Space-Age Technology Helps Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang Take Flight

Shelby GT350R carbon fiber wheel

The Ford Shelby® GT350R Mustang is shaping up to be one helluva track monster. This track-ready, street legal production Mustang will have a set of carbon fiber wheels that are light, strong and now features thermal protection developed for the Space Shuttle. This ceramic plasma arc spray on the front wheels provides thermal protection from the heat generated by the brakes.

During track testing, it was discovered that the Shelby GT350R’s brake system was creating rotor temperatures in excess of 900 degrees Celsius (1,652° Fahrenheit). Aluminum has a melting point of 660 degrees Celsius (1,221° Fahrenheit). Thus, a wheel that can stand up to the rigors of racing was spec’d for the track-ready Mustang. Now the Shelby GT350R has wheels that are light, super stiff, and resilient to harsh environmental conditions.

Track junkies and sport enthusiasts are familiar with reducing unsprung weight as much as possible because of the serious benefit towards improving suspension response times, chassis dynamics, steering feel, and ride quality. With the use of carbon fiber, cutting the weight of each wheel from 33 pounds to 18 pounds (compared to an aluminum wheel) equates to a 40 percent reduction of rotational inertia and greatly improves acceleration and braking performance.

Up to now, carbon fiber wheels have been available in the aftermarket and produced in low quantities. And the come with a hefty price tag. Ford and Australian supplier Carbon Revolution have successfully crafted the first mass-produced, track-capable carbon fiber wheels as standard equipment for the Shelby GT350R.

“The GT350R wheels and tires were developed to be the most track-capable parts we’ve ever produced,” said Adam Wirth, chassis supervisor, Ford Performance. “The carbon fiber wheels reduce vehicle weight by 60 pounds compared to aluminum, yet are stiffer for better steering response.

“We believe this is a game changer for the industry,” he added, “a great example of improved performance through innovation.”

In addition to its $61,370 MSRP, here are all the details we know about the Shelby GT350R Mustang thus far: