The Ford GT is one of the most fascinating—and, with a sticker price of approximately $450,000, expensive—American cars ever made. Conceived in under two years, in the wake of the collapse of a failed Ford Mustang-based halo car program called Project Silver, the new Ford GT emerged from a top-secret basement skunkworks and was revealed to a shocked audience at the Detroit Auto Show in January of 2015.
It's not a normal supercar—if such a thing exists. The Ford GT is powered by a mid-engined, twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that produces 647-horsepower and 550 pound-feet of good ol' American twist. It supposedly goes 215 mph. And it's a V6. Made in Michigan. Most decidedly not normal. But the Ford GT also bears the burden of history, since it picks up the baton from one of the most important race cars in our nation's history: the original Ford GT that took on the mighty Ferrari at 24 Hours of Le Mans in the mid-1960s (a drama captured brilliantly by Editor-at-Large, A.J. Baime, in Go Like Hell).
The road-going and racing GT were designed and developed simultaneously by Ford Performance, a newish division within FoMoCo that was once run by a combination of Ford Racing and Ford SVT programs. That's a selling point for the few buyers who'll be granted the privilege of paying what Ford execs say is "in the mid $400,000 range" for a car. Ford expects to build and sell just 250 Ford GTs every year for the next four years. We predict they will have no trouble selling the car, despite the extraordinary cost and a few minor stumbles in the finished product (see point 6).
We also predict it's going to be awesome. Why?
1. Dude, this car is really expensive
In fact, it must be the most expensive production car ever produced in America. You know what costs $450,000? Not the McLaren 720S ($288,475), which is going to come out under $300,000. Not the Ferrari 488 ($200,000) or Ferrari 812 Superfast, the successor to the F12 ($319,000) that should go for around $320,000. Sure, the Ford GT is a limited production—at 250 a year for four years—and the cap of 1,000 cars is certainly part of the price calculation. But still: that's an expensive car.
2. The engine is an EcoBoost V6
Yep, the same basic block that fires the Ford Fusion also forms the core of the Ford GT. Well, not exactly. When Project Silver was abandoned and Ford's skunkworks team turned to the GT project, it had to find a fast solution to the powerplant problem. So it looked to the 3.5-Liter EcoBoost V6 that had been developed by Ganassi Racing in their Daytona Prototype program. By keeping the car's weight down to 3,000 pounds and designing a charged air anti-lag system that keeps the turbos spinning, it's managed to compensate for being a 6 in a world of 8s and 12s.
3. The aerodynamics are sweet
The keel! The wing! The buttresses! The success of the Ford GT is all about air flow, both atop and below the car. In track and V-MAX modes, the body lowers on the hydraulically-actuated pushrod suspension down to a mere 70 millimeters, and a wing extends over the tail. In this configuration, the air channels through a massive body underwing that sucks the car to the ground. At 150 mph, the combination of the keel and the wing create 400 pounds of downforce.
4. It's a killer race car
Under the stewardship of Ganassi Racing, the Ford GT race program went from not existing at all to dominating at Sebring, Daytona and Le Mans in less than a year. You can bet the executives at Ford, who risked the legacy and reputation of the mighty GT on an accelerated development program to be ready by the 50th anniversary of the first For Le Mans win, breathed a sigh of relief.
5. The road car has an FIA-sanctioned roll cage
Every time I take a Lamborghini Aventador SV out on the Circuit de Catalunya F1 track in Barcelona (OK, I did that just once), I think to myself: I'd feel a lot better about driving 180 mph on the front stretch if this had a roll cage in it. Why? Because if you blow a tire at 180 mph without a cage, you're toast. The Ford team built an FIA-approved cage into the stock body that is nearly identical to the one in the Le Mans race car. How clever.
6. Some of the interior is a bit... chintzy.
It's a stripped down car. We get it. Raw, functional carbon fiber is all over the cockpit, which has a fixed h-point and a minimally adjustable backrest. The display includes a digital screen in front of the wheel that changes configurations with each ride mode setting (normal, wet, sport, track, V-MAX) and a steering wheel that signals shift points in manual paddle mode. But did they have to lift the infotainment screen form the Ford Fusion?
7. What turbo lag?
The EcoBoost engine is force-fed air through two turbos that use a system of charged air to keep the turbos spinning at all times—if you so choose. That means no turbo-lag, which means all the low- to mid-range torque you could ever want.