If there’s a man on the moon, or life on Mars, they also know Joe Charles recently received his 2016 Shelby GT350. It’s everywhere on social media, and frankly, we’re surprised Joe hasn’t been on top of Stone Mountain shouting about how happy he is to have the car.
As is Joe’s custom with any of his cars, the first thing he did was get the GT350 up on a lift and detail it to the max. If Mike Murillo thinks waxing the underside of a vehicle is worth two-tenths, Joe is able to get three-tenths because he goes to such extremes.
During the detailing process, the wheels came off, along with the front brakes. It was at this time that Joe discovered something that really has our wheels turning. Joe discovered the front hubs of his new GT350 are splined, like what you would find in an AWD car, or 4WD truck. In talking to fellow GT350 enthusiast Jeff Foster (Who is still awaiting delivery of his GT350R), both surmised the splined hub has to mean something. It must be there for some reason. If we have learned anything about Ford, it’s that nothing is ever accidentally on a car. Every piece is there for a reason. So then, why would the GT350 have splined front hubs?
Well, let’s look back. In 2005, the Ford GT Supercar hit showrooms with a 5.4L supercharged Four-Valve engine with a 6-speed transaxle. When the Shelby GT500 debuted in 2007, what engine did it have under the hood? You guessed it, basically the same 5.4L engine as the Ford GT, albeit with a few changes. Just like every manufacturer, Ford has a trickle down way of using parts and pieces from cars up the ladder on vehicles not as prominent.
Okay, back to the splined hub. Joe asked one of his contacts within Ford Motor Company about the splined hub, and got an answer pointing at a part from an Explorer, or something. Well, to get a more clear answer, Joe called up his buddy Paul Dishroon to look up the part number for the hub. Turns out, the hub is unique to the new Mustang. StangTV Editor Don Creason checked the parts on www.fordparts.com, and the hubs are listed differently between the GT and Shelby Mustangs. In fact the hubs are listed as Mustang GT, or Shelby, not listed as GT350. We also verified our EcoBoost project car uses a more traditional rear wheel drive hub, with the hub and bearing riding on the knuckle, rather than this version. Why not use the same hub on the GT and the Shelby? Unless there’s a reason.
That fact got Joe to thinking, why would Ford put a splined hub on the new Mustang? Thinking back on the fact that Ford doesn’t accidentally put something on a car, could the new Shelby GT500 be an AWD 3.5L EcoBoost combination? Could the splined hub be a hint on where the car is headed? Jeff has actually thought the next GT500 would be AWD for a while now. Remember, the newest Ford GT’s 3.5L EcoBoost engine makes over 600 horsepower. The engine uses twin-turbochargers, and in racing form, over 800 horsepower is well within the realm of possibility.
We’ve been seeing rumors for a while that the next GT500 would feature an EcoBoost V6. While we’ve largely discounted those rumors since we’ve seen no evidence, this new parts revelation seems to reinforce such a notion.
The only time in our experience we’ve seen a splined hub on the front end of a rear wheel drive vehicle has been when a manufacturer offers a four wheel drive or all wheel drive option, but only wants to use a single part for both applications. In those instances doing so reduces manufacturing and supply complexities. But why would you do that on a Mustang, unless you have a reason.
Further, we can see no additional performance advantage going to a bolt-on hub of this type would offer over the spindle mounted style hub and bearing that has been used on the Mustang since 1994, and is still in use on the V6, EcoBoost and GT in the S550 chassis.
Since the 2013-’14 GT500 made 662 horsepower at the crank, and with the Dodge Challenger Hellcat rated at 707 horsepower, the new GT500 must have at least 700 horsepower, with the capability of much more. The new EcoBoost 3.5 slated for the GT and Raptor is definitely capable of making that number, and it is much lighter than an equally-appointed V8 engine. The lighter weight of an EcoBoost V6 could also offset the added weight of an AWD system.
Could Ford be going after the Nissan GT-R? Will the next Shelby GT500 be an EcoBoost 3.5L AWD machine? Well, we don’t know for sure, but if splines could talk, they’d say we might be onto something. Either that, or Ford is messing with us.
Only time will tell.