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2011 Shelby GT350 at Barrett-Jackson – Click above for high-res image gallery

The 2011 Shelby GT350 seemed to have a polarizing effect when it debuted at Barrett-Jackson's opening gala event on Monday night. Some of you loved it and others instantly objected to everything from the looks of the car to the $33,995 price tag that doesn't include the base car. With 500 horsepower from the new 5.0-liter V8, there's no arguing that the 2011 GT350 has plenty of performance potential, but is another $60,000+ Mustang what people really want?

The first thing we did when we arrived in Scottsdale last night was to make a bee-line to check out the car in person. We also caught up with Jim Owens, Shelby's Vice President of Marketing and Communications, who talked to us about the car. Follow the jump for what we learned about the 2011 GT350.

Photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

For starters, Shelby did not want to build another Shelby GT. "We asked ourselves what we needed to do to build a car that would live up to the name," Owens told us. "We wanted to deliver on that heritage, and I think we have done that." While other cars might start with a lower price point and the engineers fit everything they can under it, the GT350 was designed the opposite way. A performance bar was set, and then the car was built to meet that expectation. The GT350 had to have more horsepower, which also meant adding additional components like 14-inch, 6-piston brakes to compensate. Add in a custom-tuned suspension, a unique body kit and hood, plus a custom interior and you've got yourself a $60,000 Mustang. It's not a price point that Shelby originally targeted, but that's what it needed to be for Shelby to build the GT350 they wanted to build.

Price aside, what about the styling? The 2011 GT350 takes cues from each year of the classic versions. "It's a lot of things that were historic and iconic that were a representation of the car," Owens told us regarding the inspiration for the design. There's actually quite a bit of the '69 and '70 model in the 2011 model, especially if you look at the rear of the car. We're still not sure if a combination of design cues was the best way to go, and would have liked to see more or even complete inspiration from the simpler '65 and '66 models.

We found a sketch of the original design concept and actually like it better than the real thing. It seems to have a cleaner look that is missing from the final product. Items like the grille and taillights don't necessarily flow perfectly with the design of the car, although Owens was quick to remind us that the car at the auction was still technically a concept. Any or all of the design elements are subject to tweaking, adjustments and changes before it goes to production. We also expect the overall fit and finish to be improved, since the car you see here was put together in about a month.

When it comes down to it, Shelby believes they have built the best GT350 they could. It might cost more than than most Mustang owners can afford, and not everyone will like the way it looks, but we fully expect it to perform like a $60,000 sports car. "It's going to deliver the performance this car deserves," Owens promised us. We'll take his word for now, but we're going to reserve our final judgment until we can get behind the wheel.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      California Special please.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Response to the average "JOE" Mustang Fanboy.

      Wake up call: the "solid rear axle" is NOT a feature! It is more like: Um, We're Ford and will continue to sell the cheaper solid rear axle until the stupid rubes finally figure out it is actually inferior.

      No offense Dude, but you are exactly the type of non-discriminating Chump that they are counting on.

      Do yourself and all the rest of the Mustang enthusiasts a favor and push Ford to spend an R&D buck on the suspension. If are truly a fan, then you will fathom why that is critical to the long term survival of the car to actually improve it.

      FYI...I am definitely a Mustang enthusiast, but I would like to actually see the car progress instead of the tacky raping that Shelby is offering yet again on this "special edition" ...American Style!.

      Lastly, $60K is $60K, regardless of whether you spend it on this travesty of a special edition like that particular iteration of the Mustang or on a world class car like an M3 or C63. The only difference between the aforementioned actions is actually how smart each of the buyers are. My $$ is on the M3 or C63 buyer, and the market place will be the ultimate arbitor.
      • 5 Years Ago

      Somebody please attempt to count up how many times "Shelby" is written on that car.

      Yeah we get it Carroll.

      Tacky does not begin to describe it.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love Shelbys and all but I think things are geting a little out of hand, what is wrong with just the Good Old Ford Mustang GT?
      • 5 Years Ago
      if i had 60k i would buy it over a gt500, because it's all shelby, not svt and it looks awesome, plus the gt350 was the original shelby mustang, unless I'm mistaken
        • 5 Years Ago
        great, just never open the drivers side door. That way no one sees all the hard work and sweat that went into that totally awesome not something that looks like it belongs in a '89 civic hatchback that has been slammed to the ground gauge cluster!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Those gauges are more dependable than any dummy gauge they could've put in the instrument cluster.

        They should've gotten ones that match the interior better however, these look like they were leftovers from another project.
        • 5 Years Ago
        SHUT UP!
        • 5 Years Ago
        its just a gauge cluster, function over form, I'm an ariel atom fan so that might explain why that doesn't bother me
      • 5 Years Ago
      I love Mustangs but this is a little over the top for me. I like the sleepers better.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Well, as we can see, that is just the "keep it as it is" mentality that has gotten the Big 3 into financial trouble.

      Some people like mediocre vehicles, but not ALL people, and that is more likely what GM & Ford needs to survive. They need to capture the hearts and minds of ALL drivers, not just a few "enthusiasts" that would be better served by just restoring an existing dinosaur.

      My prediction: Chrysler is dead in less than 3 years. The Mustang and Camaro are gone in 3-4 years. The Corvette is doomed in 5 years.

      Don't want to see it happen, but things are not progressing as they should...
      • 5 Years Ago
      too much cheese!
      • 5 Years Ago
      That gauge cluster is laughable at best.
      • 5 Years Ago
      yeh i agree with travis definately waiting for this one! I want it in my garage hahahaa no where else then race that puppy!
      • 5 Years Ago
      How many comments have i read stating this Shelby is overdone... YOU ARE ALL SO RIGHT. All it needs is some 50's style tail fins too. Shelby is using bolt-on parts so this extra cash is a joke and the styling is overdone and heavy.

      Just get your own bast 2011 GT and build it out yourself a hell of a lot less expensive then the shelby.

      Even better design one such as the SPEED world challenge Applied Computer Solutions/Sun Microsystems cobra. Clean, powerful and functional.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Is it REALLY news to anyone that a Shelby GT350 or GT500 appears "overdone"? Come on people, those models have ALWAYS been the poster-children for overdone, garish cars. Somehow, that's always been ok though. So why is it that so many seen to take exception to that decades old recipe?
      • 5 Years Ago
      when you hit the 60K mark your options are pretty wide open, I mean you could get a nicely optioned 2010 M3, 75% of a GT-R, you can find 08 and 09 *new* Z06's for high 50s/low 60's.

      I won't knock the work that went into this car, but for that price you have to be willing to overlook some of its' shortcomings and really really really love the mustang.

      Other thing I noticed from the pics - the mustang is already pretty damn fat, 3950lbs from what I can find, instead of putting billet metal all over the place under the hood (yes I know its for looks) why not do what you can to shave some weight off of it?
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