New 2017 Ford GT Debuts in Detroit

New Ford GT Press Conference
Bill Ford Jr. and Mark Fields introduce the new Ford GT in Detroit

Starting in the fall of 2014 there were vague-yet-recurring rumblings about Ford building an all-new Ford GT. This rumor resurfaced every couple years after the 2005-2006 Ford GT ended production in October of 2006, making it hard to take this one seriously. At first…

But the rumors went from vague to specific as the the Detroit auto show approached. By December 2014 I was hearing the GT rumor from highly reliable sources, gradually wearing down my skepticism and inspiring me to get up early on January 12, 2015. That was the first press day of the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and Ford had the first press conference that day.

New Ford GT Front Press Conference
The new 2017 Ford GT is mobbed after its world debut in January 2015

I was one of the first people to sit down in Cobo Arena, about 90 minutes before the Ford press conference was scheduled to start. I ran into Dave Bannister, the man behind the Ford GT Forum, shortly after I arrived. This only added to my growing certainty that something big was going to happen. Dave and I had front row seats as the conference began.

New Ford GT Rear Press Conference
Bill Ford Jr. and Mark Fields take questions on the new GT

After a short speech from Ford’s CEO, Mark Fields, a highly produced Ford GT short film ran on an ultra-wide digital display screen above the stage. The film featured various quick shots of the new Ford GT in development and culminated in overall shots of the GT before the car rolled onto stage.

New Ford GT Detroit Auto Show Ford Booth
The new 2017 Ford GT drew a constant crowd at Ford’s booth at the show

My initial reaction was more confusion than excitement, as the car didn’t look anything like the original GT40 or the 2005-2006 Ford GT. Over time I’ve come to recognize the many styling cues on the new Ford GT that are obviously inspired by the original, but it’s clearly a substantial break from the past, which is a good thing. As timeless as the GT40’s shape is, Ford couldn’t go back to that well a third time. The company needed an ultra-high-performance car that looked forward, not back, and the new Ford GT delivers.

New GT Mark Fields Detroit Auto Show
Ford’s CEO Mark Fields was as excited about the new GT as I was

Over the next 48 hours I visited the Ford GT concept car several times at the Ford booth. I was able to talk to Mark Fields about it, and I told him I was almost as impressed with Ford’s ability to keep the car’s development secret as I was with the car itself. Mark told me a only small team knew about the car’s existence as it was developed in an obscure room in the basement of Ford’s development center.

After 2 press days I left the Detroit Auto Show in something of a daze. Less than a decade after picking up my 2005 Ford GT the automaker had created a new GT in secrecy before releasing it on an unsuspecting world. At the time I had no reason to believe I’d be able to get a new GT, though at least 25 people must have asked me “Are you going to get one???” in the first 24 hours following the press conference.

Now I have a definitive answer to that question.

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