Shelby GT350 vs Mustang GT PP2: Head To Head
The S550 Mustang introduction to the world revolutionized the muscle car landscape and changed how the competition would look at the legendary pony car. Within the last five years, Ford and Ford Performance have pushed the S550 to the absolute edge of performance. Meanwhile, S550 Mustang models like the V6, EcoBoost, and GT's initial introduction were already a showstopper in 2015; it didn't stop engineers from looking to the past for inspiration. Shortly after that, the S550 launched, Ford Performance engineers and designers went all hands on deck to bring back a legend that hadn't seen showrooms in fifty years. Yes, we are talking about the legendary Shelby GT350! Its revitalization would make a sledgehammer impact on the entire sports car market once again as it did in 1965. Using inspiration from the original GT350 & GT350R, engineers went to work to create the most track-focused snake ever to hit the track or street. With modern technology and engineering, Ford Performance engineers came up with the most celebrated factory-built Shelby Mustang to see the road course.
As the years went by, Mustang engineers continued to find new ways to make the S550 stallion better and better. The use of a no-compromise attitude became the focal point for all Mustang engineers during this time. After regular business hours, engineers who are true car enthusiasts in their own right got together to tinker and figure out how they could make a better version out of the already potent GT Performance Pack. Their mission was simple, make the Mustang GT corner harder, grip fast, and be more agile out on the track, all while still giving potential consumers the ability to drive their pony daily. It resulted in forming the Mustang GT Performance Package Level 2; this is a racehorse on steroids, which the likes a Mustang GT has never seen in stock form. As the Mustang community knows when it comes to factory-built track cars, the GT350 is at the top of the food chain, whereas the Mustang GT PP2 is the new challenger within the herd to challenge for the top spot. So it begs the question which is better and what purpose each one serves in the Mustang family?
Fortunately, Steeda is here to settle this battle, so you don't have to; throughout the article, we will give you a complete analysis and overview to see who comes out on top!
Throughout Mustang history, there has always been a family rivalry between various models of the herd. For example, if you go back to the original Mustang in the 1960s, Ford pushed many other models to widen the customer base. Models like the Mach 1, Boss 302, GT, and Shelby GT350 made each stallion possible to one-up the other. This groundwork laid the foundation for all Mustang models to come after and ultimately led to the innovation that is in the S550 Mustang today. Unlike previous Mustang generations, the S550 changed the stereotype of what enthusiasts thought of when it came to the original pony car. Ford knew that changing the public's hearts and minds would have to radically revolutionize how a Mustang performed, looked, and felt to potential consumers.
Using these characteristics and thought processes, the Mustang engineers went to work to replace the outdated solid rear axle, obsolete interior, and poor handling. When it all was said and done, the S550 Mustang came to be what it is today because Mustang engineers never took the road less traveled, resulting in the no-compromise push to create the most advanced Mustang to ever come out of the Flat Rock Assembly Plant. While the Shelby GT350 was purpose-built to attack the road courses and autocross, the Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 is engineered to be the most agile Mustang GT to ever come directly from Ford. You're probably asking yourself how Mustang engineers developed such an innovative package that could exceed the already outstanding GT Performance Pack?
The story goes, Mustang engineers, who are passionate automotive enthusiasts, collaborated after regular Ford business hours in Ford's product development center to see how much farther they could push the already potent Mustang GT. Using lessons learned from Ford Performance engineers and the Shelby GT350, the Mustang team went to work to see what they could do to implement an even more hardcore pony. A focal point was made to integrate parts from the Shelby GT350, such as Magnaride suspension, wider wheels, stickier tires, and better cooling to aid the Mustang GT on track. It resulted in creating the most agile Mustang GT ever to be produced from Ford Motor Company. While unexpectedly creating another sibling rivalry in the process unknowingly.
Like any sibling rivalry, there will always be some heated debates and competition that will take place. The Shelby GT350 and Mustang GT PP2 are no different to this philosophy. First and foremost, the Shelby GT350 was designed, built, and engineered for any enthusiasts to buy and go straight from the road to the track without hesitation. With the groundwork set and chassis developed, Ford's incredible engineers went to work to improve the S550 Mustang to new heights. Engineers started by completely revising the front end of the S550 with a wider front track, stiffer materials, including carbon-fiber composite, better airflow, aerodynamics, and chassis rigidity.
Implementing these characteristics and components was vital to ensuring the S550 Shelby GT350 became the most agile and sophisticated Cobra to hit the streets. After four years went by with full production of the GT350 & GT350R, Ford went back to the drawing board to inject even more venom into the track monster. Engineers eventually discovered that by adding even more aerodynamics in the swing spoiler, stickier Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires standard, improving braking further, and better cooling, they could shave off lap times and improve downforce, and increase handling. These ideas and characteristics led to engineers being able to tinker on the original Performance Pack Mustang GT.
As the Shelby GT350 was built for track use using its 5.2L "Voodoo" Flat Plane Crankshaft V8, incredible braking, variable exhaust modes, aerodynamics, and calibration. Mustang engineers looked to using similar characteristics to build an even more track-focused Mustang without breaking the bank for enthusiasts. After many long nights and months, the performance-crazed engineers were able to add an offering that put the pony on steroids. Ending in the result of the Mustang GT Performance Package Level 2, this thoroughbred of a Mustang showed the track world that it doesn't take the top dollar to compete at a track day. Using the broad spectrum of parts from the Shelby GT350, engineers figured out how to have the Mustang GT become more precise, agile, and quicker only by adding specific components in the name of speed and handling.
Many enthusiasts have said that the GT Performance Pack 2 is a baby version of the Shelby GT350. Now you have to ask yourself, what are you willing to spend in the name of speed and performance? Where the Mustang GT PP2 is sub $45,000 and the GT350 is well over $60,000, you will have to address what is very important to you as far as components, drivetrain, features, and overall status. The PP2 at the end of the day is a Mustang GT with a host of upgraded parts, including Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, larger radiator, TORSEN 3.73 differential, wider aluminum wheels, K-Brace, MagneRide dampers, and performance front splitter. Similar options are also found in the GT350, but you have to ask yourself, is the extra $15,000 worth it?
To make it easier on you, Steeda believes that if you're the type of enthusiast who wants to drive and track your Mustang, we say opt for the GT Performance Pack Level 2 Mustang. Contrary to popular belief, every Mustang owner will want to modify their pony to their liking in suspension, braking, engine performance, and exterior. As most enthusiasts know, the Shelby GT350 will edge the Performance Pack 2 from the factory because of its 5.2L Voodoo engine, wider front track, power delivery, and aerodynamics. While on the other hand, you can save that money and progress with your Mustang while you become a better driver.
Throughout Mustang history, few models are more significant than the GT350. During the Mustang's early years, Lee Iacocca knew that to get the Mustang to become a complete success; he needed legendary racer and car builder Carroll Shelby to make a racehorse out of the mule. So with complete trust in Shelby, Iacocca put full confidence in him to build a performance car out of the 1965 Mustang Fastback. Using a high-output 289 cubic inch Ford V8, stiffer suspension, revised fuel system, stickier tires, and bigger brakes, Carroll was able to inject his famous Cobra venom into the Mustang. Helping it finally become the racehorse Lee Iacocca envisioned since the original concept.
Fast-forward fifty years later, Carroll's same mindset and philosophy were injected into the S550 Shelby GT350. The GT350 reinvigorated a segment of enthusiasts that had been waiting decades for the return of the original snake. For over a century, Ford has pushed the edge on what is humanly possible for anything automotive. Using this mindset, engineers developed the most advanced eight-cylinder engine ever produced from Ford. It came to be known as the "Voodoo" 5.2L Flat Plane Crank V8; unlike a traditional cross-plane crank, a flat-plane crankshaft fires in different firing order then its 5.0L Coyote V8 based counterpart. For Ford, this was unheard of in the automotive community unless it was for racing applications. The Voodoo engine is so technologically advanced that it allows for a whopping 8,250 RPM redline unheard of from an American production vehicle. It will enable the GT350 to balance power and agility while ripping it around a road course or autocross.
To give the GT350 characteristics of being powerful and yet graceful, Ford Performance engineers ensured it had the best suspension from a factory-built Mustang in history. Using technology in the form of MagneRide dampers, vehicle dynamic engineers enabled the GT350 to have the best lateral grip possible thanks to its independent rear suspension, upgraded sway bars, chassis rigidity, and aerodynamics. These tools helped the GT350 to absolutely slay its number one rival in the Camaro. Unlike Shelby models of the past during the S197 Mustang generation, they suffered from massive understeer upon corner entry. Mustang engineers rose to the challenge to correct this problem with its suspension and, most notably, by how it would brake and put down its power. These characteristics show why Ford got it right for the first time; they knew it was possible by giving the S550 Mustang the most powerful naturally aspirated engine while complimenting it with racecar-like suspension.
There is no question in any Shelby and Mustang enthusiast mind that the Shelby GT350 is hands down the best track-focused factory-built Shelby in history. It is due to the no-compromise pursuit of perfection that the Mustang and Ford Performance engineers made happen.
Mustang GT Performance Pack 2
Over many decades, Ford has made strides to make the Mustang the working man's sports car for anyone to obtain. This mentality still holds very true in today's modern world, whereas cars like the BMW M4 and Porsche 911 are costly and can be hard to obtain for the average enthusiast. While the S197 Mustang was still in production, Mustang engineers introduced the GT model's first performance package; it was to aid enthusiasts in becoming more competitive amongst its European and Japanese automotive rivals. Adding components such as bigger Brembo calipers and rotors, transmission cooler, better engine airflow, dampening, and engine calibration helped take a step toward the competition.
Well, in 2015, when the S550 Mustang debuted, Ford didn't hold back in offering a progression of the original Performance Package for all GT models. To step up to its competitors, Ford invigorated some of the sauce that was in the GT350. Invigorating many performance parts such as suspension, stiffer sway bars, strut tower brace, free-flowing exhaust, massive six-piston Brembo front calipers and rotors, and specific tires. Unfortunately, Ford eventually came to another crossroads where the competition took a leg up again for track work. To fix this, it would take the very best of Mustang engineers who are pure car enthusiasts through and through.
To address this, Ford Mustang engineers went right to work, staying long hours after everyone in the product development offices went home. Tinkering with the full parts bin, they figured out how to bring the Mustang GT to the forefront amongst its main competition in the Camaro SS 1LE, BMW M4, and Challenger Scat Pack 392. What they came up with was a complete list of solutions that would aid the S550 Mustang GT to handle better, get the Gen III Coyote's 460 horsepower down to the ground, turn-in quicker thanks to its revised MagneRide suspension, and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.
They were turning the already potent American pony into something that every performance enthusiast can aspire to have. The Mustang team's mission was to create a next-level performance package so that any enthusiast could go directly to their local autocross, road course, or canyon road, and compete very well. Accomplishing this took the following component to make it happen:
- Brembo Six-Piston Front Calipers with Larger Vented Rotors
- Strut Tower Brace
- Unique Rear Spoiler
- TORSEN 3.73 Rear Differential
- Larger Front Splitter
- Larger Capacity Radiator
- Gauge Pack (Vaccum & Oil Pressure)
- Aluminum Instrument Panel
- MagneRide Dampening with Track Calibration
- Track Inspried Springs & Sway Bars
- Unique Chassis Tuning and Stability Control
GT350 vs Mustang GT PP2: Engine & Performance
Shelby GT350: 5.2L "Voodoo" V8
If you look at the 5.2L Voodoo V8 engine, it is an engineering marvel in every single way. Never before in Ford or Mustang history has there ever been Ferrari-like engine technology integrated into Ford-based performance vehicles. Ford used massive displacement with forced induction in a supercharger to create large horsepower amounts in the past. Since the S550 GT350 is centrally focused on being the fastest and quickest track-oriented Shelby in history, it is no wonder why Ford built the most powerful naturally aspirated V8 engine in company history. To make this happen, powertrain engineers went all-in on evolving the Coyote 5.0L engine.
As a base block, the "Coyote" engine is 302 cubic inches; therefore, it needed a way to produce more RPM, broader powerband, increased torque, and be able to better breathe throughout its power range. To accomplish this feat, engineers bored and stroked the engine block to a displacement of 315 cubic inches or 5.2 liters. Simultaneously, complimenting the engine block with a less restrictive intake manifold and reworking the cylinder heads to provide more CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) of air to produce all 526 horsepower. Most importantly, the crown jewel to make this all happen is the all-aluminum forged flat-plane crankshaft to give it its 8,250 RPM redline. Without the Voodoo engine and the work that went into developing the GT350, it wouldn't be the Shelby we all know and love today!
As each Voodoo engine is assembled it is built with the following components:
- Remote air-to-oil engine oil cooler
- Forged aluminum flat plane crankshaft
- Forged aluminum I-beam connecting rods
- Composite wet sump oil pan
- Bulkhead style piston squirters
- Forged aluminum pistons
- Forged aluminum block with steel sleeves
- Hallow stem intake valves
- Cast aluminum block and head with plasma transfer wire arc cylinder liners
- Large inlet oil pump
- Sequential multiport fuel injection
- Forged rotating assembly
Mustang GT PP2: Gen III 5.0L Coyote
Chances are if you have seen a Mustang within the last decade, you know the howl of the almighty 5.0L Coyote V8. Since the Coyote debuted in 2011, the world of American performance has never been the same. Throughout the last nine years, Mustang powertrain engineers have improved the success of Ford's most significant engine achievement in company history. What makes the Coyote so unique its ability to make power on-demand without skipping a beat.
Most recently, Mustang engineers in 2018 launched the latest iteration of the legendary Coyote in the Gen III. This variant pushed the edge of what can be possible for a Mustang engine. Starting with a complete forged Boss crankshaft, pistons, connecting rods, and a wholly revised fuel system that includes both direct and port injection. Unlike the first two Coyote generations, the Gen III evolves the status quo by integrating higher compression of 12.0:1, a revised intake manifold, and a factory cold air intake system. All this adds up to help the Gen III Coyote 5.0L run more efficiently while creating more horsepower and torque at will. So this will help the Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 come off each hairpin corner with 460 horsepower and 420 lb/ft of torque with a staggering redline of 7,500 RPM.
Furthermore, thanks to an abundance of aftermarket support for the Gen III 5.0L Coyote V8, companies like Steeda make it easier to modify, giving you the option to add more horsepower as your driving skill on the track improves. It is where the Mustang GT PP2 shines best because of the ability to modify it without having to feel like you need the GT350. It allows you to have an excellent daily driver while still having the ability to hit your local autocross or road course on the weekends. To improve Gen III, 5.0L Coyote's already potency; enthusiasts will seek many modifications, including; long-tube headers, cat-back exhaust, cold air intake, twin-disc clutch, and larger throttle body. All of which will help you get the edge over the Shelby GT350 in terms of raw horsepower and torque when it counts most.
GT350 vs Mustang GT PP2: Transmission
GT350: Tremec TR-3160
When it comes down to brass tax, the Shelby GT350 is purposely designed to have the best of everything that the Mustang and Ford Performance engineers could throw at it. It is no different from its transmission; implementing a Tremec transmission is something Ford is all too familiar with in Mustang history. The GT350 is no exception; drivetrain engineers wanted to implement the very best to help potential owners and enthusiasts connect to their Shelby in the best possible way. To implement this, they turned to the latest version of Tremec's performance lineup of gearboxes. Dropping in the very stout and sophisticated TR-3160 transmission was the only gearbox that would stand up to the challenge of handling 526 horsepower and 426 lb/ft of torque while redlining at 8,250.
It features six speeds, all of which are close ratio for optimal shifting and precise heel-toe downshifts when entering crucial corners out on your local road course, mountain road, or autocross. From a pure engineering standpoint, it is a marvel, and we think it is one of the best manual transmissions to have been implemented into a Shelby.
Mustang GT PP2: Getrag MT-82
Since 2011, the Mustang GT has been equipped with the Getrag MT-82 transmission, which some say could be better in terms of shift points, engagement, and build quality. Over the last decade, Ford has made strides to make better generations of the MT-82 to improve confidence in manual transmission Mustang models. The Mustang GT Performance Pack Level 2 is no different to this philosophy, just like the GEN III Coyote, Ford ensured the latest MT-82 would receive a revised shifter linkage, twin-disc clutch, lightweight flywheel, and more powerful internals.
It gave the Mustang GT PP2 better transition throughout corner entry and exit without throwing off vehicle dynamics. One area in which Steeda has always been able to help the MT-82 transmission is providing enthusiasts and owners the ability to upgrade their shifter with one of our Race Tri-Ax Short Throw Shifters. You are adding to your ability to gain more confidence in your PP2 Mustang at every level, whether driving on the street, on a favorite backroad, or taking out the competition at the road course.
GT350 vs Mustang GT PP2: Vehicle Specs
|Vehicle Specs||Shelby GT350||Mustang GT Performance Pack 2|
|Base Price||$59,140 ($73,435 For GT350R)||$44,685|
|Drivetrain Layout||Front Engine, RWD||Front Engine, RWD|
|Engine||“Voodoo” Flat Plane Crank 90-degree V-8, Aluminum Block & Cylinder Heads||"Coyote" Gen III 5.0L Ti-VCT 32V V8, Aluminum Block & Cylinder Heads|
|Valvetrain||32V DOHC TI-VCT||32V DOHC TI-VCT|
|Displacement||5.2L, 315 Cubic Inches||5.0L, 302 Cubic Inches|
|Torque||426 LB/FT||420 LB/FT|
|Redline||8,250 RPM||7,500 RPM|
|Transmission||Tremec TR-3160 6-Speed Manual Transmission||Getrag MT-82 6-Speed Manual Transmission|
|Rear Axle Ratio||TORSEN 3.73||TORSEN 3.73|
|Front Suspention Configuration||Magneride Dampers, Struts, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar||Magneride Dampers, Struts, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar|
|Rear Suspension Configuration||Magneride Dampers, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar||Magneride Dampers, Coil Springs, Adj Shocks, Anti-Roll Bar|
|Brakes Front & Rear||Brembo 6-Piston Front, 4-Piston Rear, ABS||Brembo 6-Piston Front, Single Piston Rear|
|Wheels||19” x 10.5” / 19” x 11.”, Forged Alloy||19” x 10.5” / 19” x 11.”, Aluminum Alloy|
|Tires||305/30R19 103Y / 315/30R19 104Y, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2||305/30R19 103Y / 305/30R19 104Y, Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2|
Image Credit: Ford, Ford Performance, Car & Driver