10 Things You Need to Know About the Ford GT
In the early 1960’s, Henry Ford II wanted to have a car at the mother of all races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a botched merger with Ferrari in the mid-‘60s, an outraged Ford decided to take out his frustrations by creating an American-made hypercar, the Ford GT40. The GT40 went on to win Le Mans in four consecutive years, highlighted by a sweep of the top three positions in the 1966 race. What came next was continued success for Ford Motor Company and the beginning of the American muscle car as we know it.
Although the Ford GT was created in the 1960s, the modern iteration of the vehicle was produced in 2004. Assembled in three separate plants across Michigan and Ohio for the 2005 and 2006 model years, Ford produced roughly 4,000 of these exotic American sports cars. With a starting price of around $140,000, these cars were picked up by car lovers and speed demons around the world. The 2005 GT was powered by a 5.4L Supercharged V8, which produced 550 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Although it never raced in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was a step in the right direction for Ford’s endurance race future.
At the 2015 North American International Auto Show, Mark Fields, the President and CEO of Ford Motor Company, asked the audience, “If you could use innovation to build the ultimate Ford performance vehicle, what would it be?” The answer to that question is the 2017 Ford GT. Unveiled in Ford’s classic liquid blue exterior, Fields announced that the GT would go into production in 2016.
In June of 2015, Ford released a full press kit and produced a commercial for the GT. In it, Ford announced that it was going back to France to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first GT in over 10 years, and the first Ford to race at Le Mans in 50 years, the new GT made jaws drop and competitors sweat.
Ford went all out when designing and assembling this Ferrari-fighter. The GT’s rear wing can enhance aerodynamics even when not deployed, and when deployed, has the ability to change its shape to enhance its airflow. With a ride height of 50mm (About 2 inches), the GT’s center of gravity is lowered to help improve downforce.
The GT is designed with what Ford calls a “tear-drop shape” and has “aircraft-inspired fuselage” and a “visibility-enhancing curved windshield,” all of which are supposed to make air pass over the car with as little friction as possible. These aerodynamic fixings don’t just help the GT go fast however: They also improve the stability, braking, and handling of the car.
With a body made almost entirely of carbon fiber and aluminum, the 2017 Ford GT has a curb weight of just 2,890 pounds. That makes it about 150 pounds heavier than the 2016 Honda Civic, despite having about 450 more horsepower. One of the reasons for using carbon fiber for the body, besides it being very lightweight, is that for its mass, carbon fiber is one of the strongest materials in the world. This allows the GT’s foundation to stay stiff, making for better performance.
In front of the rear wheels, large air inlets allow cool air to flow into the engine to keep temperatures down when pushing the car to its limits. To keep airflow over the top of the car, the exhaust is placed in the middle of the rear end of the car. All of these design features, along with carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes, help the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 push out over 600 horsepower.
If you thought the exterior of the GT was a thing of beauty, wait until you hear about what’s inside that carbon fiber body: more carbon fiber. The passenger cell that surrounds the driver and passenger is made completely of carbon fiber. The seats aren’t adjustable at all, but the pedals and steering column are fully adjustable.
The steering wheel is similar to those found in most Formula One vehicles: small, flat-bottomed, and filled with a multitude of buttons. Behind the steering wheel, a two-tier instrument panel shows all the information a driver needs without taking up too much of the small space.
Powerful Turbocharged Engine
Ford challenged its engineers to create the most powerful production EcoBoost engine ever. The engine that lives in almost every Ford in production, the classic EcoBoost, now powers one of the most powerful production cars in the world. Paired with a seven-speed automatic transmission, the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 produces over 600 horses.
The 600+ horsepower will be able to propel the GT to speeds well over 200 mph. Although Ford hasn’t released an official zero-to-60 time, critics expect the time to be around the 3-second mark.
The engine, the engineering, and years of testing helped the GT inspire fear in competitors. The GT debuted at the 24 Hours of Daytona, and while it didn’t take home the checkered flag, it did have two top ten finishes. However, Daytona was only a warmup for what Ford had been wanting all along: Le Mans.
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the epitome of racing. Started in 1923 in Le Mans, France, the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the oldest active endurance car race. Each car must have a minimum of three drivers who race through roughly 8 ½ miles of track and road for a full 24 hours, driving over 3,000 miles.
At this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, the No. 68 Ford GT, driven by Dirk Müller, Joey Hand, and Sébastien Bourdais completed 340 laps and held off the Ferrari team to win the GTE Pro division. Fifty years after finishing 1-2-3 in the 1966 Le Mans, Ford came away with their fifth win at the French endurance race. With the current Ford GT, Ford has come back with a vengeance.
The car is being built by Multimatic Inc., which is an Ontario-based manufacturing and engineering company. Multimatic is working closely with Ford to assemble both the Ford GT and the Ford Shelby GT350R-C, both of which are racing on international circuits.
This isn’t the first big vehicle for the Canadian company, having already helped engineer vehicles such as the Aston Martin Vulcan and manufacturing special dampers for the Chevrolet Camaro SS and Mercedes-AMG GT.
Ford is limiting the production of the 2017 GT to only 250 per year, so the chances of you being able to get your hands on one is slim, and even slimmer when you take into consideration that the Ford GT costs upward of $400,000. But, even if you have the cash lying around, you still have to go through a rigorous application process just to be considered eligible to purchase the GT.
The application includes questions on whether or not you’re a car enthusiast, if you own a Ford vehicle, if you’ve ever owned a Ford GT in the past, and if you’re “an influencer of public opinion.” The application process is closed now, but with over 7,000 applications already submitted, the odds of getting one were nearly impossible.
Future for Ford
So what’s next for the Ford GT? Well, the No. 66 GT will continue to race in the World Endurance Championship for the rest of the year, with the next race taking place at the historic Nürburgring complex. The rest of the team will make its way back to the U.S. to continue in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
As for Ford as a company, they look to build off the success of their newest EcoBoost engine. With some sort of EcoBoost engine in a growing number of Ford vehicles, maybe we can hope to see performance-oriented models such as the Ford F-150 Raptor and Ford Focus RS become even more powerful. Maybe we’ll even see a more powerful EcoBoost engine in the Mustang. Only time will tell.
You may not be able to get your hands on the GT, but check out our Best Ford deals for the latest discounts and incentives on other Ford cars, trucks, and SUVs. When you’re ready to buy, be sure to check out our Best Price Program where you can save (on average) about $3,000 off the retail price. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the best lease and finance deals.