My Ford GT suffered its first real damage in December of 2006. Twice. The initial damage was caused by road debris that punctured a tire and also took a small nick out of the bodywork. The second instance happened just 2 days later, in the form of a nasty rock chip in the windshield. But that’s what happens when you drive your car versus sticking it under glass. Speaking of driving, the odometer crossed 7,000 miles this month.

2005-Ford-GT-Long-Term A-Pillar-Gouging

The A-pillar metal and passenger door weatherstripping (pictured) showed signs of gouging

Ford GT Door Gouges

December 4, 2006 at 6,286miles

Something weird is going on with the GT’s passenger-side A-pillar. There’s an unmistakable “gouging” in the Midnight Blue paint where the A-pillar’s weatherstriping meets the painted section of the passenger door. It’s almost as if gravel got in between the weatherstriping and door frame, and then chewed into the door each time it was shut. There’s even a white, chalky dust on the weatherstriping (shown in picture), but no actual “chunks” of anything large enough to cause the gouging are present (maybe whatever it was has all been ground into dust by now…). The upside is that this is an area you normally don’t see (certainly not when the door is closed), so the damage is more a curiosity than anything else…

The driver’s side door and A-pillar shows no damage or chalky dust whatsoever.

Very weird.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Climate Control

The Ford GT’s climate controls have a very upscale look

Ford GT has Lexus-Like Climate Controls

December 7, 2006 at 6,430 miles

A friend of mine, after driving the Ford GT, commented that, “It’s almost like a Lexus inside.” That statement may be a bit strong, as the parts bin switchgear and hard plastic on the inner door panels don’t really feel up to Toyota’s premium brand. However, there are aspects of the GT that could have been pulled from a premium luxury brand. One of these is the climate control panel on the center console. First, the console itself is made of magnesium, so you could say these controls start on a good foundation. Adding to the upscale effect are dials made from polished metal that offer a solid, reassuring feel when you rotate them…

Finally, the lighting of these dials is simply majestic, with soothing white light emanating from the dials’ circumference. They even use staggered light levels to slowly brighten up when you turn on the headlights. Lexus interior designers would approve.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Flat Time

A nasty piece of metal debris punctured the Ford GT’s tire

Ford GT Gets a Flat Tire

December 9, 2006 at 6,985 miles

This weekend a friend of mine got his first chance to profile a bit in the Ford GT. He took it to a car show and this is his account:

Crystal Cove had been a weekly Orange County tradition for umpteen years. Every Saturday at 7:00, all manner of exotic, muscular, and just plain weird cars gathered together for a couple of hours, then scattered as the local businesses that used the parking lot opened for business. Then it all ended.

But not for long. Ford’s Premier Automotive Group and Mazda North American Operations stepped in to give the show a new home in their shared parking lot in nearby Irvine, California. Now named Cars & Coffee, it was the the obvious place for me to get my morning Joe–now that I had something worthy to bring, that is.

And the car show did not disappoint. A multitude of Ferraris, Alfas, Fiats, Corvettes, Porsches, Lambos, Jags, NSXs, Lotuses (Loti?), Minis, Saleens (S7, F-150, Mustangs), Cobras, a few hot rods, a US-spec Ariel Atom, and a few other Ford GTs, rumbled into the tree-lined parking lot. It’s very informal. “Entrants” and spectators can all wander in for free. Coffee and donuts and bagels and fast cars to look at. What could be better?

After a couple of hours, I’m cruising home at 70mph on the 5 freeway. “BANG! THUMp, THUmp, THump, Thump, thump, tick, tick, tick.” Suddenly, I’m looking for a place to pull over, RIGHT NOW, as I gradually nurse the GT over to the side of the freeway with a left-rear devoid of air. Luckily, about 300 yards is all I need to find a very wide, and paved, place to get 25 feet out of lanes and start making telephone calls.

From the noise it made, I’m expecting the worst. But after climbing out, I see that the tire stayed in one piece, and the wheel never touched asphalt. I never did see anything coming at me. As near as I can tell, as I changed lanes from right to left, doing a head check as I prepared to exit, another car a few lengths ahead was doing the opposite, moving from right to left as he merged onto the freeway. Whether his car kicked up the piece of debris I hit, or merely blocked my view of it, I’ll never know.

Since my wife camps with HER coffee at the computer most mornings, right away I call to ask for internet help in locating a tire. Make that two tires, as both rears are down to the wear bars and were due for it anyway. P315/40ZR19 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires might be hard to find on a Saturday morning, but there isn’t a spare on board one of these things, and the hole is too big for the on-board flat repair kit, so it’s my only shot.

About ten minutes later, the wife calls back with good news. Villa Ford, about 6 miles straight ahead of my position, will have one, perhaps two, in an hour. Service writer Steve Gailey is expecting me. Now that I know where I want to go, I call AAA for a tow. The dispatcher not only knows what a Ford GT is, he knows that it needs a flatbed even before I request it. From repeated experience maybe? I hope not.

In 25 minutes, I see Jesus. Jesus the tow truck driver. Jesus likes supercars, and to prove it, he keeps a plastic model of a Jaguar XJ220 on his dashboard. No, I am not making this up! As you might expect, Jesus treats me and the Ford GT right. In a few minutes, and judicious use of 2×4 and 4×4 shims to keep the GT’s splitters from dragging, we’re loaded and on the road.

Jesus and I learned something: if you screw the tow eye all the way in, it sits at such an angle that his winch hook would have rubbed the paint on the adjacent scoop. Loosen the eye about 1/8 of a turn to orient in horizontally, and Jesus’ tow hook will assume a vertical position, unable to mar the paint. We wrapped it with a rag anyway for insurance. On to Villa Ford!

Stay tuned for part 2!

2005 Ford GT Long Term New Tire

The Ford GT wearing brand new rear tires

Ford GT Gets New Rear Tires

December 10, 2006 at 6,985 miles

In our last episode, I’d struck unseen debris in the Ford GT, and had suffered what tire engineers call a “rapid deflation.” Then I was visited by Jesus, who loaded the GT and myself onto and into his tow truck, respectively. Through it all, I kept getting Jeep Commander flashbacks, from the time I had to have that one flatbedded in for a new starter during summer vacation.

Now we’re at Villa Ford, reversing the process and unloading the GT in the service area. Steve Gailey, the service writer my wife spoke with on the phone, informs me that the tires, two of them, are on their way. After about half an hour, the only guy at the dealership this Saturday morning who can work on a GT is finishing up another project. But Danny takes a moment to inform me that jacking the low side up will be a problem–unless I have a set of spacers on hand. Do I?

2005 Ford GT Long Term GTSaver

The GTSaver is a plastic puck that protects the Ford GT’s underbelly pans

Then a light goes on. When Karl gave me my preflight check on the car, he casually showed me a bag filled with something he called “GTsavers,” prefacing it with, “You won’t be needing these, but…” Apparently GTsavers are machined hockey-puck-sized nylon spacers that fit into holes in the underbody jack points, ensuring that jack loads can only go into the chassis at the specified point.

Danny, the mechanic, was thrilled when he saw these babies, and it was clear that without them, he’d have had a hard time. If you have a Ford GT, believe me, you need these. Get them at www.gtsaver.com and carry them in your car. Jay, the guy who sells them, includes a laminated card that shows where the jack points are and lists the lug nut torque.

Two minutes later, and the back of the car was in the air and the offending flat tire was coming off. What we saw inside wasn’t pretty.

Oddly, the end that pushed itself through the tire isn’t even a little bit sharp. It’s more than 5/8″ in diameter, and blunt. If must have been bouncing when I hit it, and perfectly wedged itself between the tire and road at an angle.

A scary-looking piece was sticking out of the tire. And it explained where all that noise had come from…

That protruding bit had taken a small chunk out of the fender lip. It isn’t too visible unless you’re looking right at it, but it’s there.

In about 30 minutes, the GT had two new rears. From this angle, the one everyone sees, you can’t really see the nick.

The P315/40ZR19 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires were cheaper than I expected. Even though I was a captive customer, desperate on a Saturday, I paid $349 apiece for them. Tire rack wants $332, so the dealer price with one hour’s notice isn’t shabby. With mounting, balancing, tire disposal fees and taxes, the grand total came out to $800.01. By the time I got home, it was 1:30pm–about 4 hours late.

So how was YOUR Saturday morning?

2005 Ford GT Long Term Christmas Lights

The 2005 Ford GT has few flaws and makes for holiday cheer

Ford GT Reaction from a New Driver

December 11, 2006 At 7,049 miles

The 2005 Ford GT is now safely tucked away in Karl’s garage and the keys are no longer in my care. Waaahhhh!

A few observations:

I’ve never gotten the sort of looks I got in the GT in any of the other cars I’ve taken home. In an Elise or Exige, for example, I’d get stares, but there was always a component of what-the-hell-is-that bewilderment mixed in. This is different. People KNOW what this is, or if they don’t, they know that they should know, so they fake it. Awe. Double-takes. Whiplash. I saw it all. Give them a downshift and a squeeze of the throttle, and they hoot. But it gets annoying on the freeway. Several times I wanted to change lanes, and the guy pacing along next to the Ford GT wouldn’t move on so I could get over. I became an unwilling rolling chicane.

The GT is a pussycat on the freeway, even when things slow waaaay down. The clutch action is sure and not overly heavy. Our BMW 330i’s clutch is much heavier than this one. And the shifter is firm and precise. The gearing is very tall, making stop-and-go traffic a bit of a pain, as I don’t want to burn up the clutch by slipping it too much. But I don’t want to stall it either. But with care and patience, it’s not a problem.

Coffee was a recurring theme, as the GT turned over 7,000 miles as my wife and I pulled into Java Joe’s, the local caffeine pusher in town. Care in selecting a parking space is required, as the doors, with their integral authentic wrap-around roof panels, need to open wide for me to get in or out without having to limbo. As I could only manage two-feet of door opening space in my garage, I DID have to crouch and crawl to get in and out at home.

The seats are the weakest link in this car. Yes, they look sorta heritage, but I feel like a taco in these things, folded down the middle by misshapen shoulder wings. I’ve driven plenty of race cars, and sat in numerous racing seats, but these are just wrong. And those holes leave waffle imprints and pressure points. As much as my wife has been DYING to ride in one, she was done in twenty minutes because of the shape of them. I’d remove and replace these babies, saving them in the rafters and reinstalling them only when I was ready to sell mine at Barret-Jackson in 30-years time.

A heritage drawback that I will live with is the forward visibility. The a-pillar intrudes and the roof-line is low. But I don’t care. It has to be this way in order to pull off the GT40 look that is so essential to this car. But, when I get mine (one can always dream) and replace the seats as mentioned above, I’ll try to drop them as much as possible, which would also help keep my scalp from touching the roof. I’m that (holds fingers a half-inch apart) close to needing a Gurney bubble.

When it comes right down to it, the biggest drawback to this car is that it isn’t mine.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Windshield Crack

The Ford GT’s low windshield makes rock chips hard to avoid

Ford GT Suffers a Rock to the Windshield

December 13, 2006 at 7,065

Apparently the Gods of Automotive Damage didn’t feel our recent adventures with road debris and a flat tire provided sufficient “fun” for our Ford GT. So, as a quick-fire follow up they tossed a rock into the car’s windshield two days later. Now there’s a lovely “star” in the glass, just to the left of the driver’s main sight line. Yes, we’re looking into a spot repair, but we’ve also researched the cost of a new windshield…

So far the number coming back is $2,200 ($700 for the windshield and $1,500 to remove the entire front clip and put it in). Hopefully we’ll have an “after” shot to show you soon…

2005 Ford GT Windshield Repair

A Ford GT windshield repair costs far less than a windshield replacement

Ford GT Windshield Gets Fixed…sort of…

December 26, 2006 at 7,100 miles

The good news is the former rock “star” on the Ford GT’s windshield is hardly noticeable. The bad news is the former rock “star” on the Ford GT’s windshield is hardly noticeable. I’m actually quite impressed with how effective the repair was, but as Windshield Repair Guru Rich told me after examining the damage, “That was a good one. Whatever it was hit pretty hard and took a sizable chunk of glass out of the windshield.”

The repair took about one hour and cost $75, which is a fraction of the time and money required to replace the windshield…

2005 Ford GT Windshield Repaired

Repairing the windshield didn’t fully remove the damage

I’d say the damage now looks like a larger-than-usual windshield pit, a huge improvement over the unmistakable star-patterned crack it started out as. This is from inside the car. From outside the “pit” is nearly invisible. Without having it specifically pointed out you’d never see it, and even with careful examination it would look like a tiny scratch.

But it’s still not quite an exotic-car-caliber repair. As a $75 gamble it seemed like a worthwhile avenue to explore. Now, where’s our local Ford dealer’s number…