Does the 2016 model hold up against the original 1965?
Recently, V8TV took a comparative look at the original 1965 Shelby GT350R, a race car that ruled the tracks during the muscle car golden age, and the 2016 Shelby GT350R. Despite these two vehicles sharing a nameplate, there’s a lot that’s different about them. How exactly do they stack up? The results may surprise you.
Shelby ditched pretty much everything it could to shed weight on the 1965 car, using plexiglass for windows, dumping the heater, and not including a radio, to name a few things. Shedding that weight freed up the blue-printed 289ci V8 to pull hard on straightaways with about 315-horsepower. The car gained a roll cage, racing seat, harness, and performance gauges for track use.
Bigger and heavier than the 1965 model, the 2016 Shelby GT350R has some big shoes to fill. There’s no denying its capabilities. It packs some serious heat with an aluminum flat-plane 5.2-liter V8, putting 526-horsepower to the wheels. The exhaust note sounds raw and exotic, but it’s different in sound from the original racer and not nearly as loud.
What you get with the modern GT350R is reliability. You can actually use the 2016 model on the daily basis, driving through the city, something the 1965 would not do well at in the least. Also, the newer model is actually pretty plus on the inside, while the old-school snake is stripped-down to ditch any extra weight.
While the 1965 Shelby GT350R is a real racer, it comes with all the real racer needs. The car isn’t exactly easy to drive, plus you need a trailer to get it to the track. On top of that, to keep that engine running smoothly you’ll need an experienced pit crew. With the 2016 model, pretty much anyone can handle the car, thanks to the wizardry of onboard electronics and other modern aids.
Ultimately, both cars use the same philosophy of upgrading the street version of the GT350 with track-proven methods, resulting in a highly-capable racer. But which will get you around the track faster? That’s the true question.