Mustang Shelby GT350 Owners Taking Ford To Court

Muscle Cars / 12 Comments

But the fight isn't over yet for this new lawsuit.

The Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 has been retired but its legacy lives on. Powered by the incredible 5.2-liter Voodoo V8 that churns out 526 horsepower and 429 lb-ft of torque, the GT350 was the go-to choice for track enthusiasts. The Mach 1 is its most direct successor, as opposed to the Shelby GT500. For the most part, GT350 owners are very satisfied with their purchases, but a group with early-build 2016 examples are not.

In 2017, these owners joined forces and filed a lawsuit alleging the muscle car, when equipped with the Base or Technology packages, was experiencing overheating transmissions and differential coolers. When this happened, the vehicles automatically reverted into the "limp mode," meaning power and performance dramatically decreased in order to prevent damage because of high engine temperatures.

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By 2017 the GT350 came standard with the Track Package and the coolers, which were previously optional. The lawsuit states Ford removed the coolers from the lower two trims in order to save money, but still advertised the GT350 as being "track-ready" when, apparently, not all of them were.

A few owners say they specifically bought their cars for track use but haven't been able to properly use them for that purpose because limp mode automatically turns on in sometimes as little as 15 minutes of consistent track driving. Ford says entering limp mode is purely a safety feature rather than a defect or malfunction and therefore is not covered under warranty. A federal judge disagrees.

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"Through product placement in James Bond movies and racing partnerships with figures like Carroll Shelby, Ford has spent half a century cultivating an aura of performance and adventure," said Judge Federico A. Moreno. "But these Plaintiffs allege, to Lee Iacocca's chagrin, that their cars are more like Pintos than Mustangs." This means the complaints made in 2017 have sufficient merit to proceed forward as a class-action lawsuit in several states. It does, however, depend on the state whether the suit can be presented as fraud or breach of warranty.

The plaintiffs are represented by Hagens Berman, the same law firm that achieved a $1.6 billion settlement with Toyota over the unintended acceleration fiasco. They also scored a $350 million victory over GM regarding the faulty ignition switches. It's probably best for Ford to settle with the owners.

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