The 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang “Ole Yeller”


The 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang “Ole Yeller”
Report and Photography by Bob Shane

Every industry has its Hall of Fame. The individual members of this elite group, over the course of their professional careers, have demonstrated that they are truly the best of the best. In the Aviation industry, leading that formation of excellence, is Robert “Bob” Hoover. A fighter pilot, test pilot and air show pilot extraordinaire, Hoover did it all. During his flying career, he was involved in numerous milestone projects such as breaking the sound barrier. He is widely considered the founding father of modern aerobatics. A true American hero, Hoover’s fighter aircraft was shot down during the Second World War. He was captured by the Germans and later escaped by stealing a German Messerschmidt and flying it to Holland.

In each of the last eight years, the Ford Motor Company has honored great aviators or an iconic aircraft by producing a one-off high performance Mustang in the personalized markings that either symbolized the aviators and or an iconic aircraft. Starting in 2008, previous Mustangs have been built by Ford to honor the SR-71, the Blue Angels, the Tuskegee Airman, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, F-35 Lightning II and Apollo Spaceflight. In 2016, that aviator was the highly decorated Bob Hoover and the aircraft was his legendary WWII P-51 Mustang fighter “Ole Yeller.” Piloted by Hoover, “Ole Yeller” still holds the prop plane coast-to-coast speed record at 5 hours and 20 minutes, set in 1985. For years, this famous P-51D Mustang was the official pace plane at the Reno National Championship Air Races.

2016 marks the ninth straight year that a unique Shelby GT 350 Mustang was built by the Ford Motor Company, donated and sold at auction to benefit the Experimental Aircraft Association’s (EAA) youth education programs, including the Young Eagles. The car is put on display and auctioned each year at the annual EAA Air Venture Air Show and Fly-in held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

This year’s one-off, collectible edition, redesigned pony car, is the most track ready and street legal factory produced Mustang ever. It is a significant departure from its predecessors. This 2016 Shelby version of the Mustang is the first with independent rear suspension. It is the first to be sold globally with a right hand drive version from the factory. The Ford “Ole Yeller” Mustang’s V-8 is a powerhouse of an engine. At 526 horsepower, 5.2L, 429 lb. – ft. of torque is the most powerful naturally aspirated engine Ford has ever produced. It is mated to a Tremec 6 speed manual transmission. Other features include a tuned sport suspension and upgraded electronics.

The “Ole Yeller” Mustang exterior and interior accents were dsigned by Ford Design Manager Melvin Betancourt. The green “Ole Yeller” script graphic that identified the signature yellow Hoover North American P-51 Mustang is incorporated into the badging of the yellow Ford Mustang. These markings, coupled with aviation inspired Ford gauges, produces a strong aeronautical feeling. The 2016 Ford Shelby GT 350 Mustang, “Ole Yeller,” continues the legend of the Ford Mustang and effectively captures the spirit of an aviation legend and iconic aircraft.

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