Carbon Fiber Wheels Are the 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang's Party Piece

In the automotive realm, carbon fiber this and carbon fiber that represents one of those recurring subjects that make boy racers wet their underpants with excitement. Truth be told, most non-super cars come with fake carbon fiber in the cabin or a carbon fiber boot lid spoiler. In the 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang’s case, the wheels are carbon fiber, and they’re not just for boasting credentials.
Carbon fiber wheels of 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang 4 photos
Photo: Ford
Carbon fiber wheels of 2016 Shelby GT350R MustangCarbon fiber wheels of 2016 Shelby GT350R MustangCarbon fiber wheels of 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang
The 5.2-liter flat-plane crank V8-powered super Mustang is not the kind of model you’ll find available to rent at the nearest Hertz rent-a-car. It’s an American unicorn with extraordinary performance credentials and carbon fiber wheels offered as standard equipment. Measuring 19x11 inches at the front and 19x11.5 inches at the rear, these babies reduce unsprung weight and improve durability.

Remember the original Space Shuttle’s ceramic coated turbine blades? Well, prepare to get really blown away - the front wheels of the Shelby GT350R are treated with ceramic coatings applied with a plasma arc gun that liquefies ceramic material. The aerospace-inspired coating is applied around the inner wheel barrel and back of the spokes as a thermal barrier against the heat generated by the high-performance brakes.

FoMoCo and the experts from Carbon Revolution explain that the carbon fiber used for the GT350R’s wheels isn’t brittle. Most formulations have this characteristic, but the carbon fiber used for the super Mustang’s wheels is so durable that it got through the “strike-a-curb-at-speed” testing procedure with flying colors. The responsiveness of the MagneRide dampers and low unsprung weight of the wheels also helped with minimizing the impact, the reason why “the driver wasn’t sure the test had been carried out correctly and ran it twice to be sure.” That's the kind of madness we like.

As an added bonus, the 2016 Shelby GT350R Mustang’s carbon fiber wheels use a formulation that’s resistant to corrosive salts, road chemicals, and UV light. Considering that each wheel weighs 18 pounds (8.1 kg) versus the 33 pounds (15 kg) of the equivalent aluminum wheel, the GT350R’s shoes are hugely impressive. “The GT350R wheels and tires were developed to be the most track-capable parts we’ve ever produced,” declared Adam Wirth, chassis supervisor at Ford Performance. Now who can’t argue with that?
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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