Behind the Scenes with the Ford GT
Ford opens up the GT's secret lair.
DEARBORN, Michigan - Do the technologies and design from halo cars like the next Ford GT, set for production in late 2016, affect lesser models in the brand's lineup? Ford officials spoke about how the $400,000 supercar can share technologies with quotidian models, while revealing the previously hidden studio where designers and engineers worked on the concept car before its debut at January's Detroit auto show.
While some technologies will transfer to showrooms, there will be no carbon fiber Fusion or Escape, for instance, and the GT's 600-hp, 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 engine differs from the versions in mainstream vehicles like the Ford Expedition by way of unique turbos, camshafts, pistons, and connecting rods, says Steve Russ, Ford's technical leader for internal combustion engines.
Engineers and designers worked on the Ford GT concept with part- and full-scale clay models from a new "secret location" in the bowels of Ford's Product Development Center. Design vice president Moray Callum showed off a third full-size model of the new Ford GT (in addition to the blue and silver models unveiled at various auto shows) painted deep red with white stripes. Unfortunately, Ford did not allow photography of this new variant.
Using advanced materials was critical to the design of the Ford GT, officials say. Carbon fiber allowed designers to "shrink-wrap" the "fuselage" part of the Ford GT's rear body enveloping the highly tuned and compact 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6, says Ford of the Americas exterior design director Craig Metros. Carbon fiber, "let us decide to divorce the fuselage from the rear fenders," he says.
Ford engineers and designers also shared more details on the supercar's interior. Its two seats, placed close together with a narrow center console separating them, have no bottom cushion adjustment because of crash-test standards. If the seats had been designed with controls to move fore and aft, the steeply raked windshield would need to be more upright for the car to meet safety tests, said global interior design director Amko Leenarts. The steering wheel both tilts and telescopes, the seatback reclines with about 10 degrees variance, and the pedals are adjustable.
There's a small cubby at the leading edge of the center console large enough for an Apple iPhone 6, though not a 6 Plus. The scissor doors have frameless windows, with no door intrusion into the roof allowing for easier ingress/egress, and the rocker panels are built into the doors for side-impact protection and to make stepping in and out of the car a bit easier. Overall, the interior, with its squared-off steering wheel, appears clean and modern, and much more supercar than homologated racecar. Ford still refuses to say anything about an official racing program for the car.
The seats' headrests are designed to be helmet-friendly, however, and 6-foot 2-inch tall Jamal Hameedi, Ford Performance's chief engineer, says he fits nicely into the tight cockpit. He emphasizes that anything in or on the car that looks like carbon fiber really is carbon fiber.
"As a rule of thumb, cosmetic carbon fiber was banned on this car," Hameedi says.
Ford also boasted of the GT's high-tech design, with more than 10-million lines of computer code, and Formula 1-style computer simulated testing that helped engineers tune the four suspension modes - normal, sport, track and wet.