The carbon fiber wheels on the forthcoming Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang save a huge amount of weight over standard wheels, but that doesn’t mean they’re any less durable. Ford says that it is working with Australian supplier Carbon Revolution to ensure the wheels can stand up to real-world use.
The Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang is only the second production car to offer carbon fiber wheels, following ultra-exotic offerings from Koenigsegg. Each wheel weighs just 18 lb, compared to 33 lb for the car’s standard aluminum wheels. By cutting the wheel mass, Ford can reduce the GT350R’s unsprung weight, improving its acceleration, braking, and handling.
To make sure the Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang’s carbon fiber wheels won’t shatter when used on rough roads, Ford subjected test wheels to repeated “curb strike” tests. Ford claims the wheels withstood the tests so well that a test driver repeated the test because he didn’t think he’d hit the curb properly the first time.
Given that the GT350R will endure serious track use with heavy braking, the carbon fiber wheels also were tested to be able to withstand 1,652ºF of, using a special thermal coating designed for aerospace applications. The coating helps shield the wheels from extreme heat, so Ford claims the carbon fiber wheels can withstand repeated hard track use.
To check that each Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang wheel was correctly made, Ford and Carbon Revolution went to even greater lengths. Each wheel is embedded with an RFID chip so its progress through the assembly process can be tracked. After the wheel has been produced, a 3D CT scan using 18,000 individual x-ray images helps ensure that there are no defects in the wheel. If it passes the test, the wheel is shipped off to Flat Rock, Michigan, for installation on a Ford Shelby GT350R Mustang.
The track-oriented GT350R packs a 5.2-liter flat-plane V-8 engine, a six-speed manual transmission, a crazy carbon-fiber rear wing, and an upgraded suspension. Stayed tuned for official horsepower and pricing details on the wild car.