Ford has introduced a revolutionary new wheel design for the Shelby GT350R Mustang, using technology derived from the NASA Space Shuttle.
The angriest street-legal Mustang variant yet comes complete with a full set of high-performance carbon fibre wheels, made using the same process used to make the Shuttle’s engine turbines.
Developed by Ford alongside Australian carbon fibre engineers Carbon Revolution, the new wheels have been created specifically to cope with the high temperatures generated by the GT350R’s brakes.
Made from the same stuff as the Space Shuttle’s engines!
Using a plasma arc gun to liquefy ceramic material, the wheels are coated at critical points with the aerospace-grade material to shield them from the sorts of temperatures generated only by rocket engines.
Ford says that the coating keeps all the benefits of lightweight carbon fibre without restricting performance at high speeds, and also helps resist harsh chemicals picked up from the road.
The process also results in a perfectly smooth surface, which is polished to a high-gloss black sheen by Ford’s technicians to not only look good, but to ensure a long lifespan for the wheels.
First and only mass-produced car with carbon fibre wheels
Currently, the only other marque offering carbon fibre wheels is Swedish hypercar mentalists Koenigsegg, making the GT350R the first and only mass-produced car to come fitted with them as standard.
Clocking in at nearly half the weight of their aluminium equivalents, the NASA-derived wheels weigh only 8kg, compared to the 15kg aluminium alloy wheels that come with the standard Ford Mustang.
Resultantly, the engineers claim that the GT350R sees serious benefits in handling and acceleration, while the wheels also provide an incredible reduction in rotational inertia of more than 40 per cent.
In fact, they’re so light that the suspension springs and dampers had to be specifically recalibrated by Ford in order to cope with the new wheels and to ensure the car can respond to the road faster.
Half the weight, 40 per cent more responsive
Despite the fact that they’re currently exclusive only to the Shelby GT350R, which isn’t due to be released in the UK, Ford hasn’t ruled out the possibility of introducing the NASA-derived wheels to other cars.
“We believe this is a game changer for the industry,” said Adam Wirth, Ford Performance chassis supervisor, “a great example of improved performance through innovation.”
In the meantime, the new Ford Mustang, which will be available in the UK for the first time in its 50-year history, is available to order now, with prices starting from £28,995.