course. We also learned some more details about the 2021 Bronco Sport. What do all these fortuitous info drops have in common? They were revealed by vehicle identification number (VIN) decoders leaked online. The latest from that trove of VIN decoders? The foreboding hint that the much-loved Mustang Shelby GT350 and GT350R could be going away soon.
In the very same VIN decoder that leaked on enthusiast forum Mach E Club and clued us in on the existence of the Mach 1, we noticed only one 5.2-liter V-8 listed for the 2021 model year Mustang lineup. What’s so bad about one measly V-8? Well, both the GT350 and the brand-new Shelby GT500 models are powered by different 5.2-liter V-8s. With only one listed on the VIN sheet, that’d mean only one of those two models will be sold for 2021, and it seems unfathomable that Ford would, for some reason, discontinue the just-released and massively more powerful GT500 in favor of the older GT350. Most likely, it’s the other way around: The GT500 is replacing, in effect, the GT350s.
This is sad news for Mustang fans—or just those who love the sounds of the GT350’s sonorous, free-revving flat-plane-crankshaft “Voodoo” V-8. We may never see another engine like it ever again from a mainstream automaker like Ford. It was the first flat-plane-crank V-8 to ever be put in a Mustang (that crankshaft design is favored by Ferrari, for example) and was truly the GT350’s best party trick. Even so, the GT500 has the same moves as the GT350, if not better, plus its 5.2-liter cross-plane V-8 (so, normal crank) is supercharged and produces 234 more horsepower than the Voodoo V-8, for a total of 760. It makes its own good noises.
This news, of course, hasn’t been confirmed officially. Ford sent us a solid non-comment on the matter. But, it seems to make sense, however cruelly that impacts the GT350: The GT500 is now king of the Mustang hill, and we don’t know if Ford wants one high-performance Mustang cannibalizing sales of another. So, if this is the case, and the GT350 is dead, it will be a sad, misty-eyed goodbye to one of the best ‘Stangs we’ve ever driven.
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