The Mustang is one of the most popular sports cars but it has always been a bit of a portly beast to tame with a running joke of being a weekend car show curb star. The Shelby GT500 has always taken that formula and added more power which, for some drivers, meant more trouble.
But in 2012 Ford offered a variation of the Mustang called the Boss 302. The 302 was a real step forward for good driving dynamics on the Mustang platform but not quite worthy of making this list.
Ford launched an all-new Mustang in 2015. This new model featured an independent rear suspension, something Mustang purists scoffed at but the rest of the auto enthusiast world couldn’t wait to try out. The new Mustang was available with an EcoBoost turbocharged four-cylinder, a 3.7-liter V6, or a 5.0-liter V8.
Then Ford dropped the GT350 and the GT350R and holy crap is this car something to behold. I had the great fortune of being invited to a track tour to try out both the standard GT350 and the racier GT350R.
With a professional driver as my co-pilot we flew around the back half of the track at Road America and I reveled in the actions of the GT350. The weight of the steering, the response from the throttle, the precision of the manual shifter, all of these backed up by the flat-plane-crank “Voodoo” V8 made me push the Shelby harder and harder until I knew I was at my limit…the car was not. Then I switched to the 350R and did the same thing, except faster.
I cannot think of a better sounding engine than that in the current Shelby GT350. It has the classic deep thrum of an American V8 down low but as the tach needle swings towards the stratosphere. Redline is at a lofty 8,250rpm and by the time the needle bounces up there you will have been entertained by sounds you may have thought not possible from a certified engine in a road car.
The current Shelby GT350 is more akin to classic BMW M cars than the overweight, rear-end-swinging, Mustangs of the past. And I love it.