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Could An EcoBoost-Powered, AWD Shelby GT500 Be In Our Future?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Written by Aaron Brzozowski

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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3 Comments

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  1. I personally do not believe Ford would consider a 3.5L ecoboost AWD powertrain for a new Shelby GT500,

    People are assuming this just because the previous Ford GT used a engine that was similar (more like related than similar) as the 2011-2014 GT500, so they automatically assume if the 2017 Ford GT uses a 6cyl ecoboost, then the next GT500 will.

    I think the next GT500 will either use a lower compression version of the 5.2L voodoo engine equipped with direct injection and twin turbos or a detuned version of the supercharged 5.0L used in the current Cobra Jet race cars,

    This particular nameplate (Shelby GT500) is synonymous with a larger cubic inch supercharged V8 and I believe the product planners know this

    If a 3.5L ecoboost mustang is offered for sale it likely will be branded as a different model (maybe Mach 1) and slotted as a special edition between the mustang GT and Shelby Model(s)

    as for the splined front hubs, who knows, if an engineer had a specific design parameter in mind and a front hub from a
    4WD explorer fit the bill and resulted in a cost savings in design why not use it? doesn’t mean an AWD model is coming

  2. Honestly, if Ford is considering a twin turbo 5.2L or 5.0L the AWD makes sense as far as putting that power to the ground. If so I’d expect the GT500 to have a 0-60 time of less than three seconds. Think about it, Ford only has the Mustang to compete with the Corvette and the Camaro – what better way to do that than an AWD GT500? Yes this idea seems fetched, but so was a twin turbo V6 in an F150 and IRS in a Mustang at one point.

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