At the 2018 Fabulous Fords Forever event the standard collection of vintage Fords was supplemented by multiple new Ford GTs as well as the oldest Ford GT. Of course the oldest Ford GT isn’t even a Ford. It’s a Lola Mk6 GT, the car that formed the basis of Ford’s effort to win Le Mans after Enzo Ferrari snubbed Henry Ford II’s bid to buy his company. At the Ford booth one of the three original Lola Mk6 GT’s was parked next to a new Ford GT, and seeing the two next to each other was pretty amazing.
The Lola Mk6 GT used a mid-mounted 289 Ford V8 in a British aluminum monocoque chassis. This was an advanced design in 1962 and it laid the groundwork for Ford’s GT40 MkI design. Seeing a Lola Mk6 GT next to a new Ford GT provided an excellent perspective on the new car’s lineage.
The new Ford GT’s specs were as guarded as the Coke formula or Kentucky Fried Chicken’s secret recipe when the car was under development. The specs were finally, fully released during the car’s press launch in May of 2017. At that point most enthusiasts had a general idea of the primary specifications, but the below sheets offer it all up in stark black-and-white (with some gray and yellow thrown in) pixels.
In August of 2017 another gathering of Ford GTs and Ford GT owners came together in Park City, Utah. While this was the 12th Ford GT Owners Rally, it was the first to feature new Ford GTs alongside 2005 and 2006 models. I had every intention of driving my 2005 Ford GT to this rally. After all, it was the same road trip I’d made in my GT just 4 months earlier to attend the new Ford GT press launch.
Sadly, after planning to drive the GT my schedule shifted and I couldn’t afford the 2 extra days to make the trip up and back. I quickly purchased airplane tickets and wondered what kind of rental car I’d be stuck in while following GTs through the mountains of Utah. Then I had an idea. What if I contacted Ford and asked for one of the new Shelby GT350Rs? I hadn’t driven one yet, and I’d be showcasing the Shelby to a highly-targeted demographic of likely customers.
Shortly after the press launch of the new Ford GT, in late April 2017, the annual Fabulous Fords Forever event happened at its traditional location, Knottsberry Farm. This event always features a massive collection of Ford vehicles, old and new. The range of models includes Thunderbirds, Broncos, Fairlanes, Torinos and as many Mustangs as I’ve ever seen.
The 2017 Fabulous Fords Forever event also had a display dedicated to the new Ford GT in racing form, including an IMSA race car and factory Ford driver Sebastian Bourdais signing autographs nearby. Sebastian is from Le Mans, France, which means he grew up watching that race in his hometown. I briefly spoke to him during the Fabulous Fords Forever event and congratulated him on winning the 2016 GTE Pro category and 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Another traditional aspect of Fabulous Fords Forever includes an appearance by famous Ford personalities, including 1960s and 1970s motorsports spokesmodel Linda Vaughn, Cleo Shelby (Carroll Shelby’s wife) and Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo. John Clinard, longstanding Ford PR executive, hosts the personalities at a lunch that includes the famous Knottsberry Farm pie desert (yum!).
The new Ford GT offers a lot of performance, regardless of how it’s configured. Every GT has a carbon fiber chassis, active aerodynamics, a pushrod-activated torsion bar suspension and a 647 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine offering up to 216 mph. That level of performance should satisfy most enthusiasts, but if you want even more performance from your Ford GT there is a “high-performance” version of this hypercar: The new Ford GT Competition Series.
This version of the Ford GT offers two advantages over the standard model. It’s got a lower total curb weight as well as a lower center of gravity. The center of gravity is reduced by using a Perspex acrylic engine hatch cover and carbon fiber prop rod instead of a standard glass cover and hydraulic strut.
When the new Ford GT press launch was over I had almost everything I needed to understand the GT’s capabilities and purpose. I say “almost” because there was an additional dimension to the GT’s engineering brilliance I had yet to explore, but I didn’t know this at the time…
Sure, I’d driven it on the street pretty aggressively, and I’d driven it on the track even more aggressively. But it was my first experience in Ford’s half-million dollar supercar on a track I’d never driven. To say I left plenty of reserve in my approach as I piloted the new Ford GT in both locations is an understatement.
After arriving at Utah Motorsports Campus in my 2005 Ford GT, and shooting some photos of it with a new Frozen White Ford GT, it was time to drive. The morning weather was still being typical Springtime in the Rockies, which meant bright sunlight one minute and overcast skies with light snow flurries the next. Both generations of Ford GT liked the cool temperatures, but it made things a bit nerve-wracking when driving the cars on the track.
The weather during the afternoon street drive was mercifully sunny and stable. The deserted roads east of Tooele provided the perfect driving conditions to explore our Liquid Red Ford GT press car. The GT lived up to its billing as a lightweight, barely-street-legal race car. The most compelling aspect was the immediate throttle response provided by the pre-boosted 3.5-liter V6 when placing the GT in “Sport” mode. Feedback through the Ford GT’s steering wheel and seat-of-pants was also pretty amazing, providing a level of confidence few cars offer at any price.
After driving 700 miles to Salt Lake city (through rain, snow flurries and hail) in my 2005 Ford GT I checked into my hotel and went to bed. The next day I hit the car wash before meeting Doug DeMuro and shooting a video of my car. This was part of a 2005 Ford GT versus 2017 Ford GT comparison Doug was creating for his YouTube channel. After spending a few hours shooting with Doug we traveled to the Utah Motorsports Campus in Tooele, Utah for the new Ford GT’s press launch opening dinner. A few feet from our table an original GT40 was parked next to a new Ford GT, setting the stage for a celebration of Ford’s multi-generational supercar.
In late April 2017 the much-anticipated new Ford GT was finally going to be available for automotive journalists to drive at its global press launch. Up until that point the only experience most folks, even industry insiders, had with the new Ford GT involved staring at it behind roped off sections of Ford’s auto show displays. I was fortunate enough to actually sit in the new GT at the 2017 Detroit Auto a few months earlier, but that was only for a few glorious, stationary minutes.
When I received notice of the new Ford GT press launch at Utah Motorsports Campus, about 40 miles west of Salt Lake City, I immediately knew how I was getting to the event. As I’ve stated many times, the 2005-2006 Ford GT is one of the best long-distance supercars ever created. It’s quick, it’s comfortable, and its easy going nature places almost no physical demands on the driver. It will even clear 24-plus mpg if you keep it in sixth gear, as 2,000 rpm translates to 80 mph. Plus I was pretty sure I’d be the only journalist showing up to the new Ford GT press launch in his own Ford GT
Yesterday I talked about one of the colors I considered for my new Ford GT. Today I’ll identify the only other paint-to-sample (custom) color I considered: Petty Blue.
Petty Blue is a color Plymouth offered on its vehicles in the early 1970s. It’s called Petty Blue because of its association to Richard Petty, one of the most famous NASCAR racers of all time. If you’ve seen the animated Pixar movie CARS the character “The King” is voiced by Richard Petty and the car represents a 1970 Plymouth Superbird painted Petty Blue.
I have loved this color ever since I first saw it in my early teens. Generally speaking I find blue, in all its hues, the best color for a car. And within the spectrum of blue, Petty Blue is one of my favorite shades. I told this to my Ford GT Concierge and asked for a sample, which Ford provided.
When the sample arrived it further confirmed how much I loved the color. I actually locked my new Ford GT specification with a paint-to-sample Petty Blue shade. But that was on a Friday, and I had until the following Tuesday to change my configuration. On the following Monday I changed my Ford GT color, bailing out on Petty Blue. Why?