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Ford keeping its hottest Mustang in production

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 4/16/2017 Mark Phelan

Look what the Easter Bunny brought for Mustang performance fans.

For National Mustang Day, which is Monday, Ford Motor it will celebrate by keeping the 526-horsepower Shelby GT350 and GT350R in production through the 2018 model year.

The cars feature Ford’s extraordinary flat-plane crank 5.2 liter V-8, an exotic engine that became the most powerful normally aspirated engine in Ford history when it roared to life in 2015.

The good news comes as Dodge raised the Muscle Car wars to an unprecedented level by announcing the 840-horsepower supercharged Hemi-powered Challenger SRT Demon coupe.

This is the Golden Age of American performance cars. In addition to the GT350 and Demon, Chevrolet offers the 650-hp supercharged Camaro ZL.

It’s widely expected that Ford has a Shelby GT500 in the works to up the ante in the Detroit Three poker game. There’s also no official word on when it will arrive, what engine it will use, or how much power it will produce, but the rumor mill scoffs at anything lower than 700 horsepower.

The GT350s are unchanged for the new model year, except for three new exterior colors: Kona Blue, Orange Fury and Lead Foot Grey. The car set a new standard for Mustang handling, thanks to its excellent chassis and features like six-piston Brembo front brakes and a Magnetic Ride adaptive suspension.

Prices for the 2017 GT350 start at $54,845.

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