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.
In the spring of 1989, about a year after I graduated high school, I remained a die hard big block, V8 muscle car advocate. At that point my experiences in 440-powered Mopars had defined my automotive enthusiasm, which meant I was a big believer in the “no replacement for displacement” mantra. Then my dad commented he was going to the Dodge dealership in Boulder to look at a used Dodge Shadow. I distinctly remember telling him, “If you have to buy one of those, at least get a turbo version.” In my head imagined an underpowered compact car, struggling to maintain 55 mph on westbound Interstate 70 as it plodded from my hometown of Golden to the scenic overlooks on Lookout Mountain.
A few hours later my dad returned and asked if I’d help him retrieve his new (slightly used) Dodge Shadow. I asked if it was a turbo version and he said, “yes” so I figured it would be interesting to see what he got. When we arrived at the dealership he pointed to a 2-door, black-and-gray Dodge Shadow with alloy wheels, a power-bulge hood and a blue pinstripe. It looked…cool! With notable exasperation I asked, “That’s what you bought?!”
One unexpected occurrence during the new Ford GT press launch was having Ford factory race driver, and lead Ford GT development driver, Billy Johnson drive my 2005 Ford GT. Billy had never driven a 2005 or 2006 Ford GT before the event, and when I heard that I was anxious to have him drive mine. The second-generation Ford GT remains one of the best-driving cars of all time, and I wanted Billy Johnson to experience it.
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
Last week’s Flash Back Friday featured my 1969 Plymouth GTX, the third car I owned (before I turned 16 and got my driver’s license…) and my first car that actually ran when I bought it. That GTX provided me with a wealth of memories, enough to justify another blog of its own, but as much fun as it was my second car, a 1970 Plymouth GTX, brought me even more joy.
I actually owned both GTXs at the same time for over a year. I bought the 1969 Plymouth GTX in April of 1985 for $2,200. The car was far from mint, but it was complete and ran fine, which makes that price seem all the more amazing 33 years later. I bought the 1970 Plymouth GTX in September of 1986 for $4,000. The ’70 was in near mint condition and all original with just one repaint. I sold the 1969 GTX in December of 1987 for $2,500, which was a monetary loss because I’d put an easy $1,000 in that car before it left. I couldn’t justify keeping both of them on my high school car budget, and I loved my 1970 Plymouth GTX far more. I kept that one for 24 years.
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?
I’ve already locked my order for my new Ford GT, but the process wasn’t easy. Ford allows buyers to paint the new Ford GT in any color they want, over and above the 8 factory colors. This means the only limit for new Ford GT buyers is imagination…and the ability to get the correct paint name or code to Ford.
Among the custom colors I considered is a classic Corvette shade called Lynndale Blue. Corvettes have worn some iconic colors over the years, including Goodwood Green, Marlboro Maroon and Tuxedo Black. There’s been some memorable Corvette blues, too, including Marina Blue and Elkhart Blue.
It may seem like my world revolves around the Ford GT, but as mentioned a couple days ago I also own a 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. In fact, it was just over a year ago when I committed to buying a Dodge Demon after driving it at the press introduction. When I made that commitment I knew buying a Demon would pretty much nuke my ability to keep my 2005 Ford GT and get a new Ford GT. There was simply no way to keep all three cars — the math wouldn’t work no matter how creatively I wrote the equation.