Ford delivered a bombshell at NAIAS today by redefining its sportiest ever model (the GT) for a second time, incorporating vastly improved and active aerodynamics, stripping weight through the extensive use of lightweight carbon fiber composites plus aluminum front and rear subframes, and delivering a mid-mounted, twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 producing more than 600 horsepower. Though no figures have been placed on the car's overall weight as yet, Ford promises the GT will have "one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car."
The new GT has been slated for production in 2016 and promises to once more give the European exotics some serious hurry-up, just as the original GT40 did when it famously went after Ferrari's endurance crown and won the Le Mans 24 Hour race four times in a row from 1966 to 1969.
It's now 14 years since Ford Chairman and CEO Bill Ford announced at the same show in 2002 that Ford would build the GT40 to help celebrate its 100th anniversary.
The rear-wheel-drive. mid-engined GT will begin production late next year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40's legendary 1-2-3 finish at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Sadly, it will only be available in "select global markets" and the recipient countries have not yet been defined.
Designed as a showcase for its next-generation EcoBoost engine and lightweight construction technologies, the GT boasts the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever and is one of at least 12 new Ford Performance vehicles promised over the next four years.
"As we at Ford drive innovation into every part of our business, it's worth remembering that our first innovation as a company was not in a laboratory, but on the racetrack," said Mark Fields, Ford president and chief executive officer, referring to Henry Ford's win of a 1901 car race that inspired financial backers to invest in his company. "We are passionate about innovation through performance and creating vehicles that make people's hearts pound."
The all-new GT supercar features an active rear spoiler which adjusts its height and pitch angle depending on speed, conditions and driver input – currently only a handful of supercars offer active aerodynamics and although no price has yet been set for the GT, it certainly won't cost anywhere near as much as the likes of top-of-the-line Ferraris, Paganis and Bugattis with the ability to morph between high downforce and low drag as the mood suits them.
Weight is the enemy of all performance vehicles, and Ford has done an admirable job with carbon fiber composite construction used extensively in the GT. The full carbon fiber driver/passenger cell has aluminum front and rear subframes and then structural carbon fiber body panels are also employed to ensure a very light but tight package. The GT will also have "active racing-style torsion bar and pushrod suspension", with adjustable ride height.
The GT and GT40 were cars defined by their big V8 engines so it's interesting to see Ford moving to a V6 engine for the third coming of the name. The powerplant is based on the same twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine architecture used in Ford's IMSA Daytona Prototype endurance cars which took three wins (including the 12 Hours of Sebring) in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014.
The engine uses dual (both port and direct ) fuel-injection, plus a low-friction roller-finger-follower valve-train and will drive through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
The 20-inch wheels are shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires featuring a unique compound and structure designed specifically for the Ford GT and carbon ceramic brake discs are used on all four wheels.
The two-seat cockpit is accessed by upward-swinging doors, and features driver and passenger seats integrated directly into the carbon fiber passenger cell. This configuration significantly reduces seating hardware and weight, and provides a consistent and Ford claims the arrangement offers a "direct sensory connection to the chassis." The fixed seating means that Ford has employed adjustable pedals and steering column to accommodate a very wide range of driver statures.
An F1-style steering wheel integrates all necessary driver controls, creating a stalkless steering column that allows uncluttered access to the transmission paddle-shift controls. A fully digital and configurable instrument cluster provides a wealth of driver-focused data. The display is configurable for multiple driving environments and different driving modes.