The Le Mans winning supercar coming to Capital this year. Before it does, let’s take a look at some of the first Ford GT reviews to start rolling out.
Ford summarizes one of the GT’s greatest innovations like this,
GT’s aerodynamics change on demand to meet varying driving conditions, thanks to moveable elements around the body, including special ducts in the front, and a large deployable wing. The flaps open and close depending on whether GT’s wing is up or down, so the car remains aerodynamically balanced from front to back at all speeds. When the wing is up, the ducts close to increase downforce; when the wing is down, the ducts open to decrease downforce.
In general, independent reviewers seem unanimous in the conclusion that Ford’s modifications have created a pretty thrilling end product. Aaron Robinson at Car and Driver says, “The grip is obviously tremendous and the ride not quite the body slam I was expecting. The GT swallows curbs and camber changes with sang-froid, the roll and body motions minimized but not choppy.” That doesn’t sound like you can expect the comfort of a Lincoln Continental with Deepsoft seats, but the GT isn’t for those chasing a peaceful ride.
So, who is it for? Despite the price tag and race ambitions, building the Ford GT wasn’t just a project to appease the super wealthy. From day one, Ford designers wanted to apply everything they learned building the GT to the rest of the Ford lineup. No, that doesn’t mean you’ll find a shape-changing rear wing on your next Fiesta. But it does mean it will be more aerodynamic.
Additionally, Ford recently introduced military-grade aluminum construction to their F-Series lineup. That decision came about from lessons learned during the GT project. The supercar also features a purely digital dashboard that you’ll find on the 2018 Mustang. But that’s not the only, or most significant, point of intersection between the Mustang and GT.
As it happens, the GT was born from a cancelled Mustang project. Ford was trying to build a super-powered Mustang for the 50th anniversary of the pony’s 1966 Le Mans victory. However, the development team realised the Mustang would have to become more aerodynamic that to meet their performance objectives . As they redesigned the body, the Mustang stopped looking like… well, a Mustang. Ford moved to scrap the project, but Nair took some of the engineers and designers and formed a surreptitious GT team. Operating out of a basement in Ford’s Product Development Centre, “Project Phoenix” took all the best elements of the abandoned Mustang and began reviving the Ford GT.
Chris Svensson, a project designer, says “We were told when we started this project it was not to bite into our day job. So the GT meetings were held every Wednesday night from 8 until midnight. We looked at the iconic 1965 GT40 and identified key elements such as the waterline across the nose that bites back”. More importantly, Svensson says his team “looked at how we could make it much more aero efficient than anything else out there on the road today.” And the GT is certainly aero efficient.
Poetically, what began as an attempt to celebrate a historic Le Mans victory, became an attempt to win another. And that’s precisely what Ford did. In 2016, the #68 GT, part of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Team finished first place in the GTE-Pro class. 50 years after the GT’s 1, 2, 3 sweep, the supercar had returned to claim the title in the world’s oldest endurance sports car race.
Admittedly, the GT set to arrive at Capital Ford can’t expect the exciting life of Chip Ganassi’s. Then again, it’s tough to get a good look at a 647-horsepower supercar capable of travelling 347 km/hr when it’s on the road. So, maybe it’s best for Saskatchewan’s Ford enthusiasts that it stays safely within a showroom… at least for a while.