Return of Shelby? Ford may add GT 350, Mach 1 models to the Mustang lineup

2011 Shelby GT 350Recent reports suggested that Ford would retire the vaunted Shelby name with its next generation of Mustang, but there may still be some life in that beloved badge.

According to fan site MustangsDaily, Ford could introduce a new Shelby GT 350 in 2016. The GT 350 is the model that preceded the GT 500, which is still in production today, and traditionally came in below the 500 in power and price.

The GT 350 is most famous for being part of Hertz’s “Rent a Racer” program in the 1960s. A fleet of the cars in a bespoke black-and-gold scheme were available at rentail counters nationwide. Could you imagine picking up a 2013 Shelby Mustang at the airport kiosk today?

The GT 350 name was been largely dormant since the end of the Muscle Car era, although Shelby American continues to build the burly GT 350 (pictured above) independent of Ford.

Following the GT 350, Ford will reportedly double the nostalgia by reviving the Mach 1 name for 2017. In addition to having one of the coolest names in cardom, the original 1969 Mach 1 marked Ford’s official break from Shelby when it came to performance Mustangs. The model was revived briefly in 2003.

Ford may seem to be flip-flopping with the Shelby name, but there’s a lot of history behind it. Automotive impresario Carroll Shelby used Ford engines to give his Cobra sports cars some venom, and was later contracted to design the original GT 350, which became the first true performance Mustang when it launched in 1965.

However, the more recent Shelby models have been developed entirely by Ford’s in-house Special Vehicle Team (SVT), hence the company’s decision to drop the Shelby GT 500 moniker for SVT Cobra.

Even if Ford decides to drop the Shelby name for good, you’ll still be able to buy a Shelby Mustang. Shelby American, the independent company founded by Carroll Shelby, will continue to produce post-title conversions with up to 1,200 horsepower.

Should Ford revive the GT 350 and Mach 1 names? Tell us in the comments.