The Detroit motor show kicks off very soon; amongst other things it will see the debut of the new Mustang GT500, a supercharged, 700hp hell raiser ready to show the Camaro ZL1 who's boss. Expectations are high for this car, partly because the last GT500 was a bit of a spudder, but also with real belief because of how good this generation of GT350 Mustang has been.
It's difficult to overstate what the GT350 and GT350R have done for the reputation of the Mustang as a driver's car. Previous editions like the old Boss 302 have been decent enough, but these have been the vehicles that have made enthusiasts really take notice and forge a name for the Mustang - because those cars have been great, so we expect the GT500 to deliver as well.
When the standard GT350 was driven for PH back in 2015 it was described as "the best handling Mustang that Ford has ever built", a good car "despite the fact it's a tweaked Mustang" and comparable to an E92 M3 as something to drive - high praise indeed. Combine that with the fact the Mustang's Voodoo V8 is 100hp stronger than the BMW's (and the car isn't all that much heavier) and you can see why the package has won so many fans.
Officially the GT350 never made it over here, and probably never will, which seems a shame given its manifest talent and the desire for Mustangs in the UK. It's a problem with a lot of the new wave of US performance cars, offering so much of what we say we crave over here - naturally aspirated engines, manual gearboxes and so on - but without right-hand drive or official UK availability.
Still, where there's a will there's a way, and a few GT350s have been imported over from their homeland. Which is quite exciting if you're into 8,000rpm V8s, rear-wheel drive and manual gearboxes - which we most certainly are. And while the same US import caveats apply here as everywhere - a premium over list price, LHD only, issues with dealer support - the prospect is too interesting to ignore.
A 2018 model year car (meaning it lacks the latest range of updates) in Oxford White with Le Mans Blue stripes, this GT350 has just 28 miles recorded and so is as close to brand new as you'll ever find. It's being sold by Mustang specialist Bill Shepherd, which would probably be the best port of call for servicing as well. Given everything that's known about the car, given the public response in the UK to Mustangs from our experience and the rarity factor as well, it looks immensely desirable.
But does it look £80k desirable? Because that's what it'll cost to get a GT350 in the UK, against a US list price for a 2018MY car of $52k. Nobody probably needs reminding of what that sort of money buys in terms of sports coupes, but a few options to jog the memory: this Aston Vantage N430 also does rousing V8, sorted rear-drive dynamics and a manual for similar money, though will seem pretty common by comparison. This M4 CS won't leave anybody wanting for driving fun, though its turbos may rule it out of contention. And America is represented very well here by the Corvette Gran Sport, though once more its engine may be made to feel a bit ordinary against the Voodoo V8.
There's a heck of a lot going for the Mustang then, even at the money it costs in the UK. So yes, while the usual complaints will arise about interior plastics, image and size, for offering something so different - backed up by genuine star quality and a honking great engine - the GT350 looks mighty tempting indeed.
SPECIFICATION - FORD SHELBY MUSTANG GT350
Engine: 5,163cc V8
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 526@7,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 429@4,750rpm
MPG: 16. Ish
First registered: 2018
Recorded mileage: 28
Price new: Not sold in UK
Yours for: £79,500
See the original advert here.