Ford Authority

Shelby Mustang Spied Testing Alongside Porsche 911 GT3: Spy Shots

The Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang carries into 2018 unchanged, despite the mid-cycle refresh that’s just come to Ford’s non-Shelby Mustang models, but if Ford plans on keeping the model around much longer, it will need an update. It first went on sale in 2015 as a 2016 model, and in the time since, Ford has only changed the available paint options and toyed with the options packages.

An update could be on the way, if a recent crop of spy photographs are any indication. The photos show the Shelby GT350 testing in Ford’s hometown of Dearborn, Michigan, alongside another sophisticated, high-performance car currently in production: a Porsche 911 GT3. You can find the photos on the Autoblog website.

Both the Porsche and the camouflage-clad Shelby Mustang are wearing manufacturer license plates, which means Ford is benchmarking their own car against the Porsche. That tells us one of two things:

1) Ford Could Be Readying A Dual-Clutch Transmission For The Shelby GT350 Mustang

As much as we all love rowing our own gears, and admire the Shelby GT350 for its strict “manual trans-only” policy, manual transmissions cost time on the racetrack. Humans can’t hope to change gears anywhere near as quickly as a computer, leading to relatively long interruptions in wheel torque. The solution is either a properly good planetary automatic transmission, or a dual-clutch unit.

We’re inclined to believe the latter might be coming to the Shelby GT350, not least of all because of clues like these recent spy photos. The Type-991 Porsche 911 GT3 has made do with a dual-clutch – and only a dual-clutch – since its introduction at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show (although a manual option was announced at this year’s Geneva show), and Porsche’s “PDK” unit has set the benchmark for dual-clutch transmissions for years.

2) This Could Be A Shelby GT500 Prototype

It’s also possible that we’ve misidentified the Shelby Mustang in the photos, and that it is, in fact, a new Shelby GT500. We’ve certainly seen a fair bit of evidence pointing to such a car being in the works, although the corner-carving 911 GT3 would be a less obvious benchmark vehicle for the straight line-focused GT500 than, say, an SRT Demon.

Either way, exciting times are ahead for the Shelby Mustang program. We can’t wait to see what Ford has in store for enthusiasts.

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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