One year into my Ford GT ownership and I had almost gotten used to the door design and how to avoid doing the “GT Limbo” as many owners call it. Some complaints about seat comfort had come up, the need to carefully clean each engine vent made for demanding detailing, and a Southern California GT Rally proved fun, even though I went in my 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE. The odometer almost hit 5,000 miles in August of 2006.

2005 Ford GT Seat

2005 Ford GT seat uses a retro design

Ford GT Seat Can Cause Discomfort

August 2, 2006 at 4,820 miles

The question of the Ford GT’s seat comfort has been raised by more than one occupant. Most feel it is fine for at least a few hours of driving, if not more, but some have experienced lower back pain caused by the stiff seam between the seatback panels. To me, the claim initially seemed dubious, but once it was pointed out I quickly discovered that, well…yes, that seam can feel a bit intrusive — especially once you’re “looking” for it…

Before this complaint, it was mostly an “ignorance is bliss” situation. But now that it’s on the brain, at least for some folks, they can’t not notice it when riding in the exotic Ford’s seats.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Engine Vents

The Ford GT’s engine vents require a lot of attention during detailing

Ford GT Detailing Has Some Devils

August 4, 2006 at 4,851 miles

Cleaning my Ford GT is relatively easy. Obviously I don’t run it through the automatic wash at the local Shell station, but a couple bucks in quarters at the local coin-op place gets the job done. The car’s smooth lines make it straightforward to dry off in all but a few places. One of those places involves the vents on the rear engine cover…

Like all mid-engine cars, engine cooling is one of the GT’s bigger challenges. While I’ve never had a problem I’ve heard reports of cars running hot during track events. Ford tried to minimize this problem by incorporating an effective ventilation system into the engine cover. It seems to work well under all but the aforementioned track conditions, but it also adds a bit of complexity to the cleaning process. If you want to avoid dingy or water-spotted vents on the rear hatch (two trademarks that show up extra well if you have the optional white longitudinal stripe), you have to rub down each vent individually with a soft cloth during the drying process. With two rows of 25 vents each, that’s 50 tiny areas you have to address during each wash. Plus there are the two lowered areas on either side of the 50 vents, each of which also tends to pool water and require extra mopping with a towel. But, these are the burdens one must be willing to bear when caring for the GT. So far the extra work hasn’t slowed down its usage — or its regular washings.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Door Pull

The Ford GT’s door pulls come from the engine cradle

Ford GT’s Door Pulls are Shared with the Engine Cradle

August 7, 2006 at 4,863 miles

After closing the door on my Ford GT for the past 12 months I noticed something a bit odd — the interior door pull looked strangely familiar. I was certain I’d seen it somewhere before. It was obviously made of real metal, but the type of metal and the longitudinal relief running the length of the handle looked too specific for a simple door pull. I know the Enzo Ferrari uses much of that car’s structure as an accent to the cabin design…

Then I checked the Ford GT’s engine compartment and confirmed that, indeed, the door pull handle is simply a section of the aluminum structure that makes up the engine cradle. Seems Ford found a way to cut costs while simultaneously adding a cool bit of mechanical appreciation to the GT’s cabin design. These are the kind of design elements that define a great automobile.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Door

The Ford GT’s door design can make for tricky entry/egress

Ford GT Often Requires “The GT Limbo”

August 9, 2006 at 4,894 miles

Exotic cars are supposed to be quirky, so the door design of the Ford GT is more tolerable than if it was on, say, a Toyota Camry. Plus the GT has a reason for this design that dates back to its Le Mans heritage. Do these reasons justify the bizarre entry/exit ritual (I’ve heard it referred to as “the GT Limbo”) that must be performed every time you go for a drive/ride? The answer depends largely on your parking situation. If you can park in a location that allows the doors to fully open (nearly 90 degrees) the door’s shape becomes a non-issue…

In fact it’s actually easier to get into the GT than the average exotic because you don’t have to bend low under the roof. But if you can’t open the doors wide you’re forced to crawl into the car like a three-year-old at the local McDonald’s Play Land. It hasn’t proven a serious inconvenience for me yet, but I know of several other GT owners who have banged their head on the door, including one Motor Trend staffer who had to get stitches during a comparison test involving the GT last year.

Like I said, exotic cars have quirks.

2005 Ford GT Long Term Belly Pan

Ford GT belly pan with “GT” script most will never see

Ford GT has a “GT” Emblem You Might Never See

August 14, 2006 at 4,923 miles

Unless you’ve got both a Ford GT and your own vehicle lift you’ll probably never see this particular Easter Egg. It’s underneath the vehicle, on the central belly pan that smooths the car’s underside out for high-speed stability. If you can get under the car and look up you’ll see the letters “GT” formed in the ribbed pattern used to strengthen the belly pan’s metal (tiny bends, or “ribs,” in large pieces of otherwise flat metal help the metal resist bending). An additional Easter Egg related to this item — the first three “production” GTs built for the 2004 model year and the Centennial celebration in June 2003 (all three are still owned by Ford) do not have this “GT” pattern in their belly pans…

2005 Ford GT Long Term Door Scuff Plate

Ford GT door scuff plates live up to their name

Ford GT Scuff Plates, Sadly, Earn Their Name

August 16, 2006 at 4,961 miles

I’m trying to exercise the proper level of care while driving my Ford GT, and that includes watching my feet (and my head) when getting in and out. But the inevitable foot-scrape-along-the-door is just a part of life, especially when dealing with a low down sports cars. I’ve acquired some scuffs along the door’s brushed aluminum trim, but I have yet to attack it with a cleaner of any kind (or even just soap and water). I’ll let you know how my efforts to remove these blights fare…

2005 Ford GT Long Term Diffuser

2005 Ford GT rear diffuser requires careful parking

Ford GT has a Rear Diffuser that’s Easy to Scrape

August 21, 2006 at 4,980 miles

A while back I mentioned that the Ford GT’s front ground clearance is actually better than most exotics I’ve driven. You really have to hit a pretty substantial bump, or an extreme driveway angle, to scrape anything on the front of the car. Out back, however, it’s a different story. The rear diffuser that helps keep the car snugged down on the road at speeds above 150 mph are just slightly lower than your average parking block…

Normally this wouldn’t be a big issue, except that because they are on the back of the car you have absolutely no idea how close they are to the parking block when backing into a space. Basically, you have to either get out of the car constantly to see how close you are getting, or just park by Braille. Normally, when backing into a space, I use the former technique. But a few times I’ve unintentionally gone with the latter…

2005 Ford GT SoCal Owners Rally

2005 Ford GT Southern California Rally with my Dodge Challenger

Ford GT Owners Rally, In a Dodge Challenger

August 28, 2006 at 4,993 miles

I participated in a Ford GT owners rally this weekend. The route started in Pacific Palisades and wound its way up the coast to Santa Barbara. There were 15 cars in attendence, even though I didn’t bring my GT. I wanted to attend the rally but so did the wife and kids, and they don’t all fit in the GT…

I was looking for some quality time with them because I was gone most of Saturday on a press trip. So at the last minute I ditched the GT for my 1970 Plum Crazy Dodge Challenger R/T SE. I got the air conditioning fully functional a week earlier after installing a new heater control valve, so what better way to test it all out? The great thing about Ford GT owners is that they are all serious car folks and, unlike the owner groups for various other exotics, they love anything with four wheels and a personality. I just stayed at the back of the line while cruising and didn’t park near them when we got to our Santa Barbara stopping point (didn’t want to mess up any of their photo ops). But several of the participants were very interested in the Challenger. They asked many questions and wanted to hear the story of finding it. And it was a bonus to see the kids get excited about the many colored Ford GTs we were driving with. Nice to know you can have this kind of fun with a Ford GT, even when you aren’t driving a Ford GT. Oh, and the Dodge Challenger’s A/C worked great!