In August of 2006, almost a year to the day after I got my 2005 Ford GT, the inaugural Ford GT National Owner’s Rally was held in Dearborn, Michigan. This would be the first in an annual succession of GT Rallys that have gone on ever since, but it was the only Ford GT National Owners Rally held while the 2005/2006 Ford GTs were in still in production (2 months later, in October of 2006, Ford GT production would end).
All Rally I attendees were given a complete tour of both Saleen Special Vehicles (SSV) and the Ford Wixom plant. Of course this was the second time I’d been through the process, but I didn’t hesitate to join in and enjoyed one last look at the magic of making these incredible cars. Here is the coverage of the first-ever Ford GT National Owner’s Rally:
Ford GT National Owner’s Rally: Exotic Ford Get Together
It really hits you as you watch the 80th Ford GT pull into Ford’s World Headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan. If the thought of Ford producing a Ferrari-beating exotic sports car seemed extraordinary back in 2002, the fervor caused by the Ford GT ever since it hit showrooms and enthusiast publications in the fall of 2004 has proven unprecedented. Now, standing under the largest Blue Oval on the planet while basking in the guttural roar of more than 80 GT’s screaming around Ford’s glass tower, the full weight of what Ford has created becomes apparent.
The occasion was the Inaugural Ford GT National Owners’ Rally, held in Detroit, Michigan. Over 100 GT owners made the trek to Motor City from across the country – and across the globe. Beyond U.S. attendees (representing 30 different states), GT title holders traveled from Canada, Great Britain, Spain and New Zealand to celebrate Ford’s mid-engine mogul. No doubt many of these globe trotters felt duty-bound to attend after seeing the rally itinerary, which included a plant tour, a Woodward Dream Cruise, and a party at GT designer Camilo Pardo’s studio in downtown Detroit.
The primary force behind this event was certified GT disciple, Dave Bannister. Dave started the Ford GT Forum in August of 2005, and he’s watched the site’s membership and activity grow exponentially over the past year. Once enthusiasm for the Ford GT National Owners’ Rally hit critical mass Ford chipped in with event coordination to give rally participants some one-in-a-lifetime opportunities. A tour of both the Saleen Special Vehicles (SSV) and Wixom assembly plants provided owners a first-hand look at how their Ford GTs came together (just a few weeks before production of the GT ended).
According to Mr. Bannister, “We had tossed the idea around for awhile, and once we got everyone on board with it, it just took on a life of its own. From day one the GT owners on the forum were really enthusiastic about the event, and that was contagious. Everyone at Ford Division, SVT and SSV was just awesome to work with, and in the end it wound up being more than I could have ever hoped for.”
Ford also arranged a dinner with the entire GT Team, as well as the aforementioned photo shoot in front of Ford World Headquarters. Camilo Pardo, the man behind the GT’s exterior shape, even sacrificed his studio in downtown Detroit to host a Saturday night party.
Between the official Ford-related events, GT drivers took time out to cruise Woodward Avenue. It was the weekend before the official Woodward Dream Cruise – meaning you could still actually cruise Woodward while also enjoying the sights and sounds of classic American iron strolling the boulevard. And if you think a ZL-1 Camaro causes a stir in that environment, imagine a couple dozen GTs mixed in with the muscle cars and street rods.
As a celebration of all things GT, including a salute to the team responsible for its creation and a farewell to the car’s production status, the Inaugural GT Owners’ Rally signaled both the end — and the beginning — of something special. Plans are already underway for next year’s rally.