The Ford GT is the sucessor to the Ford GT40 of 1960s LeMans fame. Built slightly larger and significantly more comfortably than the original GT40 MkIII street car to accomodate a wider range of drivers, and definitely intended for street use, the Ford GT joins the Dodge Viper in the incredibly small category of American supercars, along with such elites as vehicles from Vector and Saleen. Introduced in 2003 at the North American International Auto Show, the vehicle is little-changed from the GT40 prototype and remarkably similar to the original GT40. It's probably worth mentioning in the title that while you can build a truly amazing GT40 kit car for about $60,000, a Ford GT will set you back at least $149,995. By comparison, the Viper SRT-10 will "only" cost you $80,995 and is just as much car. Arguably the mid-engined GT may be more capable on the track, an assertion by Ford engineers that only time can (dis)prove.
The GT comes to market with a DOHC 4-valve (per cylinder) 5.4 liter/330 cubic inch) displacement mod V8, cousin to the 4.6 liter V8 commonly found in the Mustang GT of the 2000s. Coupled with an Eaton supercharger, the car develops 550 peak horsepower at 6500 rpm, and 500 ft-lb of torque at 3750 rpm. This is a stunning 125hp more than the 427-equipped GT40 which won LeMans in 1969. Power is applied to the road through a six speed manual transaxle equipped with synchros in all forward gears. What all this boils down to is a 3.6 second 0-60 time, and an 11.78 second quarter mile, crossing the line at a touch over 124mph.
Continuing in the spirit of excellent design, the GT features front and rear inequal-length double wishbone suspension, which is second only to the multilink design. This design increases negative camber on the wheels at the outside of a turn for maximum traction. 18" front and 19" rear wheels are provided by BBS and are available in either cast or forged aluminum. In either case the wheels are clad in Z-rated Goodyear Eagle F1 "Supercar" rubber, with 235/45ZR18 in front and 315/40ZR19 in the rear. Braking is performed by Brembo 4-piston ventilated disc brakes with ABS. Steering is naturally of the power-assisted rack and pinion type.
The car is 182.8 inches (15'2.8") or 388cm long, 44.3 (3'8.3") or 112.5cm tall, and 76.9 in (6'4.9") or 195.3 cm wide. This is eighteen inches longer about four inches taller than the GT40, which was named for the roof height. With a curb weight of 3400lb/1542kg the car is no lightweight (though this is essentially the same weight as the viper) and it has a potentially tail-happy 43/57 front/rear weight distribution, much like your average Porsche, though this is a tendency which should be offset by the wider rubber in the rear. The car is made primarily of aluminum, from the frame to the unloaded bodywork (not to mention the motor, brake calipers, wheels, and other traditionally heavy components.)
Engine air intakes are located at the sides of the car at the back of the doors as is common for mid-engined supercars, giving the vehicle an aggressive look, as does the aerodynamics package which includes w/front spoiler/splitter, side splitters, full underbody cladding to minimize both drag and lift, underbody and rear diffusers which also decrease lift, and a rear lip spoiler. There are grilles in the side intakes (naturally) as well as in the front and rear fascias (or "bumper covers".) The brake calipers can come painted black, red or a gunmetal color, and the vehicle is available with or without racing stripes and "Ford GT" side emblems.
Inside, the Ford GT appears futuristic and clean with aluminum panels, orange-lit analog gauges, and a cast magnesium center console. Leather-wrapped seats with a carbon fiber backbone are provided by Sparco, a surprising choice for a supercar but reasonable in a vehicle billed as being "all-american". The stitching pattern on the seats is (probably deliberately) evocative of the GT40 MkIII. The leather extends to the instrument panel, door trim panels, center console armrest, dash, and many of the other interior panels.
The windows are tinted to minimize heat transfer and powered, as are the mirrors and door locks. There are map lights integrated into the rear view mirror and other creature comforts include a leather wrapped tilt steering wheel on a telescoping column, and a spherical aluminum shift knob.
Seatbelts are the common three-point waist and shoulder type, and the vehicle is equipped with both driver and passenger airbags, as well as ISOFIX child safety seat latches. The vehicle is delivered standard with a remote keyless entry security system. The headlights are the HID arc lamp type for maximum visibility and fog lights are standard.
In general, the GT40 is both a polished luxury ride and an extremely competitive supercar capable of speeds well in excess of the legal limit. It spent just sixteen months in the journey from an idea to a concept car, and made the transition from concept to showroom with only minor changes. Its stiff price tag is nonetheless significantly less than many of the italian cars whose performance it exceeds significantly, though unless you are looking for european styling the Viper is probably a better choice for those looking for power as it makes slightly more of it without forced induction, being equipped with an eight liter V10 powerplant. Nonetheless, the high level of finish and the classic mid-engine style of the Ford GT, along with the strong nostalgia factor given the sharp (and unsurprising) resemblance to the classic LeMans-winning GT40 ensure this Ford its place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts and a secure spot in the history books.
- Ford GT. Ford Motor Company, 2002 (http://www.fordvehicles.com/fordgt/)
- Keebler, Jack and Lassa, Todd, 2004 Dodge Viper vs. 2005 Ford GT. Motor Trend Magazine, January 2004, pp. 51-56