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SNAKES ALIVE!
2013 Shelby GT350

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sat, Apr 27, 2013

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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2013 Shelby GT350

By Zoran Segina Unless one is engaged in earth excavation business or commercial cargo hauling, there is really no need to have a vehicle with a five-liter engine and 624 horsepower. This is especially true in California, where the maximum speed limit is set at 70, even in the remotest desert areas. But try to tell that to a car aficionado who is staring at the dashboard of the 2013 Shelby GT350 from the body-hugging comfort of the custom made Katzkin/Recaro leather seats. The bulging elongated hood that stretches in front of me like a deck of an aircraft carrier is concealing a massive supercharger for the eight-cylinder power plant underneath. I quickly glance at the fuel pressure, oil pressure and supercharger boost gauges stacked on the left A-pillar. My left foot is comfortably resting on a large dead pedal. Before me is a three-spoke leather wrapped steering wheel. My right palm rests on a tennis ball-sized handle of the six-speed manual shifter. Next to it is a metal plaque bearing Carroll Shelby’s signature and a serial number of the car—one of only three hundred and fifty that will be built. There is a certain reassuring simplicity in my environment as these little details draw me ever deeper into Carroll Shelby’s world.

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We test the 624 horsepower version

It only takes a moment to adjust the rear view mirror, press the very firm clutch, push the shifter a fraction of an inch into the first gear and turn the starter key. The GT350 reacts with a menacing rumble. What comes out of the twin Borla exhausts is pure aural pornography—an audible warning of impeding peril and pleasure all wrapped into a single visceral sound. One can envision Sunday sermons in more conservative communities on the subject of this very sound—the prolonged exposure to which may cause development of impure thoughts in weaker members of the flock. I release the clutch and the GT350 begins to travel around in a rather civilized manner belying the dragon that breathes underneath. But this lasts only until the first stretch of the open road that practically begs me to bury the gas pedal into the custom embroidered front mat. The response is as exhilarating as it is dangerous. There is no engineering trickery in Christendom that will keep the six hundred—suddenly very alive—horses on the straight and narrow. The steady rumble deepens into a thunderous roar while the nineteen inch Goodyears mated to a rear live axle stagger from left to right and back again. Two short throws of the shifter later, the speed at which the GT350 is barreling down Jefferson Boulevard has increased from unacceptable to obscene, while I am trying to catch my breath. At the intersection, six piston Shelby-Wilwood brakes slow the light green bolide with ease. Calming down the awakened racing spirit in the driver who tasted the forbidden fruit turns significantly more complicated.

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Get on the Shelby American website, select the “Build One” option for the GT350, and start clicking. What will emerge a short time later is the supercharged, limited production, magic carpet for about eighty grand. To those who claim that they can convert a Ford Mustang to same specifications for much less here is a word of caution—there is darn good reason why the cars envisioned by Carroll Shelby won the toughest endurance races in the world while yours did not. A few hours inside the GT350 quickly reveal how much engineering prowess and experience one needs to build a street-legal 624 hp monster. The five-liter engine is so flexible that after a while I am able to get the GT350 going from the dead stop in fourth gear—without any effort or strain on the engine. On the other hand, accelerating the highly powered Mustang chassis without the help of the professionally calibrated Billet Watts Link rear suspension, and Shelby Eibach coil-over front suspension, would have provided me with far more excitement and adventure than I wished—or were able to control. What else does one get with the Shelby GT350 package? More thumbs up by pedestrians and drivers alike then I can recall. An appreciative nod by a Maserati owner in the next lane—one car connoisseur acknowledging another. Molly’s firm determination that she is ready to buy one. My friend Scott’s urging me to smoke the tires even though I am in the narrow parking lot full of people. And this. . . It is June 3, 1956. Jim and Joe, two Texas teenagers have come to the Eagle Mountain National Guard racetrack near Fort Worth. Their hero and fellow Texan, Carroll Shelby, is competing in this SCCA sanctioned event. Shelby, clad in his trademark bib overalls, is already a celebrity having raced in Sebring and Le Mans. Everybody knows that he survived a harrowing crash in Mexico during the 1954 Carrera Panamericana when he flipped his Austin Healy four times after T-boning a rock. Despite significant injuries, he raced just months later at Sebring with his arm in a special cast and his hand taped to the steering wheel.

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GT350 with the optional painted rear quarter window panels

Shelby is entering the final 101 mile race at the Eagle Mountain in his Ferrari750 Monza with a 2.9-liter 250 horsepower engine. During the race Shelby’s Ferrari develops engine trouble, but he stays in the race and wins. Brimming with excitement, Jim and Joe approach Shelby—still in the car—to congratulate him. As they get closer to the Ferrari, one of the reporters tries to push them away. Shelby scowls, brushes the reporter aside, and invites the boys to join him in the celebration. Over half a century later, my firm step on the accelerator launches the GT350 down Sepulveda Boulevard. In the co-pilot seat is my friend James Rice, a respected physicist. As the nineteen-inch tires begin to chirp, Jim laughs and claps his hands in excitement. Because inside this Shelby GT350, it is the summer of 1956 again, our favorite driver has won the race, and we are celebrating his victory. There are approximately a billion cars in the world. A fair number of them are fast. And fewer are even famous. But the ones that come with built-in emotions are very, very, very rare. For more information about Shelby products, click here

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SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2013 Shelby GT 350 Price: $26,995.00 for the normally aspirated version and $33,995.00 (as tested) for the supercharged version, not including the base car (Mustang GT) Engine type: Shelby/Ford Racing/WhippleSupercharged gasoline V8 5.0 liter engine EPA fuel economy ratings (city/highway): 16/24 miles per gallon Horsepower: 430 for the naturally aspirated model (450 with Shelby’s cold air package); 525 or 624 (as tested) in the Ford Racing supercharged versions Torque: 475 pound-feet (as tested)

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Transmission type: Manual six-speed with short throw (automatic available) Drive configuration: Rear wheel drive Steering: Electric power rack-and-pinion Suspension Front: Shelby/Eibach Coil-Over Suspension and Sway Bar Kit Rear: Billet Watts Link Rear Suspension Wheels and tires : 19’X 9” inch Cragar wheels with 265/40-19 FT/R Goodyear F1 Eagle Supercar G2 tires Brakes Front: Shelby Wilwood with six piston calipers and 14 inch rotors Rear: Shelby Wilwood with four piston upgrade and 14 inch rotors Weight: 3816 pounds wet

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