Ford GT

Ford built the original GT40 to win Le Mans and to spite Enzo Ferrari.  Ford was a long way into the process of buying Ferrari when Enzo Ferrari pulled out and the top men at Ford were none to happy about it. 

Now the new $150,000 Ford GT retro supercar aims to take on the Ferrari Enzo. At least that’s what the man from Ford told me. With a 360 like  price (although expect it to cost £140,000 here) the Ford value proposition is that it will be as fast as an Enzo. This means a top speed of around 200mph (although not necessarily over 200mph) and a 0-60 time of 3.8 seconds. Aerodynamics have moved on a lot in the last forty years as is evidenced by a huge diffuser, aerodynamic treatment around the wing mirrors and a tiny Gurney flap.

What the new car does brilliantly is evoke the spirit of the car which stormed Le Mans in 1966. It is however quite a bit bigger - about 18 inches - and now has rear bumpers, albeit cleverly designed.

The original GT40 was built under Ford’s direction by Lola and a similar approach has been adopted for the new model. The GT is produced similarly with Saleen – the US supercar manufacturer.

The interior is more Audi TT than anything else with fantastic attention to detail and wonderfully tactile switches. The car is aimed at Fat Cats so the seating is more accomodating than those in a true race car. Unfortunately a detail in the seats which was not carried over the decades was the GT40’s eyelet vents in the seats. Ford found metal got too hot and plastic wouldn’t hold the colour so instead they are echoed in the design.

Another major change the Fat Cat customers have influenced is the lack of sills. Racing drivers might be lithe enough to jump in and out of a tub, but it’s not something you want to do pulling up outside a swish restaurant. The Ford GT has low sills, with the rigidity of the aluminium spaceframe borne Lotus-like down the centre. This is used as part of the interior design. Similarly the aluminium decoration on the door forms part of the structural rigidity. The classic doors cut into the roof and provide something for you to bang your head against when you get out. It’s not a mistake you make twice. Lugs in the roof of the car locate the top of the door and keep it true at speed.

The development budget didn’t stretch to both a paddle and a standard gearshift, and so in keeping with the retro nature the traditional solution won out. It’s the aspect of the car which is undergoing the most stringent development at the moment.

Ford is looking to sell very many more Ford GTs than Ferrari does 360s, the target for the first model year is 2200 cars with a final run of 4500 cars. Even then it’s not a particularly profitable operation, it’s being run for halo effect rather than sheer profit.

It's something which may irk another member of the Ford family which has to sell DB9s at a profit...

The car I looked at was at the US Grand Prix for a photo shoot with Ralph Firman. Unfortunately the back of the pits was the nearest it came to a track, and in a atmosphere of Formula 1 V10s and the amazingly rorty safety cars the Ford GT sounded a little too civilized. It doesn’t quite pull of the Enzo basher either, but at a third of the price that’s not surprising. Nor does the marketing man’s claim that the Enzo is it’s target sound particularly credible, however with so many reviewers and potential customers telling him it’s so much better than a 360 you can understand why hyperbole got the better of him.

Comments (34) Join the discussion on the forum

  • jam1et 12 Feb 2004

    'Retro' is where you incorporate a few bits of an iconic design into a modern one, usually as part of a branding exercise. The GT isnt retro, its a blatant re-release of the entire same idea!

    I just dont see the point. Apparently it isnt going to make Ford any money, they're doing it to prove they can still make supercars. But they havent really done any such thing. What they have proved is that they can take an old (allbeit beautiful and successful) design and re-introduce it - well we know the idea worked the first time around, so why do it again? To me it just looks like they havent got any original ideas. Look at all the recent motor shows, there are so many great concept ideas out there, manufacturers should be looking for future design classics not resting on their 40 year old laurels.

    Having said that, I'd probably still have one if I had a 100k lying around

  • geeDub 11 Feb 2004

    I'm really not sure why there is so much negative criticism about the new GT. A company finally comes out with a true "retro" at an affordable price....with all the "new car" guarantees backing it from a HUGE corporation.....and we still have to hear precocious drivel about how it's just "not cool enough", etc. Have you guys forgotten Dodges attempts at being so-called "retro"....I mean look at that Prowler....OMG.....what an ugly, over-inflated thing. Not to mention that cheap sans headroom little sawed off PT Cruiser. Ha!

    Then there are those new Chevs.......wha the heck? Totally misses the point.

    Oh....yeah....I can't wait to see either the GT or the new Cobra take on the Vipers and Vettes when they're all dressed out for road racing. hehe.......

    No.....Ford is and will always remain a cut above in both design, class, strength and more bang for the buck. Way to go FORD!!

    >> Edited by geeDub on Wednesday 11th February 16:53

  • tony_996hasgone 08 Dec 2003

    jason360hasgone said:

    IIRC the closing date for the app. list was only yesterday.

    but I'm sure you didn't wait until yesterday!

    jason360hasgone said:

    Also as far as I am aware there are only 101 cars earmarked for Europe(UK/Germany/Switz)!!
    And as per simonrockmans correction the car will be circa £100k and not £140k which would make it too expensive vs Stradale/Gallardo/Ruf etc.

    You seem to have been doing your research on the subject?!?

    jason360hasgone said:

    Can't wait to see them on the road!
    ... or at Brunters or on the way to LeMans

  • jason360hasgone 08 Dec 2003

    Bennno said:
    i hope so, as i am on the list....

    Are u a celeb or something? Or do u mean the application list? IIRC the closing date for the app. list was only yesterday. Unless your name is Clarkson all applicants have to go thru this process to have a chance of getting a GT
    Also I far as I am aware there are only 101 cars earmarked for Europe(UK/Germany/Switz)!!
    And as per simonrockmans correction the car will be circa £100k and not £140k which would make it too expensive vs Stradale/Gallardo/Ruf etc.
    For my part I think the car is fabulous... as Clarkson says, Its handles like an Elise, shocks like a Lambo and blows Ferrari "into the middle of next week"
    Can't wait to see them on the road!

  • ridds 07 Dec 2003

    £140K and it still has Focus Indicator stalks.

    When will manufacturers learn....

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