Just one month after unveiling the Mustang GT4 at the SEMA show, Ford unveiled the track-ready Shelby FP350S at the Performance Racing Industry trade show in Indianapolis. The turn-key race car will fit into a similar role in the current Mustang lineup as the previous Boss 302S, giving a capable car for road racing or track days for lower cost than professional-racing offerings.
While the GT4 is intended for racing in pro series like Pirelli World Challenge or IMSA’s Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, the FP350S will slot into club racing sprint-racing classes like SCCA’s T1 or into the TA3 or TA4 class in the Trans-Am Road Racing Series. It also could serve as a formidable and fun track-day or time-trials car.
The only things the new Shelby shares with the GT4 are the basic body-in-white from which they start and the rollcage, according to Dave Born, Ford Performance’s Engineering Manager. The engine starts with the same Shelby 5.2-liter V8, but the FIA’s regulations for GT4 cars mean that race car uses the base Mustang GT intake to produce greater horsepower and torque at lower RPM. The FP350S, however, will use the stock Shelby GT350R intake. That means this car makes more horsepower than the GT4 car. How much horsepower? “Quite a bit more,” Born said.
The engine also gets a baffled oil pan, straight pipes—no need for catalysts like the FIA requires for GT4—and upgraded cooling to many components. The oil cooler is upgraded, while the stock oil cooler located behind the front fascia is repurposed as a differential cooler. The front mounting gives it cleaner, cooler air that improves cooling necessary with the rear end taking additional punishment from the slick tires.
Stopping and turning are also dramatically improved over the roadgoing car; the AP Racing brakes stop the car enough that when Born was test-driving it, he would brake so early and so well that he’d have to accelerate again before the real braking point on the track. The anti-lock braking system is an updated version of that found on the S197 Mustangs rather than the complicated FIA-mandated system on the GT4. Coupled with two-way adjustable dampers, the FP350S should have no problems getting around a road course.
The Mustang GT4 has more extreme aerodynamic devices, though the new FP350S has its own carbon-fiber splitter and oversized rear wing. In an effort to make the FP350S more affordable than the professional-grade GT4, a number of production parts were left in place. Those include the stock fuel tank, radiator, and six-speed manual transmission.
A MoTec data acquisition system also comes standard on the FP350S. In fact, the only options will be a graphics package or the 18-inch Forgeline wheels from the GT4 that were shown on the demo car rather than the standard 19-inch wheels.