All-New Ford GT Supercar Debuts in Detroit
Another mid-engine Ferrari fighter from Ford.
It's hard to believe that we're staring at an all-new, 600-plus-hp Ford GT. Not only because we thought a new Guns N' Roses album would come out before we'd see a second coming of the GT, but also because we never thought a Ford GT could look so swoopy, so exotic, and so sexy without losing its signature, "See what America can do, Ferrari?" vibe.
Got carbon fiber?
"If you could use innovation to build the ultimate Ford Performance vehicle, what would it be?" asks Ford CEO Mark Fields. The all-new Ford GT, which Fields says goes into production next year, is more exotic than we could've expected, but the styling isn't so out-there Italian that the GT isn't recognizable as America's supercar sweetheart.
The carbon-fiber tub mates with aluminum front and rear subframes, all wrapped in carbon-fiber body panels. From straight on, the car has a bit of a flower petal shape, with a narrow nose that blossoms out at the wide windshield and roof before slimming back down at the engine cover. The Ford GT is über wide and über low, its roofline sitting about four feet off the pavement. It has active aerodynamics and deep gouges in its sides that help funnel air, à la Ferrari F12berlinetta. Massive air vents feed the front-mounted radiators, and the dual center-exit exhaust looks fantastic between the rear LED circle taillights.
The GT's mid-mounted, 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6 engine, which produces more than 600 hp, will feature both port and direct fuel injection to improve throttle response. A seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle is mounted in the rear of the car. The chassis features active torsion bar and pushrod suspension and 20-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Sport Cup 2 tires that were designed specifically for the GT. All four corners are fitted with Brembo carbon-ceramic brakes, with 6-piston brake calipers up front and 4-piston calipers in the rear.
There's no way we're getting into the car today, but we can see a switch for Lamborghini-style scissor doors. Air vents are integrated directly into the door panels, and everything is trimmed in carbon fiber and perforated white leather. A completely digital instrument cluster sits behind a steering wheel with big, thick, aluminum shift paddles. We're told that you can't move the car's seats but that drivers can adjust both the steering wheel and pedals to get comfortable in the two-door supercar.
It's a gorgeous supercar that looks as ready for the road and the road course. Rumors are that two GTs will be run by Chip Ganassi in the 2016 Tudor United SportsCar Championship and also enter the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and that Multimatic Motorsports, a Canadian company with which Ford has been friendly for about two decades, will assemble the racing car, although Ford did not confirm these details during its press conference.
The Ford GT's announcement comes on the heels of the automaker's decision to move Ford's SVT, RS, and Ford Racing divisions under the newly formed Ford Performance umbrella. The GT will no doubt be a halo for the Blue Oval and an impressive piece of Ford Performance's lineup, which will hop up about a dozen of Ford's vehicles in the next five years.
We can't wait to see how this all-new Ford GT builds on the supercar's storied history, on both the street and the racetrack. By the look of it, the all-new GT is another fantastic middle finger to Ferrari -- just as the GT40 did way back in the 1960s.
The original Ford GT40
Built almost purely out of spite, the original Ford GT40 would not have existed had "Ferrari-Ford" come to fruition. Ford almost purchased Ferrari in 1963. The deal had almost been made when Enzo Ferrari started taking his cards off of the table one at the time until he'd left the negotiations completely, reportedly saying, "My rights, my integrity, my very being as a manufacturer, as an entrepreneur, as the leader of the Ferrari works, cannot work under the enormous machines, the suffocating bureaucracy of the Ford Motor Company." Tough words from a 65-year-old. Ferrari reached back out to Ford a few months later, wondering if negotiations could continue, but by then a burned Ford had already started development on its own Ferrari fighter.
Ford established a special vehicles department, and then went to Eric Broadley, builder of the Lola GT, for a racing chassis. Development of the GT40 ("40" since the car was 40 inches high) started and, about a year later, the racing car made its competitive debut at the Nürburgring with drivers Bruce McLaren and Phil Hill at the wheel. A couple of years later, GT40s finished first, second, and third at the 1966 24 Hours of LeMans. (A good middle finger to Mr. Ferrari, don't you think?) A GT40 MkII and a GT40 MkIV were developed for subsequent racing seasons, and Ford developed a "softer" MkIII, a barely street legal supercar basically devoid of creature comforts.
The first Ford GT
A livable, everyday GT became a reality in 2002 when Ford debuted a concept version of its mid-engine supercar at the Detroit auto show to rave response. Ford's SVT (Special Vehicles Team) started building production-spec cars for the 2005 model year, fitted with the largest V-8 Ford made at the time, a 550-hp, supercharged 5.4-liter mounted behind the driver. A dry-sump oiling system meant no bottom-mounted engine oil pan, which allowed the V-8 to sit nice and low in the car's rear end. The GT had a fantastic overall shape but horrible sightlines, yet we could easily sit behind the wheel for ten to twelve hours at a time and climb out of the driver's seat still feeling somewhat glued together, not broken by hard, jabbing suspension.
A neutral-handling road car with meaty-but-tractable power, the second coming of the Ford GT showed us the kind of fully fledged, street-prepped supercar Ford could build. Better yet, it could be had for about half the price of its nearest competitor. Sadly, the GT disappeared after 2006. Ford built the GT to build company morale, something Ford's workers could rally behind and be proud of even though the rest of the automaker's product portfolio needed work. This all-new GT, though, is more a crowning jewel for the automaker, a reward for now having a solid foundation of commodity cars to build on top of.