By David Undercoffler, Los Angeles Times
5:00 AM PDT, April 13, 2013
The 2013 Shelby GT350 takes a standard Mustang GT and adds more than $40,000 in performance upgrades — bringing the whole package to about $74,000.
That's a lot for a Mustang. But any doubts about spending Corvette money on the juiced-up Ford are erased after only moments in the GT350. This is a talented car.
Key upgrades in the Shelby package include Wilwood brakes, a Ford Racing suspension, a short-throw shifter, Shelby 19-inch rims wrapped in ultra-sticky Goodyear tires and Borla exhaust, along with new front and rear bumpers and a new hood with a functional scoop.
Lurking underneath that hood on our test car was an optional $8,500 Ford Racing supercharger that boosted the GT350's total horsepower to 624 from the stock 420. Buyers do have the curious option of saving themselves $750 and opting for a supercharger that brings the total to 525.
Our tester also had additional goodies like a high-performance cooling package, an upgraded interior package, and an Eibach suspension and sway-bar upgrade. The total for the changes — not including the price of the base Mustang GT — was $42,480.
As expected, straight-line acceleration is a specialty. First and second gears fly by quickly as the car roars toward a 6,500-rpm redline. After the supercharger gets wailing, this car moves forward with eyebrow-curling speed.
Once you run of out of road — which won't take long — the deep-throated Borla exhaust burbles and pops with some of the nicest exhaust overrun you'll find on a car.
But it is the GT350's handling of curves that really impresses. By no stretch of the imagination is this a small or light car, but the suspension is well tuned for control. This Shelby stays predictable throughout street and track time, no small feat when 624 horsepower might otherwise conspire to put you into a spin.
As Shelby President John Luft pointed out, Shelby has the benefit of starting with impressively engineered vehicles from Ford. The quiet and comfort of the GT350 in daily freeway cruising is a testament to this, given how capable the very same machine is around a track.
Shelby Focus ST
Though the Shelby Focus ST on paper shares nothing with the GT350 but the Shelby name, putting each on the track shows that, philosophically, they're quite similar.
The Shelby Focus ST signals a new direction for Shelby and Ford. The front-wheel-drive car is based on the turbocharged Focus ST that Ford recently started selling in the U.S. The Shelby version takes all that's good about the Ford version — appreciable power in a compact, functional package — and irons out its key weaknesses.
The biggest fault of the stock Focus ST is torque steer — that unwelcome gremlin that twists the steering wheel in your hands under hard acceleration. This is the result of pushing 252 horsepower through only the front wheels. Shelby American figured out how to add a bit more power while mitigating some of the torque steer.
The extra power comes by way of a cold air intake and Borla exhaust, which yields a total bump of 25 horsepower. The Shelby Focus ST then uses a custom-tuned suspension designed specifically to address torque steer.
On the freeway and in straight-line acceleration, the difference is barely noticeable. The front wheels still tend to hop and twist some when you really get on the throttle.
But on the twisty track of Spring Mountain Motorsports Ranch in Pahrump, Nev., this little Shelby exhibited much better manners than its Ford cousin.
It was easy to flick into a corner and just as easy to dial things back if you found yourself sliding into trouble. Though down significantly in power to Shelby Mustangs, the composed suspension allowed the Focus to keep pace on the track.
In addition to the power bump, new exhaust, suspension and shifter, our tester added to the Focus ST items like upgraded front and rear brakes, wheels and tires, an exterior graphics package, a vented hood and a rear spoiler.
The Shelby Focus ST package starts at $15,000, not including the base price of the Focus ST itself.
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