Ford's Shelby GT350 Mustang throws a left hook at the BMW M4 – will it land the punch or miss the mark when it launches in 2015?
It's a rare event that I get excited for a new car launch. The vast majority of cars are unremarkable, and the select few that are mouth-wateringly desirable are tongue-biting expensive.
I usually find some nit to pick at the launch of even the most desirable supercars, and this typically boils down to a mental exercise my brain plays to reduce the pain of never owning said car because I can't afford it, or am unwilling to dish out the required dollars. "I would buy that 458 Italia Speciale, but gosh those intakes are so angular."
It's a real humdinger then, when a car launches in the glow of perfection. Every detail having been honed and perfected, your eyes and ears are left with nothing but captive adoration. Those chrome air vents that reflected sunlight in your eyes: deleted. The void between the rear wheels where a limited–slip diff should sit: filled.
Of course, no car is perfect, but a few come very close to perfection. The Porsche 911 (GT3, above all), BMW M5, Ariel Atom, Rolls-Royce Ghost, Jaguar F-Type, Ford Fiesta ST – they're all cars that strike at perfection in their unique corners of the market and at various price points; they're all cars that constitute more than the sum of their parts, cars that are animated, characterful and – dare I say – magical. They're cars that allow you to overlook the few misgivings they have because the package is otherwise truly excellent and intoxicatingly rewarding to drive.
This brings us to the launch of the Shelby GT350. Nobody saw this coming – not to this degree of excellence.
The original GT350 was Carroll Shelby's first kick at the street-legal high(er) volume performance car can. Shelby's mandate with the GT350 was clear from the beginning, but the lump of clay that Ford continually handed him was, well… lumpy. Even Shelby – an accomplished racer and designer – couldn't quite shape the Mustang into a full-on world-class competitor on the same stage as BMW, Porsche, Ferrari, Lotus and other admittedly more expensive sports cars.
Fast-forward to 2011 and the GT350 nameplate was resurrected after a 40-year hiatus – but ultimately amounted to a bolt-on parts job by a tired Shelby garage that had yet another mediocre sports car platform to start with (can you say "wagon-axle?").
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