LOS ANGELES—The modern Ford Mustang Shelby lineup is no stranger to Automobile, and no stranger to our praise: The Shelby GT350 was one of seven of our selected All-Stars in 2016; we put a GT350 and GT350R to the test at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, Michigan; and Pro Racer Andy Pilgrim track-tested a pair of GT350s at NCM Motorsports Park. And most recently, this year the 760-horsepower GT500 took home an All-Stars award at our annual best-of-the-best showdown.
Only days before Ford officially announced it will end production of the Shelby GT350 and GT350R, we hopped into the driver’s seat of a new 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition and hit the road: The sweet sound and feel of a naturally aspirated V-8 coupled to a six-speed manual gearbox pointed us to Pacific Coast Highway for a drive to remember.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition Test: What Is It?
Los Angeles’ wicked traffic can discourage any driver from multitasking with a manual gearbox, and the Shelby GT350’s get-up-and-go nature certainly encourages you to stay the course. If there is anything to appreciate about a modern muscle car equipped with a stick shift and a healthy 5.2-liter flat-plane crankshaft making 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, it is the satisfaction that comes with keeping it smooth and under control.
The manufacturer did not change anything mechanically for the 2020-model-year GT350 models, though Ford released a special package to honor the 55th anniversary of Ken Miles winning at Green Valley Raceway in the original Shelby GT350. The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition adds a Wimbledon White paint finish, Guardsman Blue stripes, a GT350 logo on the front fenders, and some blue badges. As equipped, this test vehicle arrived with a sticker of $67,840, which included the GT350 Heritage package ($1,965), technology package ($2,000), and leather-trimmed sport seats ($495).
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition Test: The Drive
Soaking up the marine layer, the GT350 confidently took flight on Highway 1 wearing tenacious Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires. Designed for road and track use, the wide Cup 2s stick to the asphalt in a way that tempts you to feel untouchable in terms of cornering grip, plus accelration.
The mostly vacant road presented the perfect situation for an exercise in quick-shifting: first, second, third gear, and before you know it, things in your peripheral vision become a blur. Eyes on the road while also sneaking a peek at the RPM needle, it was exciting to feel the GT350 build momentum. Meanwhile, the flat-crank V-8’s blaring cries command you to mute the Bang & Olufsen audio system’s volume and to just live in the moment.
At Point Mugu, I wheeled the 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition into a popular area near the rock formations, and the sight of a woman at the wheel of this American muscle car caused quite a stir. Members of a film crew working on-site, mainly all men, stopped what they were doing as their jaws literally dropped. Revving the engine to say, “Hello, fellas,” I put the clutch in, shifted into first, and demonstrated some of the car’s potential. Judging from the looks on their faces, the GT350’s abilities are obvious.
Spending more time than ever indoors these days makes you value every opportunity you get to take in the soothing ocean breeze in a beautiful place like Malibu. I then headed south, and found maneuvering with a six-speed manual around no-common-sense drivers through Santa Monica was both challenging and educational. The GT350 is not the type of car you purchase if fuel economy concerns you; from the driver’s seat, the scent of gasoline fumes reminded me a bit of what it must have been like to drive a Mustang in the 1960s. Downshifting and braking frequently through the chaos between Venice and Redondo Beach were painful exercises but strangely fun: It was like walking a long-cooped-up Rottweiler on a leash and trying to keep it calm.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition Test: End of the Road
The 2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition is a standout Mustang, one which has us already missing the GT350 models as Ford puts an end to this era. On the flipside, the 350s’ departure clears the way for other hardcore Mustangs, among them a limited-edition Mach 1. But despite having more of a track-focused personality, the GT350 has the right amount of bravado and composure to be driven daily however you like. The Heritage Edition is a fine way to end the run.
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition Highlights
- 6-Speed manual transmission
- Naturally aspirated V-8
- GT350 Heritage Package includes Wimbledon White paint, Guardsman Blue stripes, GT350 front-fender logos
- Active-valve performance exhaust
- Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires
- Optional Recaro seats
2020 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 Heritage Edition Specifications
|PRICE||$60,335/$67,840 (base/as tested)|
|ENGINE||5.2L DOHC 32-valve V-8/526 hp @ 7,500 rpm, 429 lb-ft @ 4,750|
|LAYOUT||2-door, 4-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe|
|EPA MILEAGE||14/21 mpg (city/hwy)|
|L x W x H||188.9 x 75.9 x 54.2 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.3 sec|
|TOP SPEED||180 mph|
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