After briefly driving the Ford GT for the first time on Gingerman Raceway in October of 2003 I was given a second opportunity in April of 2004. This time I had the car for over 48 hours on the roads in and around Napa Valley. During this drive I also learned I was getting an allocation to buy a 2005 Ford GT, equipped the way I wanted and sold at MSRP. This is the road test I wrote and these are the photos that came from driving that pre-production test car. This article first published July 2, 2004:
In June of 2004 I went to a small studio in West Los Angeles to be interviewed for a series called “Behind the Headlights.” This series of documentary programs, written by noted automotive journalist and historian Ken Gross, focused each episode on one highly significant automobile from history. Examples included James Dean’s Porsche 550 Spyder, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR from the 1955 Le Mans crash, and the 1961 Lincoln Continental, also known as the X-100, that carried JFK on that fateful day in Dallas.
The episode I contributed to focused on the 1967 Ford GT40 Mark IV that won Le Mans in 1967. While that specific GT40 was the star of the show, the 45-minute documentary discussed the entire Ford GT40 race program, from the attempt to buy Ferrari in 1963, through the 1969 Le Mans win and even the 2005-2006 Ford GT revival. I’m probably biased, but I consider it the most effective and entertaining telling of the Ford GT40 story (and I’ve seen them all).
Being a part of this show, shortly after learning I’d be getting a new 2005 Ford GT but about a year before I took possession, was incredibly rewarding. Not only was I thrilled to discuss the original Ford GT40, I also felt honored (and a bit out of place) to be among the legendary individuals that appeared in this episode of Behind the Headlights. I’m convinced when people watch this episode they ask the same question Bill Ford Jr. asked when looking at the list of 2005 Ford GT applicants: “Who is Karl Brauer?”
In my 2-year effort to secure a 2005 Ford GT, preferably at MSRP, I had called over 50 Ford dealerships across the U.S. When I started the process in mid-2002 the most common response to “Would you commit to selling me a GT at MSRP?” was “Sure, we got Mustangs on the lot. Come on down!” Telling the dealer rep I was calling about a future Ford exotic car, with a mid-engine V8, was usually met with an extended pause, followed by “Umm…I haven’t heard about that. Let me get back to you.” Despite these challenges I had five dealers express interest in selling me the car at MSRP “…if and when it shows up.” I was surprised by the skepticism many dealers expressed about the car ever actually being built, which was increasingly frustrating as I watched the Ford GT progress from concept car to production vehicle over the course of 2 years.
Then, the Super Bowl commercial hit on February 1, 2004, and suddenly every Ford dealer was very aware of the car…and the potential it held for dealer mark-up. I can only imagine how many phone calls flooded showroom switchboards on the Monday after Super Bowl XXXVIII. Not surprisingly, when I checked back with the dealers who had previously committed to selling the car at MSRP (including one I’d sent a $2,000 deposit to), they had a different attitude after the Super Bowl commercial. “Yeah, we’re going to use a bidding process for the car.” Read more
On February 1st, 2004 the New England Patriots eked out a 3-point win over the Carolina Panthers. It was an excellent game, though somewhat overshadowed by Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” during the halftime show. For me all of those factors faded into the background of what I considered the most exciting (and frustrating) element of Super Bowl XXXVIII.
This was the moment the world discovered the Ford GT. Yes, it was shown at the Detroit Auto Show 2 years earlier as a concept. And yes, plenty of magazines and websites had published stories of its ongoing development. Heck, I’d already written two well-received stories on the Ford GT myself. But Super Bowl commercials are not random auto show debuts or car buff articles. Super Bowl commercials remain the one place where much of our distracted Western Civilization stops what they’re doing and pays attention. Read more
By October 2003 it had been almost 2 years since the Ford GT40 concept debuted at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show. At this point GT enthusiasts knew the car would be called the “GT” and not “GT40” due to a legal battle with Safir GT40 Spares (a company that owned the rights to the term). We also knew the car was suffering delays in development. Challenges related to the Ford GT’s paint process, central fuel tank and aluminum suspension pieces had delayed its production, though three prototype versions of the GT (one red, one white, and one blue), were presented in June of 2003 at Ford’s Centennial Celebration.
Those three prototypes, dubbed 2004 Ford GTs, were one-off models used to engineer the final 2005 production versions. Their prototype nature made them worth over a million dollars, each, and the white one also happened to be Bill Ford Jr’s personal car. I didn’t know if I’d ever get to drive these prototypes, but then my primary Ford GT contact, Alan Hall, called to say I could drive them (except Bill’s) at Gingerman Raceway, a track in Western Michigan. I actually had a prior commitment in Las Vegas the night before, which meant a red-eye flight to Detroit, followed by a 3-hour drive from Detroit Metro Airport to Gingerman Raceway. Ford was kind enough to leave me a Ford SVT Focus at the airport, but I was running on empty when I got to the track. Thankfully, the sight of multiple Ford GTs racing around Gingerman instantly restored me to peak energy. This was the first time I’d seen the GT outside a static show display.
Once I knew Ford was producing a new Ford GT (in March of 2002) I followed the car’s progress very closely. I’d already let my Ford contacts know I wanted a GT, but there was no guarantee I’d have any better shot at one than the thousands of other car fanatics chomping at the bit. Actually, despite the car’s stunning looks and unique mid-engine V8 design I was surprised how many people didn’t know the Ford GT was coming. But that would change soon…
In the meantime I kept in close contact with my friends at Ford, listening for any updates on development progress. I even flew to the Ford GT’s development center in Dearborn and interviewed several members of the design team. Here is the original text from an August 21st, 2003 story: Read more
When Ford debuted its GT40 concept at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2002 it completely stole the show. Nobody knew it was coming, and nobody (including yours truly) thought Ford would actually build a production version. It was less than 6 months after the September 11th attacks. A new level of uncertainty had gripped the nation. Car companies didn’t know what the economic fallout would be. GM’s “Keep America Rolling” campaign started a few weeks after the attack, with major price cuts that actually kept Americans visiting dealer showrooms versus locking up their bank accounts. Most automakers joined the effort, the government instituted several automotive tax incentives, and 2001 ended up being a healthy year for new car sales. But could Ford, a company that was already struggling financially in the early 2000s, really afford to build a single-minded, low-volume sports car? Read more
It seems fitting to launch this site with a post about receiving an allocation for a 2017 Ford GT. Ford has only committed to to building approximately 1000 of these unique vehicles over a 4-year production run, with only 600 available in the U.S. Getting approved was not easy, but I had an 11-year/27,000-mile history of being an original 2005 Ford GT owner helping my case for a 2017 Ford GT allocation.
This site will describe my ownership history with my 2005 Ford GT, which really began in January 2002. It will also chronicle my experience of ordering, receiving, owning (…and paying for…) a 2017 Ford GT. I have over a thousand photos and over 100 ownership blog posts from the last 11 years, plus quite a few videos documenting everything I’ve seen and done since Ford unveiled its yellow GT40 concept car at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show. I’ll be posting all of them here over the next few months while also reporting on my impending purchase of a 2017 Ford GT. Read more