While You’re Waiting For Bark’s Shelby Review, Here’s Another One


Please welcome my dear friend and serial Shelby Mustang owner, Chris B., to Riverside Green. I introduced you to Chris almost two years ago on the pages of TTAC, and I’m thrilled to have him contributing here whenever the heck he feels like it. Chris was one of the lucky Shelby owners to receive an invite to test out the new GT350R at Lime Rock Park. I’m on the way to Orlando as we speak, but while you’re waiting for my knowledge to drop, here’s Chris’ take on the latest and baddest ‘Stang. —Bark

As a previous owner of 8 Mustangs, 4 of which were Shelby GT500s, I was curious if this normally aspirated “track car” was for me. My 2013 GT500, with 662hp, was a big brute of a machine, faster than most supercars and even some street bikes. I like the big crazy raw power, but I also want the ability to handle well for a day on the track, or just some twisty New England roads. So, initially, this “underpowered” model just didn’t excite me that much. But, I keep buying the latest Cobra Mustang (I’ve had 96, 99, 03, 08, 11, 13, and another 13), so I think everyone just assumed I was ordering one of these, too.

My good friend, and next door neighbor in college, is a Ford Dealer in Michigan. I shot him a text late last year and said, “I think I want one, can you give me a similar deal as on my 2013?” “Sure, we don’t markup cars here,” he replied. So there I was, with an allocation with my name on it, below MSRP, and just waiting for it to be scheduled. But I was still wavering, even after putting in my order with him. I knew that I could give my allocation to a line of 5 or 6 people that want one, so for that reason, I started looking around at some other options.

New Dodge Viper? Used R8 V8? Aston Martin V8 Vantage? They were all in my price range, but I just wasn’t excited about any of them. I knew that I wanted to stay under $80k, with a manual transmission, that was exciting to drive, and visually appealing. But…I’m a Ford guy at heart. My family was a dealer for eighty-five years, but we were consolidated by Ford in 2006. Our family had a great life for years because of Ford. And my allegiance to the Brand has always kept me coming back. Out of 30 cars I’ve owned, 24 have had the Ford Oval (or the Snake) on the front of it. So, it wasn’t easy to look elsewhere. I was on the fence.

A few months back, I got an email from Ford Performance, inviting me to Lime Rock Park CT, Road Racing Center of the East, to take the new GT350 for a spin. For years, Lime Rock has been my “Home Track.” Its where my friends and would go watch the Rolex Vintage festival, the now Defunct ALMS, as well as participating in some track days. So, I took the day off from work in advance. That morning, I got up at 4am, set Pandora to “Tomorrowland Radio” to keep myself awake, and drove in darkness to CT for an 8am start time.


When I pulled into the paddock, I was immediately excited when I saw 8 cars on track—4 Track Pack cars, and 4 “R’s”—as well as an Avalanche Gray with Blue Stripe car among others in the Ford Garage. Ford put on one hell of show for us owners. It was broken into 4 segments; 1st– we got to meet Jim Owens, Marketing for Ford Performance. He gave us the whole history of racing with Ford, from how the company started, to the 60s when Carroll Shelby and  his boys smoked Ferrari with the Ford GT40, up until now, where we are truly LUCKY to be “Ford guys.” Why? Because Ford is Launching 20 new Ford Performance cars between now, and 2020, with the 1st being this GT350. “Ok,” I thought to myself, you’re wetting my appetite, and getting the nostalgia going. You’re reminding me of conversations of the “old Ford” with my grandfather who passed away 9 years ago, and the times I spent in the right seat of my Uncle’s 69 Torino Cobrajet, or his 71 Mach1, that Tasca modified for him over and over again. You got me ready to go.”

After wiping my eyes, we went over to what I call the “feature preachers.” These guys knew every single nook and cranny of the car. They went over all the options and specs with us. It was nice, but by now I was hearing the roar of the cars on the track. I pretty much stopped listening and walked over track side, to see these cars ripping up to 140mph on the Sam Posey Straight at Lime Rock

The GT350 has 3 modes, comfort, sport, and Track. With Track mode on, I’m 100% shocked that the decibel levels are legal (I don’t think they are). It is LOUD. Like, REALLY loud. I was having flashbacks of being at Lime Rock during one of the ALMS or Continental Tire series races I used to go to.

When I initially ordered my car as order banks opened, I put in for the Tech Pack. I figured I spend more time in the car than just on the track, I like the Nav, the better stereo, the heated and cooled seats, etc. But I was miffed that I couldn’t order Recaro seats with this package like I had in both of my 2013 GT500s. So today, I wanted to try both sets of seats. Sat in the tech pack, hated the seats. Sat in the Track Pack, Loved the seats. They are MUCH more supportive than the 12-14 Recaros. A bit narrower in the leg though. I’m 6 feet, 175lb, broad shouldered, but with a 32” waist, very much “V-shaped” if you will. If you’re any larger than a 36” waist, I think the Recaros MIGHT be a bit snug until broken in a bit. I immediately changed my mind on what Package I wanted when I sat in the Recaros, and said “no nav, no heated seats it is!.”

The real difference between the two packages is that the Tech Pack gets Navigation, heated and cooled seats, more speakers, satellite radio, and Mustang GT seats that have been wrapped with some Alcantara. You also get a smaller deck lid spoiler. The Track Pack gets you the engine, transmission, and differential auxiliary coolers, the large deck lid spoiler, the Recaros, and the base stereo with NO satellite radio. If I had it my way, I would like to have seen these as standalone options. I would have done the track pack and added nav and satellite. The only way I can do that is if I go with R, which I cant get unless I wanted to spend a $10k dealer markup. I refuse to spend $70k+ on any Mustang. I can add satellite later, and the Waze app on my phone in a Koomus windshield mount will be just fine for now.

The group before me was about to finish their laps, so I grabbed a muffin (thanks for the Free Food Ford!), woofed it down, and went over and got fitted for my helmet and HANS device. I was the 1st one up, and the 1st car up front was a Black/Black R. So, I hopped in. Fired it up, got some instructions from the instructor and off we went.

I ripped through 1st and 2nd, popped the ass end out into third gear, and pushed through the 1st turn, in through the chicane, I could feel the car just wanting more. The brakes: simply superb. At the end of the long straight, at about 140MPH, I literally stood on them, and they brought me right down to the correct speed, entering back into the turn. Through the nitty gritty areas, the car easily rotated through, not missing a beat. I was really worried about the straight line acceleration before I drove it. NOPE. This car’s power band just keeps pulling and pulling all the way to redline, and once you shift, it keeps pulling and pulling. It honestly felt like the same freight train-esque feeling that my 13 gave. But it was different. Like really different. This car didn’t scare the shit out of me. It felt complacent, it felt planted, it felt like no Mustang I have ever felt before- it was actually, dare I say, confidence inspiring. On the ragged edge driving this car, it sticks. I really have a hard time putting it into words. All I know is that at speed- I felt like I was in control. Where in my 13, 11, 08, 03 etc. I felt like I was always fighting the car. This car actually wanted me to drive it hard, and kept begging for more.

After my laps, I got to hop in for a “hot lap” with one of the instructors. I hopped in with Rod, who was a really nice guy, talked to me through thing explaining what he was doing.  After the 1st lap, I immediately regretted eating the muffin 30 or so mins before. Now, I’m a good driver, I used to do more track days, but up until recently, my only track driving since 2011 was in a 1989 Dodge Shelby Daytona in a LeMons race in NH, until I blew up the engine after about an hour in the car. So you could say, I was a bit rusty, and I must have been taking it easy on my laps, because Rod put the car through the paces, using every inch of the track, every ounce of its power—and holy crap—those brakes. Rod was standing on the brakes at every turn, and getting the car to do things that really showed how amazing this new Shelby is.


When I got out of the car, we went over to the parts display, where I got to check out the carbon fiberwheels, the magneride suspension bits, the underside of the flipped over GT350, as well as hear a bit more about the cars development. Blah Blah blah, everything I’ve already read on svtperformance.com, heard about from friends at Ford, and read all over the internet. Nothing new here.

I had stopped paying attention. I was on the phone, texting my dealer to change the order, I went from a Tech Pack, Avalanche Gray with a black roof. To a Track Pack, Avalanche Gray with Blue stripes, and a car cover. I want to be on the track more now—this car just begs for it. I also want to do more road trips, and the Recaros, well, they’re just so comfortable that I had to have them. I don’t need the frills of navigation, I don’t need 10 speakers. The noise this car makes is all I need. I don’t need ventilated seats, I’ll take a shower before bed. If I had to have all of those things in this car, I would have just bought an M4. But if I did that, I would have paid $20k more, and got, a lot less car. My GT350 will be in come March. My GT500 was picked up by the new owner yesterday, and driven back to Illinois.

If you’re on the fence like I was, be like Nike and Just Do It. Hop over the fence. It is totally worth it.

2 Replies to “While You’re Waiting For Bark’s Shelby Review, Here’s Another One”

  1. MrFixit1599

    Yes I am also a Ford Fanboi, but I cannot wait for all the comparison tests to happen. I truly hope that the GT350 is all worth the hype. The Raptor came out of no where and built a new segment, and I want one desperately. The FoST and FiST are remarkably good cars from all accounts. The new GT looks like it is going to be amazing. I want all of it to work, but being a Ford Fanboi, I am just waiting for the inevitable promises not kept that so often happens with mass car producers. So far I have not been disappointed, but we shall see.


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