If you’re anything like us, the way you most likely received the headline above is with utter incredulity. We understand, but bear with us.
This story comes to us by way of website StangTV, which reports that an NMRA (National Mustang Racers Association) driver named Joe Charles just took delivery of a new 2016 Ford Shelby GT350, and wasted no time at all putting the high-performance pony car on the lift. That’s where things got interesting; upon removing the front wheels from the car, Charles noticed that the hubs were splined as though to accept drive shafts.
Weird, right? After some basic detective work, Joe Charles learned that the wheel hub has a part number unique to the Shelby Mustang, forcing StangTV to conclude that the splined, bolt-on hubs might be units bound for a future, all-wheel drive Shelby GT500.
Question answered! Right?
Not so fast. We’ll be the first to admit that we can’t entirely discount the argument, but there are a number of other reasons that the hubs might be splined. For instance, it’s entirely possible that while the part number is unique to Shelby, the part itself is not; it could be recycled from another model with a different label. In fact, when Charles phoned someone at Ford Motor Company for more info, he was referred to a Ford Explorer part, or something of the like.
Of course, even if the hub is a Shelby-specific part, it’s quite possible that it was developed to be a common component between the front and rear axles to cut costs, the splines being necessitated by the part’s deployment at the rear of the car. And finally, we can’t overlook that a new Shelby F-150 is also set to arrive in the near future; the hub might as easily have been designed with that application in mind as an AWD Shelby GT500.
As for the prospect of EcoBoost power in a future Shelby GT500, that component of the rumor has nothing to do with the aforementioned bolt-on, splined wheel hub. StangTV cites as evidence both the prevalence of rumors, and the trickle-down precedent whereby a supercharged V8 akin to that in the 2005-’06 Ford GT supercar ended up in the last Shelby GT500. In other words, because the 2017 Ford GT is propelled by a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6, if history repeats itself, that same mill could end up in the Shelby GT500.
Again, unfortunately, that seems rather doubtful. A 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine seems utterly inappropriate for a celebrated American muscle icon like the Shelby GT500. In fact, if anything, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost might have gotten along far better with the more agile, track-focused GT350. Additionally, there’s another trend that StangTV doesn’t get around to mentioning: Shelby’s apparent taste for taking and modifying Ford Modular V8s. Both the 5.2-liter “Voodoo” V8 in the GT350, and the 5.8-liter “Trinity” V8 in the last Shelby GT500 used Ford’s “Coyote” V8 design as a starting point.
Naturally we can’t label the rumors of an EcoBoost-powered, all-wheel drive Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang false with any certainty, but with the evidence presented us by the folks at StangTV, we can at least deem them unsubstantiated.