It was late June of 2005 when I saw my Ford GT on the assembly line. It was early in the build process, and I was told it would be at least 2 months before the car was fully assembled and shipped to California. I was hoping to take possession before the end of August, but when my contact at Santa Monica Ford called me on August 22nd and said, “So, Karl, there’s this dark blue Ford GT sitting in my service bay” it still took me a moment to process the situation.
Remember, this was the culmination of a three-and-half-year journey. It started when I saw the concept GT40 in Detroit in January of 2002, continued with my contacting John Clinard at Ford when the GT was announced for production in March of 2002, and encompassed multiple trips to Detroit and a Michigan race track, plus a driving experience in Northern California, before seeing my car being produced on the assembly line. Now it was at a dealership less than one-mile away.
“Do you want me to leave it there for a few days to help drive showroom traffic?” As much as I wanted to rush over and collect the car immediately, I felt I owed Santa Monica Ford an opportunity to benefit from having the car to draw customers. The dealership had treated me well when buying my 2001 Mustang Bullitt and other Ford products for my website’s long-term fleet. “To tell you the truth Karl, I’m nervous having it around. I’ll feel better when it’s safely in your possession.”
He didn’t have to ask me twice. I couldn’t actually get the Ford GT that day because it was already late afternoon and I had to arrange financial and vehicle logistics. I told him I’d be there the next day, and then went home without telling my wife a thing. I wanted to surprise her.
I arrived to pick up the GT around noon the next day and I clearly remember that first moment standing next to it in the service bay. We’d finished signing the paperwork in my dealer contact’s office, and as he handed me the keys he said, “Well, are you ready for this?” I had this strange moment of sadness when I realized 40 months of anticipation driven by getting a Ford GT would now be replaced by having a Ford GT. It sounds silly of course, but that aura of anticipation in the background of my daily grind had almost become like a friend of mine.
Now it would be gone. Yes, it would be replaced by something far better, but it represented the end of my journey to acquire a Ford GT. Like that great line from the movie Swingers about missing the pain. “I don’t know,” I told the salesman. “I’ve been wanting this car for so long I’m not sure how to deal with actually getting it.” Then after a short pause I added, “But I’ll probably figure it out.”
Then I opened the door, slid behind the wheel and started it up. The odometer showed 7 miles, and I still remember when it turned over 10 miles on my way home that afternoon, my mind thinking, “Another ending — no more single digits on the odo.” I stopped at my in-laws house first. They were used to seeing me in all kinds of crazy cars because of my job as an automotive journalist. I specifically told them, “This one is mine. It’s not going away in a week” — which is the standard press vehicle loan period. I also told them, “Don’t call Stacie before I get home. I want to surprise her.”
When I got home I left the car in the driveway, went inside through the front door, and told my wife I needed her help in the garage. We walked down together and I hit the button on the garage door opener. It slid up to reveal a Midnight Blue 2005 Ford GT facing us. She jumped a little bit before blurting out, “You got your car!”
Yes, I did.