It’s with lots of anticipation that I visited my friends at Auto-Design to see a Ford GT for the first time. As they started to uncover the car I quickly realized that the car before me was no ordinary Ford GT. They had not mentioned what color or year the GT was on our phone conversation. As unordinary and rare as a Ford GT can be, I had one of the rarer Heritage GT’s in front of me. Only 343 were manufactured and I was standing in front of one of them. The cars color radiated its racing history as I walked around realizing what I had before me. It was Ford’s relentless development for a performance exotic to celebrate its 100 years that lead to the Ford GT being born in the footsteps of its bigger brother, the legendary GT40. Ford realized it needed to make a statement, so in 2003 they revealed the GT to the world. Performance wise, it rivaled its German and Italian brothers and surpassed most of them. The figures were staggering, and the looks were jaw dropping. Ford had successfully built a high performance supercar.
The whole story of the modern GT started in 2002 when Ford unveiled a modern GT40 concept to the public. With positive reactions from the press and the public, development started under code name “Petunia” to build a production car. Workforce 1 made its way from the drawing board to a working prototype in record time. It is said that employees were so involved in the creation of the GT that they would take panels home to sand and paint them.
In 2003, the final GT production car was revealed and orders started flowing in. By the next year, a production run of four thousand five hundred production cars was planned. Clients started taking delivery of the 2005 model year in August 2004. Of Ford’s initial 4500 planned, only 4038 cars were produced. Some lingered in dealerships and storage facilities waiting to be sold until 2007. During its production period, each GT would go through four of Ford’s factories before it received its verification badge. The body was prepared at the Mayflower Vehicle Systems plant in Norwalk, OH, and then everything was shipped to Saleen Special Vehicles in Troy, MI to be painted with its final colors.. The engines for every GT were hand built at Ford’s Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, MI. Final assembly of the body, engine and transmission were taken care of by the SVT building at Ford’s Wixom, MI plant. Production estimates for each year can be seen in the chart below.
To own a Ford GT back in 2003-2004 you needed to invest $139,995 for the base model. Come 2005, and Ford had increased its MSRP to $149,995. Optional equipment was available upon order such as a McIntosh sound system, racing stripes, painted brake calipers, and forged alloy wheels which could set you back another $13,500.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Ford’s first victory at Le Mans, the 2006 Ford GT “Heritage” edition was released to commemorate the JW Automotive/American Gulf Oil-sponsored Le Mans winning Ford GT racer. The option was $13,000 at the time. The history behind the legendary colors was reason enough for some to forfeit their dollars.
The history goes as such; in 1963, Henry Ford II went to Italy and tried to buy Ferrari. Not just a Ferrari, but the entire company. Enzo Ferrari told him he had no intent of selling and sent the American businessmen back home. Returning from Italy, Henry issued a company-wide edict: “Kick Ferrari’s ass.” Ford Motor Company invested vast resources into humiliating and beating Ferrari on the most visible world stage there was: the 24 hours of LeMans. Early efforts were not successful, as Ferrari finished 1-2-3 in 1964 and 1965; so Ford hired the legendary Carroll Shelby to fine tune the GT40 racecar. The effort was a resounding success, with Ford GT40s winning LeMans an unprecedented four times in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.
It was a great time in history for Ford, so to commemorate this 40th anniversary of their Le Mans win in 1966 the supercar they had build for their 100th anniversary was a perfect opportunity.
Powered by a supercharged 5.4L V8 engine, the modern GT did not leave its predecessor in shame of its performance. The engine produces 550hp at 6500 rpm and generates 500 lb-ft of torque at 3750 rpm. The GT leaves the start line from 0-100 in 3.5 seconds. It can then make its way up to 200 in 7.4 and to 241 in 16.9 seconds. The top speed is limited to 330kph and the GT is said to run the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds.
At its time of production the GT featured many new innovations such as a superplastic-formed frame, aluminum body panels, roll-bonded floor panels, a friction stir welded center tunnel, a “ship-in-a-bottle” gas tank, a capless fuel filler system, one-piece door panels, and an aluminum engine cover with a one-piece carbon-fiber inner panel. Brembo provided brakes and Ricardo a six speed transmission.
To talk specifics about this particular GT I had the chance to meet, it wears #6 on all sides of the car. It has 631 miles on the odometer and is owned by a paraplegic man who unfortunately cannot drive it. It is in mint condition and has never seen rain or adverse weather. The owner took possession of it in 2006 and has proudly kept it in his garage since. The car can seldom be seen on the road after regular fluid changes or for maintenance purposes, and does not attend any event or show. I was quite surprised that despite these rigorous conditions I had the opportunity to shoot it.
The Ford GT is a piece of history in itself and makes for a great story even though its older brother, the GT40 is always taking away the spotlight. Ford did an exceptional job to commemorate its centennial year with such a supercar. The cars timeless design secures it a spot on the list of “to have” supercars of the early 2000 era. For years to come the GT will remain a highlight in Fords production history.
Engine capacity / 5,409CC
Type / 90° V8
Technology / Twin-screw Supercharged, Dry Sump
Valvetrain / 32-VALVE, DOHC
Bore X Stroke / 90.2MM X 105.8MM
Compression ratio / 8.4:1
Power / (410KW) 550HP @ 6,500RPM
Torque / 678NM (500 Lb-Ft) @ 3,750
Type: Ricardo manual
Tyre type / Goodyear F1 Supercar
Front tyre / 235/45 R18
Rear tyre / 315/40 R19
Brake type / Cross-drilled and Ventilated discs
Brake calipers / (F/R) Four-piston/Four-piston
Wheel size / (F/R) 9” X 18”/11.5” X 19”
Maximum speed / 330KPH (205MPH)
0-100KPH (62MPH) / 3.5s
0-160KPH (100MPH) / 7.4S
0-241MPH (150MPH) / 16.9S
0-400M (¼ MILE) / 11.2S @ 211.1KPH (131.2MPH)
Din weight / 3390.7LB
Fuel consumption / 16.80 L/100 km (14 mpg)
Power to weight / 351.15PS/Tonne (346.35HP/Tonne)