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If this was a contest for the best sounding car of the year (or a contest for the longest name), the 2016 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 would be taking home a trophy.

Based on the completely redesigned Mustang that was new for 2015, the Shelby takes everything we love about the pony car and ramps it up to bonkers levels. Adding to its appeal is its starting price of $49,995, including destination, which cements its place as an attainable and very capable sports car. Sure, it is close to the $50,000 cutoff for our Car of the Year nominees, but when you consider what that money gets you, it’s actually one of the biggest sports car bargains right now.

Powered by a hand-built, naturally aspirated, flat-plane-crank 5.2-liter V8, the Shelby lives up to its legendary name with 526 horsepower and 429 pound-feet of torque, and with a redline of 8,250 rpm, it is the highest-revving production V8 in the American automaker’s history. This engine wouldn’t feel out of place in a Ferrari. It’s that good.

But the numbers only tell one side of the story. It sounds fantastic even in regular mode, but when you open up the sport exhaust, it changes everything. Once you hear the Shelby at full blast, everything begins to make sense and it’s the kind of sound you can feel deep down and might possibly mistake for arousal. Hammering the throttle and holding the gear all the way until 8,000 rpm is a life-altering experience and it feels so unnatural and so … naughty … the first time you do it. It quickly becomes addictive, and that feeling you get when you do it never really wears off.

One of the most impressive things about the Shelby is that even though it is a serious sports car with insane amounts of grip and power, the manual-only GT350 is remarkably easy to drive. The clutch is light and progressive, the gear shifts are intuitive and the car is not at all a handful to maneuver around town.

If the Shelby had a downside, it would be that it’s quite heavy, and that the sound is bound to get you a lot of attention from the authorities.

The formidable sports car has already taken the win as‘s 2016 Reader’s Choice Car of the Year, but is it good enough to win our big award for general Car of the Year? Stay tuned. We reveal the winner on Dec. 15.

Read more about the Ford Mustang Shelby GT350: 2016 Car of the Year Nominee at
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