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.