Let’s begin with where this car started, as an attempt by the team at Ford to make the "911 GT3 of Mustangs". A sweet spot of the Mustang range for the discerning customer, with upgraded suspension, steering, and braking, but without the sledgehammer of raw power present in the range-topping GT500 (care to read that? Check it out here.)
But the GT350 is more than just some new body panels and slight suspension tuning, Ford Performance set out to produce one of the greatest engines of this era, the 5.2 Liter Voodoo V8. This is a car you buy for the engine, so where else to jump in than there? The GT350 was released in 2016, with the example you see here being a 2017 model. In all Mustang models up until this point, the typical cross-plane crankshaft setup was used. Cross-plane cranks are common in our Domestic Muscle, while flat-plane motors are more common in European exotica. And that's where the GT350 stands out. The Voodoo V8 uses a flat-plane crank like a Ferrari! But what does this mean, and why should Mustang buyers care? Well, a flat-plane crank allows for faster revving, higher redlines, less internal inertia, and most importantly, generating a ripping noise that when you hear it, you know something special is coming. You can read Motor trends in-depth analysis comparing both types of crankshafts here simply because we don’t have the time to explain "internal balance and exhaust gas scavenging" and our friends at MT did a great job covering it already.
So let's talk more about those benefits… the Voodoo 5.2 revs to an astronomical 8,250rpm, over 1,200 more than the 5.0 Coyote that most Mustang people are familiar with. This new engine leads to a fitting 526 horsepower compared to the 460 in the current 5.0 GT. And the second noticeable upgrade is the sound.
To explain in words, the GT350 idles smoother than a 5.0, but as soon as you get on it the sound grows exponentially with the revs. Hit 4,000rpm and a metallic reverb hits the quad exhaust pipes (which are very real) and from there the scream begins. A raucous wail comes as you approach 7k, and a banshee-like shriek consumes all other sounds once you’ve reached the redline. A shift to the next gear, rinse and repeat. You get the point. Ford has missed in the past, but here they have scored a bullseye with this engine.
Mated to that engine is another wonderful trait of the GT350, the Tremec TR-3160 6-speed manual transmission, said to be the greatest transmission fitted to an American muscle car. A far cry from the touchy and breakable Getrag MT82 6-speed in the regular Mustang GT. Ease the speed up in 1st gear, throw a hard shift to 2nd, kick the tires loose and hear the Voodoo scream. Can’t do that with an MT82.
Ok, there are all the technical specs and nitty-gritty of the drivers' Mustang, but what is it like to drive? We met with now long-time friend and photographer RJ, who if you’ll remember, did the photos for our F80 M3 review more than a year ago. Not only does RJ take great photos, but he knows what cars to buy. With a few older Mustangs in his past, RJ’s been searching for the perfect GT350 for a while. And boy did he find the right one. This easily Top Spec GT350 is in the highly desired Grabber Blue, and laid over the top of the car are two white stripes with black pinstriping to compliment. Just a side note, we’ve been looking for a GT350 to review ever since we started it, and this was just the perfect one. RJ and I took the 350 on the "SFCN test route", the usual set of local roads that I use to benchmark and get a good feel for the car I’m riding in.
Expectations set reasonably for one of my own dream cars, I was ready for the burly feel that I experienced in the newer GT500. But that slightly overweight, chunky feeling never came. Instead, only smooth and feathery (for a Mustang) inputs and responses are what I felt and observed.
The GT350 hides its weight well! It glides through corners, engine and transmission in perfect harmony, even on the moist day of this review, the Mustang had no intentions to oversteer and...you know… "do a Mustang".
These advantages are just what sets the GT350 apart from the other Mustangs in the lineup, actual useable power, engaging drivetrain, top-notch handling, and so much more the GT350 has to offer.
Look past the now 6-year-old interior and racecar-like oil/gas consumption, and you have one of the greatest drivers' cars of the past few years. Not just by American standards either, this could keep pace with some of the European greats that have come out over the same time-period. One more thing to keep in mind when appreciating the GT350: It represents much more than the Ford Performance team's accomplishment of a ‘sweet spot’ Mustang. It represents a dying breed of car, a manual, naturally aspirated, RWD muscle car in a brazenly vibrant color. If there’s any way for high-revving, gas-guzzling, and driver-oriented cars to go out, I’d be satisfied to see them go like this.
Stay tuned for more videos and photos of this beautiful GT350 on our Instagram. Thanks again to the owner and photographer RJ, and to all of you for being patient during our hiatus.
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Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.’ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, SFCN will receive an affiliate commission. It's ok though! All the stuff we reference here is legit and from great companies and individuals.
The photographs used in this article are from @rj_sensei. All photo credit goes to him and check him out on Instagram for more of his great work.