It’s no secret that the new Shelby GT350R is a cool car. Not only is it a hardcore track racing vehicle that can be driven on public roads, it sounds crazy with its flat-plane crank V-8. Add to the list of cool things about the GT350R the fact that it comes with carbon fiber wheels as part of its standard equipment.
Ford claims that the wheels are the first mass-produced from carbon fiber. Sure, carbon fiber wheels aren’t unheard of when it comes to exotic vehicles, but the GT350R isn’t some supercar from Italy or Sweden. After all, it’s a Mustang, a pony car that also happens to be a lethal track weapon.
It took a partnership with Australian company Carbon Revolution to make this amazing feat possible. Ford says that it worked hard to ensure that the strictest of quality standards were met with the new wheels. That involved being able to take some serious abuse and keep ticking. Not all carbon fiber is made equal, which is why the material uses a special resin that’s supposed to be incredibly tough.
The wheels were subjected to some pretty hefty tests to ensure they wouldn’t just shatter, making the car spin out of control. A driver actually slammed the wheels into a curb at speed to see how they’d hold up. Thanks to the wheels being so incredibly lightweight (they weigh just 18 pounds each) the suspension was able to react so fast to the impact that the test driver thought the first time the wheel hadn’t impacted the curb at all. Needless to say, the wheels held up beautifully.
Of course, with a racer heat in the wheel well is a real threat. That’s especially true with the Shelby GT350R, considering that the brakes generate temperatures of about 900 degrees Celsius (or over 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit). That little challenge meant that Ford and Carbon Revolution tweaked the design using a thermal standard that lines up with what’s used for motorsports applications. The solution involves applying the same coating on the wheels as what’s on the engine turbine blades for the Space Shuttle.
This is a revolution not only for Ford, but for performance vehicles around the globe. Expect to see more wheels like these in the near future.