There’s an ongoing discussion among new Ford GT fans: To stripe or not to stripe.
The new Ford GT is among the most dramatic vehicle designs ever created. It shows obvious ties back to the original GT40 and the 2005-2006 Ford GT, but it’s a clear break from the past. That past is rife with stripe-bearing Ford GTs, all of them looking quite good with stripes over the hood, roof and engine cover. But does this stripe treatment transfer to the new Ford GT?
I’ve driven a new Ford GT on multiple occasions, including its press introduction in April of 2017 and during the Kelley Blue Book Ford GT comparison test in May of 2018. During that comparison test we took all three generations of Ford GT to Lake Elsinore on Ortega Highway in South Orange County.
Ortega Highway, also known as State Route 74, is like many roadways in Southern California. It’s a twisting two-lane ribbon of pavement that could, theoretically, offer an amazing sports car (or motorcycle) experience. I say theoretically because Ortega Highway, like most California roads, is overrun with traffic congestion most of the day. And night. But after the final day of shooting the Ford GT comparison, as I drove the new Ford GT back to Irvine on Ortega Highway, and the roadway was uncharacteristically useful…
Ford and Chip Ganassi campaigned two Ford GTs at the final Road Atlanta event in the 2018 IMSA GTLM series. Cars number 66 and 67 competed in the final race, and while car 67 had a chance to win the driver’s championship their fifth-place finish wasn’t quite high enough to nab that title.
But Ford’s GT did take home its first manufacturer’s title. With first place finishes in five races this season the Ford GTs only needed to cross the starting line to secure the manufacturer’s title, which meant all the Ford GT owners in attendance could relax a bit after the first lap in the 10-hour race was over.
This would normally be a Flashback Friday post but Ford recently made a big Ford GT announcement that deserves immediate coverage. Check back next Friday for another trip down memory lane of Karl’s Past Cars. For today, let’s talk about new Ford GT production numbers.
When Ford first announced production of the new Ford GT it was set at 500 units produced over 2 years (logically figuring 250 produced each year). Then the automaker was flooded with 6,500 applications in April of 2016, quickly leading Ford to commit to 4 years of production and a total of 1,000 units. The first 750 units were immediately allocated, leaving 250 available for a final round of application and review.
Yesterday Ford decided to increase new Ford GT production to 1,350 total units, extending production through 2022. For years I had heard rumors that total production could go as high as 1,250, so the new number didn’t really surprise me. What did surprise me was the length of production — 6 years.
In August of 2017 another gathering of Ford GTs and Ford GT owners came together in Park City, Utah. While this was the 12th Ford GT Owners Rally, it was the first to feature new Ford GTs alongside 2005 and 2006 models. I had every intention of driving my 2005 Ford GT to this rally. After all, it was the same road trip I’d made in my GT just 4 months earlier to attend the new Ford GT press launch.
Sadly, after planning to drive the GT my schedule shifted and I couldn’t afford the 2 extra days to make the trip up and back. I quickly purchased airplane tickets and wondered what kind of rental car I’d be stuck in while following GTs through the mountains of Utah. Then I had an idea. What if I contacted Ford and asked for one of the new Shelby GT350Rs? I hadn’t driven one yet, and I’d be showcasing the Shelby to a highly-targeted demographic of likely customers.
The new Ford GT offers a lot of performance, regardless of how it’s configured. Every GT has a carbon fiber chassis, active aerodynamics, a pushrod-activated torsion bar suspension and a 647 horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine offering up to 216 mph. That level of performance should satisfy most enthusiasts, but if you want even more performance from your Ford GT there is a “high-performance” version of this hypercar: The new Ford GT Competition Series.
This version of the Ford GT offers two advantages over the standard model. It’s got a lower total curb weight as well as a lower center of gravity. The center of gravity is reduced by using a Perspex acrylic engine hatch cover and carbon fiber prop rod instead of a standard glass cover and hydraulic strut.
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.
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