In September of 2015 I had an opportunity to drive an Aston Martin DB10 ahead of the James Bond movie, Spectre, premiering in U.S. theaters. This was one of 10 cars produced for the movie, none of which were street legal and one of two that weren’t destroyed during the movie shoot. I used this opportunity to produce a story and video for Forbes in which you never see my face but you do get a glimpse of my hand or arm or some other random body part.
Category: Ford GT Page 2 of 15
Ford Motor Company has made a lot of noise with the street and race versions of the modern Ford GT. In race form, the GT has racked up an impressive list of wins at tracks like Le Mans, Daytona, Laguna Seca, Silverstone, Fuji, Shanghai, etc. Over that same 2-year period the street version of the Ford GT has remained a hot commodity in the exotic sports car world.
However, whether in street or organized race trim, the new Ford GT has been configured under a litany of regulations. The street version has to abide by emissions, safety and sound regulations, all of which add weight while restricting power. Even more frustrating, the Ford GTs racing in the World Endurance Championship and IMSA series also face horsepower restrictions and weight penalties, all in an effort to “balance” the GT’s performance against lesser…uh…I mean other…competitors.
This begs the question: What if Ford built a version of the new Ford GT without any street or organized racing restrictions? What if the company simply took the GT’s basic platform and drivetrain and configured it in a way to maximize performance?
At the 2018 Fabulous Fords Forever event the standard collection of vintage Fords was supplemented by multiple new Ford GTs as well as the oldest Ford GT. Of course the oldest Ford GT isn’t even a Ford. It’s a Lola Mk6 GT, the car that formed the basis of Ford’s effort to win Le Mans after Enzo Ferrari snubbed Henry Ford II’s bid to buy his company. At the Ford booth one of the three original Lola Mk6 GT’s was parked next to a new Ford GT, and seeing the two next to each other was pretty amazing.
The Lola Mk6 GT used a mid-mounted 289 Ford V8 in a British aluminum monocoque chassis. This was an advanced design in 1962 and it laid the groundwork for Ford’s GT40 MkI design. Seeing a Lola Mk6 GT next to a new Ford GT provided an excellent perspective on the new car’s lineage.
As I’ve stated many times, the Ford GT’s design is dramatic, making it capable of looking great in just about any color. With that said, I’ve decided Liquid Red is the Ford GT’s most dramatic color. If you go on the Ford GT Configurator you can see the car in all eight factory-offered colors. And not surprisingly, the Ford GT looks dramatic in every one of those colors — on the configurator.
But I’ve seen multiple Ford GT’s in every factory color, and several non-factory colors, in person over the past 3 years. I can now say with full confidence that Liquid Red translates from the configurator to real life better than any other standard color. There’s a “shimmer” in the paint that almost doesn’t seem real.
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’s specs were as guarded as the Coke formula or Kentucky Fried Chicken’s secret recipe when the car was under development. The specs were finally, fully released during the car’s press launch in May of 2017. At that point most enthusiasts had a general idea of the primary specifications, but the below sheets offer it all up in stark black-and-white (with some gray and yellow thrown in) pixels.
Shortly after the press launch of the new Ford GT, in late April 2017, the annual Fabulous Fords Forever event happened at its traditional location, Knottsberry Farm. This event always features a massive collection of Ford vehicles, old and new. The range of models includes Thunderbirds, Broncos, Fairlanes, Torinos and as many Mustangs as I’ve ever seen.
The 2017 Fabulous Fords Forever event also had a display dedicated to the new Ford GT in racing form, including an IMSA race car and factory Ford driver Sebastian Bourdais signing autographs nearby. Sebastian is from Le Mans, France, which means he grew up watching that race in his hometown. I briefly spoke to him during the Fabulous Fords Forever event and congratulated him on winning the 2016 GTE Pro category and 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Another traditional aspect of Fabulous Fords Forever includes an appearance by famous Ford personalities, including 1960s and 1970s motorsports spokesmodel Linda Vaughn, Cleo Shelby (Carroll Shelby’s wife) and Ford GT designer Camilo Pardo. John Clinard, longstanding Ford PR executive, hosts the personalities at a lunch that includes the famous Knottsberry Farm pie desert (yum!).
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.
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.