Say Goodbye to the GT350 and GT350R, The Last Stick-Shift Shelby Mustangs
But for manual diehards, there is a consolation prize coming
If you want a new Mustang, there are plenty of options. But only one of them made Car and Driver’s annual 10 Best list in 2016 and 2017, only one of them was called “the best new sports car that I’ve ever driven when evaluated on a per-dollar basis” by Jalopnik, and only one of them has the honor of being a Shelby Mustang with a stick shift.
That Mustang is the GT350. Unfortunately for fans of economical American muscle, it was revealed yesterday that Ford is taking the axe to the GT350 as well as its track-tuned GT350R sibling. Meaning? After the current 2020 year, you’ll no longer be able to buy a Shelby Mustang with a manual transmission.
“With the 760 horsepower Shelby GT500 now in full stride, we will finish production of Shelby GT350 and GT350R this fall as planned,” Ford said in a statement, per Yahoo. “This makes the way for new additions to excite our passionate Mustang fans for 2021 model year — including the limited-edition Mach 1.”
The problem with replacing the Shelby GT350 with the GT500 is that the latter is only available with Tremec’s seven-speed dual clutch transmission — which isn’t a manual transmission or a classic automatic transmission, but it does eliminate the third pedal. And the problem with replacing the GT350 with the Mach 1, of course, is that the new offering isn’t technically a Shelby model, though it will have some of the same parts, including the stick shift.
All that to say, none of this may matter to some drivers. In fact, the new Mach 1, which will slot in near the top of the Mustang lineup in terms of performance, is expected to start around $50,000, a full $10,000 less than the starting price of the GT350. And you can always buy a regular Mustang with a manual! No matter what people tell you, you definitely don’t need all the power upmarket models like the GT350 bring to the table.
But for those who have a deep appreciation for the Carroll Shelby name, at least deeper than people who hear that name and picture Matt Damon, or have driven the GT350 and fallen in love with the 5.2-liter flat-plane-crank V8 (as Yahoo reported, Ford hasn’t announced any new plans for that engine), the end of the third-round of GT350 Mustangs is a bummer.
On the bright side, it seems Ford is readying a seventh generation of the Mustang (at least if LinkedIn leaks are to be believed), and with it could come more stick-shift Shelbys. Well, so long as people actually keep buying manuals.
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