Sibling Rivalry: Steeda Video Series Compares Shelby GT350R & GT500

We live in wonderful times. For Mustang fans, there is a broad spectrum of high-performance pony cars to choose from. However, for those wanting top-level performance right off the showroom floor, there are two clear choices — the Shelby GT350R and the Shelby GT500. Before it set out in developing parts for the latest GT500, Steeda set out to compare the two machines in a video series.

It was a no-brainer to take the R-spec GT350 and match it up with a Carbon Fiber Track Pack-equipped GT500. — Chris Cervenka, Steeda

In the market for a new Mustang? Want the best possible factory performance for your needs? Which would you choose, the 2019 Shelby GT350R or the 2020 Shelby GT500? Steeda will help you decide with a series of videos. (Photos courtesy of Steeda)

“Before the new GT500 made its debut, the GT350R was the king of the hill for the Ford Mustang,” Steeda E-Commerce Marketing Director Chris Cervenka told us. “It was a no-brainer to take the R-spec GT350 and match it up with a Carbon Fiber Track Pack-equipped GT500. They’re both meant for track use, so why not put them both in an environment where they’ll shine?”

First, the Steeda team compared the GT350R and the GT500, which is optioned up with the $18,000 Carbon Fiber Track Package. Then they took to the streets for a drive, noting that the R-model is a bit more compliant on the street than the heavier, more tightly sprung GT500. While the powertrain variances are instantly obvious, it is the nuances that the comparison reveals.

“Outside the obvious differences with both vehicles, I’d have to say the brakes. There have been a couple other articles out there that mentioned the GT500’s brake feel. I never noticed it until I drove the 350R and 500 back-to-back in this setting. When you threshold brake in the GT350R, it’s easy. You know exactly where your foot should be going up until that point of ABS intervention,” Cervenka explained. “The GT500, on the other hand, still has good brake feel, but not excellent like the 350R. It was surprising to me, because the brakes are indeed larger on the GT500.”

Highlighting that difference was a trip to the autocross course with the two Ford Performance alpha Mustangs. Obviously the R-model GT350 is a native corner-carver, but the do-it-all-well Swiss Army knife that is the latest GT500 definitely held its own.

First, the Steeda team compared the features of the two Shelbys before hitting the streets for a driving comparison. That drive revealed a slightly more comfortable ride from the nimble GT350R.

Of course, this comparison of the stock machines is really just the beginning for the company’s content and engineering efforts. Inherently, Steeda’s mission mandates the creation of upgrades that will elevate the performance of these vehicles. With the stock comparisons complete, the time for modding has arrived.

“We have plenty of ideas stirring!” Cervenka said of what to expect from the next videos. “We’d like to get some Steeda parts installed on these vehicles and document the progression along the way — so stay tuned!”

So, as you would expect, this video series will ramp up the performance of this 2020 Shelby GT500. Expect plenty of suspension and chassis upgrades along with a nice dose of power upgrades on this project.

Next up, Steeda compared the two Shelbys on the autocross course. Both fared well, but the GT350R’s brake feel shone through as superior to its more muscular cousin. That was in stock form, however. Now the company is set to modify the GT500 for even more performance.

“As always, you can expect a slew of high-quality parts from Steeda for the GT500, just like other Mustangs and Fords,” Cervenka added. “We’re paying close attention to the GT500 to not only learn the advancements Ford and Ford Performance have made with the GT500, but also to see where we can take things to the next level for that hardcore enthusiast!”

For more on Steeda‘s progress with the latest Shelby GT500, you can follow its blog here and subscribe to its YouTube channel here.

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About the author

Steve Turner

Steve Turner brings decades of passion and knowledge in the world of Ford performance, having covered it for over 20 years. From the swan song of the Fox Mustang to the birth of the Coyote, Steve had a front-row seat.
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