Automobile

2018 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350

Just before the onset of what turned out to be a seemingly interminable Michigan winter, the unavailability of an OE-size winter tire for the Mustang Shelby GT350 led us to decide on a California vacation for our long-term steed. While on its winter retreat, capabilities that can go untapped in the Midwest became apparent on the Golden State’s more exciting roads. The scalpel-sharp steering and marvelous chassis dynamics dissect canyon two-lanes with surgical precision. Track-specialist cars such as this are often painful to live with on a daily basis, but the light-effort clutch eases left-leg strain in L.A.’s never-ending stop-and-go traffic. The roads are smoother out there, too, with bumps largely limited to jagged concrete joints; even so, the magnetorheological dampers smooth them out like an industrial grinding machine. The 2400-mile excursion across the plains and through the mountains to reach California certainly helped improve our observed fuel consumption, which is now up to a modest 18 mpg. That isn’t terrible for a car like this, but its 16-gallon fuel tank became an annoyance, requiring frequent visits to the pump. Not once has a driver surpassed the 300-mile mark on a full tank of premium. We’ll see if that mark can be reached on its return trek to Michigan.

Since our last update, the 5.2-liter Voodoo V-8 has developed a thirst for 5W-50 synthetic oil. Over the past 11,800 miles, the high-revving engine has consumed 8.5 quarts. There are no leaks, so we can only assume that it’s exiting the quad tailpipes. If this were the ’80s, this might be acceptable, but it’s 2018 and oil depletion has become a rarity. Ford has released a supplement to the owner’s manual regarding oil consumption, stating that the engine could drink up to one quart every 500 miles under “extended time at high engine speeds, high loads, engine braking, hard cornering maneuvers, and track use.” Our car, however—excepting the odd mountain run and back-road blast, of course—has spent most of its life on freeways.

Also, while much of the cornering awesomeness is enhanced by the meaty Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber, the rear tread reached the wear indicators at just over 20,000 miles; it was $580 for a new pair. Some 3000 miles later, the right-front tire had worn itself to the cords, at which point we spent another $668 for a pair of front tires and to address an alignment issue that was to blame for the aggressive wear of that one corner. With everything now properly aligned, some of the tramlining spookiness we previously noted has gone away.

Despite the steady flow of fresh oil entering the valve cover, oil and filter changes are still required. Before the Mustang embarked on the cross-country tour, we stopped in for an oil change and inspections, dishing out $177. Roughly 9000 miles later, the oil-life monitor indicated it was time for another pit stop, which cost $161.

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