The 2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R looks great in Lightning Blue

It’s not an overstatement to describe the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R as the most fun I’ve ever had at a race track. The Ford Performance engineers were targeting a car with not only power and poise but also uncompromised at-the-limit communication and confidence. And they nailed it.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Engine

The flat-plane V8 engine makes a glorious exhaust note as it revs past 8,000 rpm

Much ado has been made about the GT350R’s flat-plane V8, and deservedly so. The engine revs past 8,000 rpm, creating a glorious exhaust note while offering one of the broadest torque bands you’ll find in a modern, or vintage, automobile. The engine makes 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque. It’s mated to a slick-shifting Tremec 6-speed that sends power to a mechanical limited-slip differential.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Front

The GT350R can be ordered with optional stripes in various colors

The Shelby GT350R’s drivetrain is undeniably impressive, but it’s this Mustang’s handling capabilities that made me fall in love during the Ford GT Owners Rally in Utah. Hammering this car around Utah Motorsports Campus quickly illustrated both its ultimate grip and its confidence-inspiring behavior at the limit of traction.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Wheel

Carbon fiber wheels and Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires are included in the GT350R package

Credit the synchronization of its electronically-assisted power steering, MagneRide adaptive suspension, carbon fiber 19-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires and Brembo disc brakes. Driven aggressively on the track the GT350R can produce over 1.1 G of lateral grip, which could be dicey depending on the car’s behavior when grip levels are surpassed.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Rear

A carbon fiber rear wing and red Cobra emblems are also part of the GT350R package

Yet in the Shelby GT350R ultimate grip is followed by gentle, controllable breakaway. Once you understand this your willingness to explore its limits soars, as mine did around the 23 turns of Utah Motorsports Campus. This is the defining characteristic of the GT350R, and what makes it such a joy on the track. Few drivers have the skill to explore a vehicles ultimate capabilities, but when a car is as well behaved as the Shelby GT350R is even average drivers can bask in its performance.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Gauges

The Shelby GT350R includes a track mode with specific traction and stability control settings

These cars have consistently transacted at above their $65,000 MSRP, which can make finding and buying one frustrating. But I believe these cars will go down in history as a special moment in the Msutang’s long story. If you can find one at a price that seems fair, and you intend to truly exploit its engineering prowess on a track, you won’t be disappointed.

2017 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350R Seat

Recaro front seats offer superb lateral support in the GT350R