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Ford’s Shelby Mustang GT350 to use a new, flat-plane crank, 600-HP V8

Shelby Mustangs are more than iconic figures in American motoring; they’re legends. When Carroll Shelby’s moniker adorns a car, you know it’s going to be something special.

Ford looks to be pulling out all the stops for the 2016 GT350 Mustang, as Motor Trend reports that the American automaker has developed an all-new engine for the special edition muscle car.

A 5.2-liter, flat-plane crank V8, the new engine is rumored to produce something in the ballpark of 600 horsepower. A flat-plane crank is typically used in racing cars and exotics like the Ferrari 458 and McLaren P1, but it’s easy to see why Ford chose the design for the new GT350.

A flat-plane crankshaft, also called a 180-degree crank, essentially resembles like two four-cylinders bolted together in a V configuration. Because of its design and alternating firing order, the motor needs no counterbalances, which means less rotational inertia, quicker revving, and more top-end power.

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Does that mean the new Mustang will trade a burbly V8 soundtrack for a Nascar-like scream? It’s too early to tell, but that wouldn’t be the only departure the GT350 makes from tradition.

According to previous reports, the Shelby looks to focus more on handling and track-based performance than straight-line speed, which is both uncharacteristic for the storied pony car and unequivocally awesome.

The car will likely produce less torque than normal as well (something on the order of 430 pound-feet), again emphasizing track performance where vehicles typically hang out in the upper rev range. Ford is no stranger to supercharged Mustangs, however, so don’t be surprised if those figures change when the car is ultimately released.

Ford is still sanding down the edges of the new Mustang, namely the excessive vibration of the flat-plane engine and the large displacement, but if the Mustang is successful, it would be a huge feather in the cap of Ford’s engineers.

(Main photo credit: Gurnade)