Let's Talk Cars, Motorcycles and Other Life-Changing Events

Month: April 2018

I Get the Word on My 2005 Ford GT Allocation, and the Word is Good!

2005 Ford GT Rear Red

2005 Ford GT Press Car in Fort Bragg, California, April 2004

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.”

That Damn Ford GT Super Bowl Commercial

Ford GT Commercial

The Ford GT commercial meant this car’s secret was out.

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.

My First Drive In The New 2005 Ford GT

2005 Ford GT Early Test Car

2005 Ford GT Early Test Car

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.

A New 2005 Ford GT is in Development

Ford GT40 Concept Clay Design Front

Ford GT40 clay design work-in-progress (Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company)

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…

Ford GT40 Concept Design Review

Ford GT40 concept design review (Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company)

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:

Awesome Ford GT40 Concept Debuts…Now What?

Ford GT40 Concept Car

Ford GT40 Concept Car in Gulf livery. (Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company)

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?

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