Commemorating 50 years of the LeMans victory

Ford GT at NAIASAt the recent North American International Auto Show held in Detroit, Ford unveiled the New GT. This preview was a welcome surprise in this day and age of broken embargoes and ‘leaked’ factory images.

Before we get in to the GT it is important to know a little about its history.

19th June 1966 – Ford claims a historic 1-2-3 finish at LeMans with the ford GT-40. It was truly one of the greatest achievements motivated by pure spite. A year earlier Henry Ford II tries to buy Ferrari , all the details are finalised and the deal is nearly done until old man Enzo Ferrari decides he’s not having any of it and cancels the deal via secretarial memo. This insult infuriates Ford and he sets about developing the GT-40 with the sole purpose of beating Ferrari at LeMans which by that stage had become Ferrari’s own stomping grounds.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of this historic victory Ford has decided to produce and race a new GT.

To keep this car a surprise, Ford had a very small handpicked team work on this project over weekends in a basement storage room with no windows. They even went so far as to eliminate card keys for the doors in lieu of physical keys and padlocks. When the designers needed to see the car in natural light they would roll it out on weekends away from prying eyes.

Their efforts for discretion have been worth it, as nothing beats a surprise and what a surprise it is. The Ford GT looks Jaw dropping-ly gorgeous. The design cues linking the new GT to the original GT-40 and even the 2005 version are all there. But the details and proportions are completely fresh and almost alien.

There are cars which pay heed to aerodynamics and then there are cars shaped by aerodynamics. This happens to be an example of the latter. The GT sits almost impossibly low and wide. This stance is further reinforced by the tunnels which actually let you see through the car. When viewed from the top down, the highly aerodynamic teardrop shape is clearly visible with its leading edge marked by the windshield and ending a sharp point down the centre. The effect is almost unnerving as the rear wheels look barely but definitely attached by the thin flying buttresses which connect to the roof. The rear end is dominated by the massive dual centrally mounted exhaust pipes, which look like they came off of a fighter jet. The dark foreboding exhausts are mirrored by the almost impossible looking tunnels which run though the car.

The front end of the car pays a clear nod to its predecessors with the nose defined by the single wrap around line which forms a sharp pointed beak. The laser diode element headlights look like a sci-fi prop piece and are neatly framed by two intertwining daytime running lights.

All-New Ford GT

The car is powered by a twin turbocharged 3.5L V6 rather than the traditional V8, but this is a sign of the times and not much can be done about it. Besides, the choice of engine is more of a marketing move, as the same engine already sees duty in a variety of existing Ford products. This further cements the GT’s role as a halo car. But have no fear, Ford claims power in excess of 600bhp and if certain sources are to be believed, this number will reach nearly 800bhp by the time the first cars are delivered.

Performance should be brisk, to say the least. Rough estimates suggest that this is a very light car tipping the scales at less than 1200 kilos and remember, this car is designed to be much more slippery than your average supercar so acceleration and top speed should be in Bugatti Veyron tickling territory.

However, sheer numbers have never been the point. Ford has designed this car to be simple, light, and to provide as much connection and driving pleasure to the driver as possible – which in this day of highly aided electronically festooned cars shouldn’t be a tall order at all.

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