Ford freezes Shelby GT350 to show the pony is practical

Expectations of practicality for a 500HP+ muscle car may not be everyone's first concern, but Ford isn't taking any chances when it comes to where and when Shelby GT350 Mustang owners can drive. Over at the company's Drivability Test Facility – a veritable automotive torture chamber, where a huge range of potential driving conditions can be replicated so as to see how cars like the potent Mustang variant cope with them – the Ford engineers have been dropping temperatures to see how the GT350 handles the cold weather some owners will inflict on it, and it's about more than just switching to Snow mode on the traction control.

In fact, according to project and facility engineer John Toth, keeping sufficient power going from engine to road is only one aspect of a car's ice and snow resilience, albeit the best known.

"People don't think about it, but as you're driving down the road ... your air filters can clog up with snow and your vehicle can actually quite running," Toth explains. That's something Ford's testing system can replicate under more controlled conditions, however, with a potential working temperature range spanning -40 degrees Fahrenheit through to 131 degrees.

"We're looking at build-up on the vehicle itself: do the lights ice over, does [the] shifter linkage freeze up," Toth says.

The Drivability Test Facility can also control factors like humidity, wind speeds, and the effect of the sun on vehicles, in addition to simulating different road-loading conditions. So, just how the Shelby GT350 might handle driving up a freezing cold mountain path can be demonstrated, without having to actually go find such a mountain.

It seems the new Shelby sportscar handles Ford's testing, though we're still waiting to see exactly how much drivers will have to pay for the privilege. Leaks earlier this month suggested the Mustang would be around $53k, with another – even more powerful – version tipped to be waiting in the wings for 2015 too.

If you're biting, you should probably also budget a few bucks for a bag of cat litter, Toth recommends. That can be used for an impromptu traction add, should you find your potent pony car scrabbling to find its feet.

VIA CarBuzz