Two awesome GT350Rs from The Brothers Collection. The letter “R” has been used for years to designate “Race” of some sort, and although the term “Race” has been used pretty loosely in recent years, they took it seriously in the 1960s. For example, the R-Code 427 Fords of the day were high-compression, tight-tolerance machines that were far happier on the race track than they were idling in traffic. When Shelby added the R designation to the GT350s, he wasn’t kidding, as the R model was a real race car with no intention of street use like the standard GT350s.
These cars received major changes from regular Mustangs, first by being gutted of all sound deadeners, window regulators, and other weight-adding nonsense like the radio and heater. Fiberglass body panels and plexiglass windows were slipped in place of heavier steel, and the bumpers and unnecessary trim were jettisoned.
Additions include revised suspension geometry with stiffer springs and adjustable Koni shocks, stiffer rate sway bar, larger brakes, and lightweight wheels. A roll cage, racing seat, harness, and performance gauges greeted the driver. These were powered by a blueprinted 289 making somewhere around 315 HP with high compression, an aggressive cam, and minimal exhaust… once you start the car, you know it’s not for street use. And this particular car has a long history of taking to the competition and winning races.
You can learn more about the rich history of our feature GT350R in episode #208 of Muscle Car Of The Week.
On the flip side, although the modern GT350R is bigger and heavier than the original, it’s still a very capable machine. The aluminum flat-plane 5.2 liter V8 spins up 526 HP of power AND delivers daily-driver reliability, and although it has a fantastic rumble, it’s nowhere near as loud as the open-piped ‘65 R. The 2016 GT350R uses technology to bring power, handling, and braking performance to high levels, all without sacrificing the interior comfort and amenities like A/C and a killer stereo. We looked further into this car in episode 229 of Muscle Car Of The Week.
The 19” carbon fiber wheels mask 15” floating rotor brakes with radially mounted calipers… thinking not yet conceived when the ‘65 car was built, resulting in amazing stopping power from a lightweight system. The carbon fiber wheels alone shave about 50 lbs off the unsprung mass. Special lightweight spindle uprights were designed for the R car to accommodate the 10.5 and 11.5” wide wheels, and these lead a host of suspension upgrades specific to the GT350R. Although the technology is decades apart, it’s apparent that the philosophy of these two cars is identical… revise the street version with legit track-proven strategies to create a highly capable car without hiring a race shop to build it.
We invite you to check out our previous features of both of these cars if you have not already done so to learn more.
2016 Ford Shelby GT350R vs 65 : Muscle Car Of The Week Video Episode 302 V8TV
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