Ford GTX1

Ford GTX1
Ford GTX1

Lust at first sight, love at first drive. That’s the only way that I can describe my experience with the new Ford GT. Last year I drove a thousand miles through France in this breathtaking supercar, and if I had died at the end of the journey, I would have died a happy man, sporting a stupid grin. The Ford development team might as well have packed and gone home, perfection had been achieved.

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The Ford development team did pack up, they didn’t go home, but instead turned their attention to the Shelby GT500, a high performance Mustang. Fortunately for us, one engineer and designer from Ford SVT (Special Vehicle Team), Kip Ewing, had a vision of creating an open-top version of the GT and after getting approval from the SVT director, Hau Thai Tang, the Ford GTX1 was born.

Hacksaw job

Mark Gerisch, of the Genaddi Design Group, was approached to carry out the work involved in taking the hacksaw to this iconic car's roof line. To top it off they also developed a few aftermarket modifications to complete the drop-top look. All together they offer an amazing $140,000’s worth of modifications. The most notable include the roof conversion, lowered suspension, and a power upgrade, but more on that later.

Most post-production roof cutting exercises end up in, at best, a hopeless array of panels lying in the garage at home and require all the mental dexterity of a chess genius to fit them. Not to mention the scuttle shake that results from the lack of torsional rigidity from removing the roof. No so here.

A simple three-panel system with rear catches offers either the T-Bar, twin side pop up panel and, for full posing prowess, the full convertible look. All are interchangeable in seconds and the panels store away conveniently behind the front seats in their own padded bags. Look over your shoulder and you can now see two plexi-glass panels on top of the engine cover which afford a satisfying view of the supercharger. And, thanks to some clever chassis work and the car's inherent strength, there’s absolutely no shake rattle 'n' roll. All up this will set you back a mortgage-extending $38,000.

Seven hundred brake horsepower

Now here’s the juicy bit. This version of the GTX1 was running a whopping 700bhp. That’s in a road-going, mid-engine, rear wheel drive, GT car with absolutely no electronic trickery to keep you from joining the (very fast approaching) scenery, backwards. That’s 40 HP more than a Ferrari Enzo. Lowered, front and rear by 32mm and 25mm, sitting on 19- and 20-inch custom rims, sporting a free-flow, cat back Borla exhaust and a short throw shifter, the GTX1 is surely the new must have LA Boulevard cruiser.

The power increase is achieved using a smaller charger pulley, re-mapped ECU taking into account the increased air intake, fuel flow and modified timings. A modified air corrector and electronic diffuser ensure that the otherwise standard 5.4-litre, aluminium block gets sufficient air and fuel into all 8 cylinders. Engineers estimate that this standard block could potentially run 800bhp but, for reliability and longevity, a 125HP upgrade pack is offered to customers -- it's a snip at $8,500. You’ll also be glad to know that none of this work would, theoretically, invalidate any Ford warranty. Phew, you can relax!

Adrenalin-inducing

On the track the moment you push the start button a surge of adrenalin accompanies the orchestral roar from the pipes behind and you’re reminded that this is no standard GT. The muted, standard exhaust is now more of a burbling gargle with undertones of thunder. It’s hard to suppress the urge to just nail it and gun towards the horizon into oblivion. And it gets to oblivion rather briskly; 60mph is up in 3.3 seconds, usually in a small cloud of expensive smoke while the driver furiously feathers the throttle in search of traction. Triple figures are up in the sevens, soon 150’s up and the acceleration still feels nothing short of time distorting as the cars want to push on to its 210-plus mph top speed. It’s a total sensory overload; every sense being in a constant state of catch-up.

Turn in and the steering feels sharper than standard, but never twitchy. Exit a corner at speed and you feel buckets-loads of mechanical grip as the Pirelli P-Zero rubber earns its keep. Feed the power in gently the handling feels surprisingly fluid for a relatively heavy GT car. Entering a corner too fast and turning in too late will result in the front end pushing wide, but you can correct easily by easing off the gas or by planting the throttle and applying a lot of opposite lock -- quickly. Overcook it though and you’ll be spinning in a grey haze of tyre smoke, much as the standard GT.

The best trick is that this über-GT is just as easy to drive as the factory GT. A light clutch, power steering and good seat support makes it all about as straightforward to drive as a VW Golf, albeit with very restricted forward vision…and considerably more power.

Outdragging an Enzo

So, the perfect everyday supercar just got better. It can out drag an Enzo in a straight line, and let you pose with the top down while still being a daily driver, and all for around £120,000 all-up.

And that, in supercar terms, is the bargain of the century. Where do I sign?

Words and pictures (c) Rod Fountain 2006

Comments (24) Join the discussion on the forum

  • ThatPhilBrettGuy 21 Jul 2008

    Slash1 said:
    The Ferrari 355 Berlinetta used to be my favourite car - it's now been replaced by the GTX-1....well done Ford!
    But Ford had nothing to do with it. They were done by getting customers cars and chopping them in clever ways to make GTX's. All done by Genaddi Design who went bust a few months ago. It was about £40k to have the conversion.

    As for the extra power it was just a pulley change on the supercharger, remap and a new exhaust. A fair number of GT owners have done that anyway....

  • Slash1 21 Jul 2008

    The Clarkson DVD entitled "The Good, The bad, The Ugly", is where JC goes to America in search of a good sports car, he tries out the ZO6, Dodge SRT-10, Roush Mustang, Shelby Mustang and so on, on a race track called Willow Springs.

    Then, right at the end he pulls out the Ford GT and describes it as "utterly utterly brilliant", then he introduces us to the Ford GTX-1, my god, if you think it looks good in the pictures just wait till you see it being thrashed around a track on your tv - it is stunning!

    I have a 5.1 cinema surround system and the noise the GTX-1 makes is absolutely incredible - just as good as that from the Zonda F!!

    The Ferrari 355 Berlinetta used to be my favourite car - it's now been replaced by the GTX-1....well done Ford!

  • misterV10 12 Jan 2008

    I love this car!






    If only they'd put this engine into the hardtop!




    This is definitely one of my favourite cars!!!

  • lifethroughalens 30 Sep 2006

    dinkel said:
    Errr, wow and wow. I thought this one stayed into proto-stage . . . happy to see it's not.

    Love yer pics. Wonder what this beastie'll do on track side to side with a big bad red Enzo.

    I'm a bit worried 'bout the Golf bit thoug . . . Only joking now are ya?


    Hi Dinkel, glad the pics went down well (it was my article and snaps)...indeed the Golf comment is relative, if your tall the GT's a bitch to see out of and rear 3/4 visibility is bad. But for everyday driving it's really easy once you get used to the width and the cut away doors. (which make you look real stupid on a ferry where they pack the cars in close together and you can't get out!) I have Drag raced the GT against an Enzo on the track, in 8 1/4 miles runs the standard GT and the Enzo (in race mode, using launch) were more or less identical up to around 130 when the Enzo begins to creep up. It all depends on the start, the GT, if you get an ideal start will completely out drag the Enzo to 100mph due to the enormous torque advantage whereas the extra BHP on helps the Enzo catch up through the gears at the top end. Of course the momment you get to a corner the GT's hangin' it's arse out show-boating whilst the Enzo's left you for dust! The extra HP in the GTX1 is definately a perfect upgrade especially along with the upgraded handling package. I know the Enzo's an amazing engineering achievement and excellent to drive, but given the choice i'd rather take the GT for the weekend as it stirs the soul, the loins and the bowls (on occassions!) all at the same time. An even though it's a collection of parts from many different countries, it is, and always will be a purely American car.

  • dinkel 27 Sep 2006

    Utter bull, all that power wouldn't make it a driveable car.

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