Ford GT has Billet Suspension Pieces, Aluminum Door Trim and is Motorcycle Approved

July of 2007 was a big month for my Ford GT. It was tested for acceleration times in stock form because I knew I’d be modifying it for more power and I wanted baseline numbers. I played around with the loose aluminum door trim while waiting for improved fasteners. I noted the car still felt tight after more than 9,000 miles on the odometer, I commented on why most 2005 Ford GTs have billet aluminum A-arms, and I noticed the door sill scuff plates were, unfortunately, living up to their name. The odometer reached nearly 10,000 miles this month.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Laguna Seca
The Ford GT still feels tight at 9,000 miles

Ford GT Still Feels New After 9,000 miles

July 2, 2007 at 9,068 miles

Vehicles age a lot like humans. In both cases you rarely notice the process because it happens slowly, but get away from a car (or person) for a good chunk of time and when you come back some additional chassis looseness (in both cases) is quickly noticed. I was in the unique position of driving the primary West Coast Ford GT PR car on several occasions. The last time I drove it the odometer read somewhere north of 23,000 miles, all of them accumulated at the hands of automotive journalists and Ford employees…

The car still felt great while lapping Laguna Seca, but right after driving it I hopped in my Ford GT (with around 700 miles on it at the time) and it was like, “Ummm…I think the Ford press car is a tad loose.” It was only driving the two vehicles back-to-back, on the exact same driving loop (a race course, in this instance) that the difference was obvious.

Now the long-term GT has 9,000 miles on it, and I think it feels “good as new” – but without a back-to-back drive of a brand new one, over the same exact road, I’ll never know. And that’s probably never going to happen, so maybe ignorance really is bliss.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Scuff Plate
The scuff plates in the Ford GT are living up to their name

Ford GT Scuff Plates Showing More Scuffs

July 9, 2007 at 9,143 miles

While most of the Ford GT is holding up well after 9,000 miles there are a couple areas showing signs of wear. Probably the most egregious is the scuff place just inside each of the doors. You’d expect an interior component in this location (and with the name “scuff plate”) to get…well, scuffed. But while the scuffs themselves are not unexpected the highly polished, mirror-like insert that says “Ford” is really highlighting them.

The “Ford” lettering has several scratches going right through it, and adjacent to the letting is a cluster of scratches that may have happened during the audio system upgrade I performed (I was laying accross this plate while working under the dash on multiple occasions). Regardless of the cause, the effect is one that likely can’t be fixed without further removing the “Ford” lettering. Other GT owners have dealt with this issue in one of two ways.

First, assuming the dealer didn’t already pull it before they took delivery, some owners simply leave on the blue-tinted protective plastic that covers these plate inserts when the cars are shipped from the factory. I did that on the passenger side plate for several months, but then I heard from a GT tech that if you leave the plastic on too long it will eventually adhere to the metal and become quite difficult to remove. So now the plastic is gone.

The second option is to buy replacement inserts from the factory and figure that, at some point, you’ll replace them. Some owners (like me) think these cars should be driven as regular cars for at least as long as they are under warranty. It’s ironic when you realize many exotic/special interest cars are treated with kit gloves when they have a full factory warranty. What a waste. Anyway, if you drive a GT for several years and enjoy it, but eventually decide to “retire” it for special interest use, it would be a good idea to have a spare set of plates around for the cruise/show circuit. I’ve checked pricing on these plates and they are about $50 a piece. Not cheap, but a small investment for GT owners wanting that “new car” sparkle years from now.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Loose Door Trim
The aluminum door trim remains loose until replacement fasteners arrive

Ford GT Aluminum Door Trim Needs Updated Fasteners

July 16, 2007 at 9,247 miles

Still waiting for the upgraded fasteners for the Long-Term Ford GT’s interior door trim. The double-sided tape has given up on several other cars, and while the trim on this car has never fallen off it was loose and moved around a bit. I had Santa Monica Ford order the upgraded fasteners based on a Ford-issued TSB about a month ago. Still no word from them.

However, with the upgrade imminent, I decided to take the interior trim off myself this past weekend just to see what the underside looked like. The trim was surprisingly difficult to remove once I decided to pull it off. I doubt it would have ever fallen completely off — at least not without some major temperature extremes over time. Most of the tape is thin and clear, but with very strong “stick” power. The dealership had to pull this same piece off before acting on the TSB, and it looks like they added another piece of tape to keep it secure until the parts arrive. I was able to stick the trim back on and it seems (relatively) secure once again.

Depressing to find this on a $160,000 exotic? Yes. Unique to the Ford GT? Not according to other exotic car owners I’ve spoken with or heard from. Apparently these kind of “creative” assembly procedures are pretty common. At least Ford is offering a free upgrade.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Billet A-Arm
The billet A-Arms on most 2005 Ford GTs give them an even more exotic pedigree

Ford GT Billet Suspension Arms

July 23, 2007 at 9,280 miles

Why did the MSRP of Ford’s GT increase $10,000 for late 2005s and all 2006s? Some say it’s because Ford saw dealers gouging — yet still getting — transaction prices far in excess of the original $139,995 (Ford insiders have told me company execs wished they’d picked a higher MSRP from the start). Others say it’s because Ford needed more money on the later cars to make up for unforeseen costs overruns on earlier cars, and this is essentially true.

Beyond the paint and fuel tank issues on early cars there was the much-publicized “A-arm” recall that had non-believers in Ford’s ability to produce a world-class exotic jumping up and down shouting, “See! Told you so!!” The problem came from an aluminum casting technique that saw early A-arms crack during the cooling process. Ford needed to revamp the casting technique, but if they halted production of the GT until the issue was fully sorted the cars would have been delayed for several months.

The sort-term alternative? Fully machine the A-arms in high-grade (and high cost) billet aluminum. Thus cars made through July of 2005, or somewhere around 1800 of the first 2000 cars produced, are equipped with exotic (and downright purdy) billet A-arms. According to Ford insiders each car equipped with such A-arms (including my Ford GT, number 1456 from the 2005 model run) cost the company an extra…$10,000 to produce.

So just to review, the later cars with the less expensive standard aluminum A-arms are the ones with the higher MSRP.

And now you know the rest of the story.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Brent Romans
A borrowed Ford GT provides an excuse to play

Ford GT Enjoyed for 6 Hours By New Driver

July 27, 2007 at 9,650 miles

What would you do if a friend handed you the keys to his Ford GT for a no-holds-barred, six-hour period? Trip to Vegas? Jump it slo-mo style with a Star Wars CD in the head unit? Rub it with a diaper? Well, I got the keys to the Karl Brauer Ford GT-mobile. And in six hours, I found love, lost $8 and grossly broke various driving laws — with a police officer in the passenger seat. This is the story.

2:04 p.m. Karl Brauer starts giving me the pre-flight checklist on his Ford GT. Walk-around. How-tos. Gearbox talk. Then he starts showing me the features of the GT’s aftermarket JVC head unit. “I’ve got some music burned on the hard drive: Boston, The Cars…” This is where my mind wanders off. Karl and I share many interests, but big-hit 1970s and ’80s bands aren’t one of them.

2:23 p.m. Finally, he hands me the key, issues a best of luck and then disappears in his other car, a 1973 Saab Sonnett, the off-kilter sound of the V4 echoing off the parking garage walls as he leaves.

2:27 p.m. A stab at the red starter button has the supercharged V8 behind me quickly coming to life. I let it warm up a little, select what I think is reverse and let out the clutch. The GT rolls forward. Oops. What was Karl saying about reverse? Maybe I should have been paying more attention. A couple minutes of general monkeying around gets me reverse and a save from potential embarrassment.

2:36 p.m. Brent has left the building. Destination: my home, 250 miles away. But surprise! I’m first stuck in heavy Los Angeles traffic. Finally, I queue up in pole position for a left-hand turn onto my first freeway entrance. A ratty beige Corolla is next to me. It’s a rolling start through the corner then wheels straight for the declined entrance. Go time.

Technically, this is the quickest non-race car I’ve ever driven solo. But this doesn’t occur to me until after the following happens: My head snaps back and bounces off the head restraint. My lunch cooler, previously left in the passenger footwell, goes airborne. The view out the windshield hits warp speed. The Corolla is left awash in eddies of carbon dioxide. And this is just 1st gear.

The burst of speed, complete with the soundtrack of a bellowing, 550-horsepower V8 and machined supercharger whine, lasts probably 4 seconds before I have to slow down for stopped highway traffic.

2:37 p.m. The Corolla putters past in the lane next to me. The irony is as inescapable as a summer-of-2007 afternoon flight delay.

3:04 p.m. More multilane super-slab travel. I happen to notice that in the lane next to me are the following cars lined up: a new Rolls Royce Phantom, a yellow Ferrari 355 and a black 997 Porsche 911. Only in L.A. can a 911 become a wallflower.

3:10 p.m. The 911 and Roller are gone but the Ferrari remains. I sneak a glance. The 355’s driver is a woman. Blonde hair pulled in a ponytail, fashionably oversized sunglasses. She’s petite, probably early 40ish and certainly attractive. The GT and 355 pull even. On TV, this improbable encounter would lead to, well, something. A 140-mph race, a passionate love affair or maybe just a free Geico insurance quote. But in the real world, even the GT’s burly American charm is unable to persuade Ms. Italia to look over.

4:05 p.m. With the 355 long since peeled off, I’m heading north and clear of Southern California traffic. It’s time for my first fuel-up. Parked at the gas station, I’m afraid that the GT’s wide-opening driver-side door will be dangerously exposed to circling cars. So I don’t fully open it before I step out and up to exit the GT.

My altruistic nature is rewarded with my head solidly bonking on the flowing overhead door panel. Given the crowded gas station and ubiquity of camera phones these days, I wouldn’t be surprised if my gaffe is now circulating as a YouTube video. Title: Dumb-ass Ford GT owner.

5:07 p.m. Even though it’s been out for years, the Ford GT still attracts plenty of attention from the masses. On the highway, a black Jetta does a slow, circling drive-by. Other motorists twist their heads.

5:08 p.m. Meanwhile, I’m trying to scribble notes on the back of a gas receipt because I forgot a voice recorder. The GT’s bouncy ride over freeway expansion joints makes this a humorous challenge.

6:30 p.m. I’m in need of a fuel top-off and exit the highway. As I come up to the red-lighted left-hand turn lane for a U-turn, I spot a man standing on the median. Presumably homeless, he’s wearing shorts and a crumpled shirt and holding a faded-out cardboard sign.

“My” $150,000 GT is the only car at the intersection. The socioeconomic disparity is something that not even Simon from American Idol could be cruel enough to overlook. I can see homeless guy already talking as I power down the window and start to fish a wad of bills from my wallet. It’s probably 100 degrees out.

“Man, this is a Ford GT500, isn’t it?” he exclaims. “Erm, yes, yes it is,” I find myself saying, not wanting to break the spell. Then he turns around and yells, “Dang, told you, it’s a Ford GT500!” I can see he’s talking to a buddy of his on the other side of the street. He’s excited, so much so that he never thanks me for the money. The appearance of a GT on a hot summer day, it seems, is enjoyment enough.

6:45 p.m. I’m home and have parked the GT in front of my house. My mom, visiting for a week, comes out to see it. “What’s that?” That’s the engine, mom. “So what’s up front?” Nothing. “What are these holes for?” Air for the engine. “And what are these red things in the wheels?” Brake calipers. “But why are they red?” Because they look cool that way. She moves to the back. “Enzo Butter. What’s that?” Erm…

7:25 p.m. An acquaintance of mine spots the GT. He knows what I do for a living and occasionally drives by my house after work to see what’s in the driveway. He wants a ride. Well, OK. He’s looked at the cars before but never asked for a ride. He hops in and we head out.

I get on the throttle a little but I’m hesitant to do more. I should probably mention at this point that my acquaintance is a police officer. This mention is because, after 5 minutes of not much going on, he says: “I brought my badge with me.” Oh. Briefly, I wonder if he means “slow down” or if I have a living Get Out Of Jail Free card sitting next to me. I decide on the latter.

7:43 p.m. We get to the outskirts of town and the GT is free to play. Through the gears — 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th. It’s hot out, but the GT is pulling strong. The speedo shows 120 mph on one burst, then 125 mph on another. Just like Vin Diesel, we’re living our lives a quarter mile at a time. And my acquaintance loves it.

8:15 p.m. We get back to my house. The acquaintance thanks me and it’s time to put the GT to bed. I pull my Mazda Miata out of its comfortable place in the garage and park it on the street. So sorry, my friend. The GT burbles into the garage. It looks fantastic.

Thanks, Karl.

Epilogue: I drove the GT as part of acquiring some baseline acceleration times we ran the next day. Our times were zero to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and a quarter-mile pass of 11.8 seconds at 124 mph. But apparently, this isn’t enough. Coverage about making Karl’s Ford GT even quicker will be coming soon.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Track Test
We tested the Ford GT’s acceleration in stock form

Ford GT is Easy-going Exotic

July 25, 2007 at 9,866 miles

I got some seat time in Karl’s Ford GT today. Drove it from a test track near Bakersfield back to Santa Monica. Apart from moving a Ford GT around in a large parking lot for photos a few years back, I’d never really driven one. We all know the GT accelerates like an F-14 with the afterburners kicked in and will hit 200mph, so what’s it like to drive in the real world? Amazingly drama-free. No finicky clutch action, no abrupt throttle response. Just a perfectly behaved supercar. It’s a smooth operator, from the perfectly weighted and calibrated steering that’s quick without being twitchy to the gear shifter that moves as if it’s lined with teflon and machined to aerospace tolerances.

I was also impressed with the GT’s cool demeanor. With temps in the mid-90s, the A/C running and some elevations on the 5 that would put Lance Armstrong to the test, the gauge never rose above 200 degrees, and most of the time hovered around 180 or so.

Although I didn’t get to sample any twisty roads, it was fun driving the GT thanks to its easy going demeanor and umm, willing performance. Well, it was fun until I got within 15 miles of L.A. on the 405 where, big surprise, it was stop and go even though it was 11:20 am. Basically, if you’re trying to drive anywhere near L.A. and its Sunday through Saturday between midnight and 11:59 pm, you’re bumming.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Motorcyclist Approved
The Ford GT generates universal love from motorcyclists

Ford GT is Motorcyclist Approved

July 30, 2007 at 9,876 miles

In the past 13 years I’ve driven something along the lines of 600 test vehicles, but more than any other vehicle I’ve ever driven the Ford GT has a very clear characteristic — motorcyclists dig it. The percentage of two-wheelers that make an overt, positive acknowledgement of the GT’s presence is higher than any model I’ve experienced. Sure, the GT tends to get a reaction from everyone (cars, trucks, pedestrians; I think I’ve even noticed plants giving it the “petals up” sign), but so does a Viper, Gallardo or F430. I’ve driven all of those cars around West L.A…and plenty of fellow motorists notice them, but the specific reaction from motorcyclists to the GT is something I’ve never seen before.

And it’s not just a specific type of rider, either. To paraphrase principal Ed Rooney’s secretary from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: “The cruisers, cafe racers, naked bikes, vintage iron, enduros — they all love it. They think it’s a righteous ride.”

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