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This is the new Shelby GT350 Mustang, the most extreme iteration yet of Ford’s sixth-gen pony car. And under that angry, stripped bonnet lurks nothing less than the most powerful naturally aspirated motor ever fitted to a production Ford.

Over 500bhp of power, to be more precise, courtesy of a 5.2-litre V8 that Ford calls ‘essentially an all-new powerplant.”

It’s the Blue Oval’s first production V8 ever to employ a flat-plane crankshaft, a configuration Ford says permits faster revving, better cylinder breathing and an even better noise (a “distinctive, throaty howl,” according to Ford performance boss Jamal Hameedi).

Oh, and no shortage of torque, either: the GT350’s peak twist output stands at over 400lb ft.

All that power reaches the rear wheels through a lightweight six-speed manual transmission. Though Ford’s yet to release performance figures, the GT350 is surely to significantly undermine the 4.4-second 0-62mph run of the latest 435bhp Mustang GT V8.

There are plenty of other performance goodies, too. Behind its 19-inch alloys, the GT350 boasts what Ford calls its ‘most track-credible brake system ever’, with 394mm rotors and Brembo six-piston calipers up front, and 380mm rotors with four-piston calipers at the rear.

The Shelby is also the first Ford to get continuously controlled magnetorheological adaptive damping - or ‘MagneRide’ in Blue Oval-speak. This can be adjusted with the five-mode driver control system, which also toggles ABS, traction and stability control, steering and throttle mapping depending how fervent the call of your inner Stig.

On the outside, you’ll spot the GT350’s deeper front splitter, new bonnet vent and diffuser at the rear: all changes, says Ford, driven by necessity rather than aesthetics. “Everything we changed on the GT350 is purely function-driven design with the goal of improving the overall performance of the car,” reckons Mustang designer Chris Svensson.

On the inside, you’ve got Recaro buckets and a flat-bottomed steering wheel. But this is no hosed-to-the-bone racer: you can still have your GT350 with leather, LCD touchscreen and dual-zone air con, should you so desire.

The first Shelby GT350 arrived back in 1965, packing a 306bhp 4.7-litre V8 and establishing the Mustang as something of a track monster. Ford says the latest GT350 is faithful to its heritage, describing the Shelby as ‘an all-day track car that’s also street legal’.

“We wanted to build the best possible Mustang for the places we most love to drive,” says Ford’s Raj Nair. “Challenging back roads with a variety of corners and elevation changes… and the track on weekends.”

A noble goal indeed. Sadly Ford says the GT350 - unlike the stock Mustang - won’t be coming to the UK, at least not in right-hand drive. Shocked and horrified by this cruel sanction against the UK? Make some noise below, proud Brits…

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