The Ford Shelby GR-1 concept is the third high-performance concept car in two years inspired by the heritage of racing legend Carroll Shelby.
Ford Shelby GR-1 hints at the future
Execs may look to build second supercar
By Eric Mayne / The Detroit News
Ford Motor Co.’s storied relationship with racing legend Carroll Shelby has inspired the development of a third high-performance concept car in two years — the Ford Shelby GR-1.
Unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance Thursday, the two-seat fastback features the same dynamic underpinnings as the Ford Shelby Cobra shown at the North American International Auto Show in January.
It also shares engineering advances the automaker developed for the 2002 GT40 concept car, which led to the 2005 production Ford GT supercar.
“The Ford Shelby Cobra concept was a small step in our plans for the Ford GT supercar architecture,” said J Mays, group vice president of design at Ford. “The Ford Shelby GR-1 is a giant leap toward the future.”
The automaker hasn’t confirmed plans to market a second supercar. But Ford executives have said the company’s investment in the GT warrants at least one more program based on its design.
Ford began shipping the $140,000 GT to dealers last month and it’s already sold out, underscoring the viability of the exotic car market — even during uncertain economic times.
DaimlerChrysler AG unveiled a two-seat supercar — the ME Four Twelve — at the Detroit auto show. And there are signs that it will go into production.
“The sports car market is not going to go away, no matter what happens,” said George Saridakis, the designer of the GR-1. “You’re beginning to see cars which have got a little bit more soul and some history associated to them.”
The GR-1, which features a 605-horsepower, V-10 engine, was built atop a spare chassis originally assembled during the Shelby Cobra’s development. It’s both a tribute to Carroll Shelby and a nod to time-honored sports car proportions, Saridakis said.
“What this car represents is a truly classic sporty proportion — the engine really up front, the wide wheels, the track, the short wheelbase, the relatively short overhang.”
Saridakis spent his early childhood in Greece before moving to Scotland.
“I have an affinity to both the vibrant and passionate Mediterranean culture and also the more restrained yet dynamic Scots,” said Saridakis, 33, who works out of Ford’s advanced product creation center in California.
A graduate of Glasgow University with a degree in aeronautical engineering, Saridakis said the GR-1 “has been in the back of my head” since he was a boy.
“When you’re growing up and you have a passion for cars like I do, all you do every day in school is draw cars on your jotter,” Saridakis said.
“George produced this completely resolved sketch — the best I’ve seen in 10 years,” Mays said.
Normally, initial sketches are reworked repeatedly before a clay model is made.