UAE: GT Showcased At Middle East Auto Show
Ford's legendary racecar, the GT, appears for the first time in the region at the Middle East International Motor Show, demonstrating Ford's passion, innovation and new technologies, while re-igniting the company's hallmarks of performance and speed.
Honoring the classic racecar, the GT40, in design and engineering ingenuity, Ford’s "Centennial Supercar" builds on the company’s product-led transformation. It is also the flagship of Ford Division’s 2004 "Year of the Car" that will include the launches of various models including the Ford Five Hundred sedan, Freestyle crossover and the legendary Mustang.
It was in France, in the mid-1960s, that this supercar came to life. A low-slung, muscular racing car built to win on the legendary Le Mans race circuit, the Ford GT project was spearheaded by company Chairman and CEO Henry Ford II. His goal was to change performance car history. And he did. The Ford GT racecar beat the world’s best in endurance racing, placing 1-2-3 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and winning the next three consecutive years.
"This new high-performance model is inspired by the vehicle that roared into the hearts of car enthusiasts everywhere during the 1960s," said Jim Benintende, managing director of Ford Middle East. "The GT is the ultimate Living Legend. It’s a true supercar with an appeal equal to that of the greatest sports cars in the world, but with the addition of a heritage no one can match. It reaches into great moments from our past, while casting a light into the future."
Ford's GT concept is more than a foot and a half longer, about a foot wider and stands nearly four inches taller than the original 40-inch high racecar, nicknamed the GT40. It was created to celebrate that great era in history and look forward to the great years to come. Its new lines draw upon and refine the best features of GT40 history and express the car’s identity through modern proportion and surface development.
The GT concept was created to foretell and test the future of exciting Ford cars to come. It was engineered from the beginning for production feasibility. First unveiled at the 2002 North American International Auto Show, the GT concept became an instant sensation. And just 45 days after its debut, Ford stunned the world again, officially announcing plans for its production version.
Ford’s SVT Engineering – which also created performance versions of the Focus, Mustang Cobra and F-Series Lightning – developed the GT's chassis and powertrain.
The GT concept casts the familiar, sleek silhouette of its namesake, yet every dimension, every curve and every line on the car is a unique reinterpretation of the original. It features a long front overhang reminiscent of 1960s-era racecars. But its sweeping cowl, subtle accent lines and fiber-optic headlamps strike a distinctly contemporary pose.
The front fenders curve over 18-inch wheels, and in the tradition of championship racers, the doors cut into the roof. Prominent on the leading edge of the rear quarter panel are functional cooling scoops that channel fresh air to the engine. The rear wheel wells, filled with 19-inch tires, define the rear of the car, while the accent line from the front cowl rejoins and finishes the car’s profile at the integrated "ducktail" spoiler.
The interior design incorporates the novel "ventilated seats" and instrument layout of the original car, with straightforward analog gauges and large tachometer. Modern versions of the original car’s toggle switches operate key systems.
Looking in through the backlight, one finds the essence of the sports car in the MOD 5.4-liter V-8 engine and its complex array of polished stainless-steel header pipes, braided stainless steel fuel lines with anodized aluminum fittings and supercharger with intercooler.
As on the historic car, the composite body panels are unstressed. Instead of steel or honeycomb-composite tubs used in the 1960s, Ford’s SVT Engineering group developed an all-new aluminum spaceframe as the foundation for the GT concept. It features four-wheel independent suspension with unequal-length control arms and longitudinally mounted spring-damper units to allow for its low profile.
Braking is handled by six-piston aluminum Alcon calipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners. When the rear canopy is opened, the rear suspension components and engine become the car’s focal point. Precision-milled aluminum suspension components and attached 19-inch tires – combined with the overwhelming presence of the V-8 powertrain – create a striking appearance and communicate the GT’s performance credentials.
The powerplant is an all-American V-8 from Ford's modular engine family. The MOD 5.4-liter
V-8 features aluminum four-valve heads, forged crankshaft, H-beam forged rods and aluminum pistons fed by a supercharger, all combining to make more than 500 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque.
These figures match or exceed those of the most powerful period GT40, a car that could handily top 200 mph on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans. Because of the supercharger and high-revving, free-breathing valvetrain, the new car produces this astounding power from an efficient 5.4-liter V-8 engine. The power is put to the road through an RBT six-speed manual transmission.
Ford GT History
Racing historians and enthusiasts are familiar with the legend behind the Ford GT, which was later nicknamed the GT40 in reference to the vehicle's overall height in inches.
The original Ford GT programme was conceived by Henry Ford II after his attempt to purchase Ferrari fell through. The Ford GT was presented to the press for the first time in 1964, and it was at Le Mans in the June of 1964 that people began referring to the sleek racer as the GT40.
Throughout its racing career, the original Ford GT Mk I and the Mk II, III and IV versions carried only the nomenclature "Ford GT" or just "Ford" on their body sides and steering wheel hub.
That innovation was born of inspiration from the company’s founder Henry Ford who, before launching Ford Motor Company in 1903, raced to victory in 1901. His car, the 1901 Sweepstakes – an ash-framed wheeled sled with a massive 8.8-liter, two-cylinder engine – was not particularly pretty or fast by today’s standards. It also handled poorly: The steering had to be manually "unwound" after each turn, as the geometry necessary for self-centering hadn't yet been conceived.
Henry Ford and his machine managed their first racing victory October 10, 1901, beating the favored competition in the "world championship" Grosse Pointe Race Track. Ford's average speed in the 10-mile event was 44.8 mph.
Sixty years later, Henry Ford II watched the Europeans dominate racing worldwide. Ford Motor Company had joined a 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association agreement prohibiting direct involvement in racing, and the ban quickly took its toll on Ford's image and its ability to engineer performance. Thus in 1962 Henry Ford II decided to withdraw from the already-dissolving pact, and the company launched a massive racing campaign that would take the 1960s by storm.
A key component of "Ford Total Performance," as the effort was called, was the quest to win the famed 24-hour Grand Prix d'Endurance at Le Mans. The Ford GT racecar changed Le Mans forever.
The Ford GT racing program culminated in June of 1969 with its last victory at Le Mans. Some cars continued to compete after 1969, but the Ford factory program came to a close. Various attempts to keep the flame burning in the form of newly available cars built from spare parts and replica parts continued through the 1970s to present, including a line of cars known as GT40 Mark Vs built by an aftermarket company, which even picked up on the chassis numbering sequence. No Ford badging appeared on these cars. The side stripes carried the name "GT40" or a "GT40 MkV" badge on the wheels.
Ford GT Key Dates In History
June 1962: Henry Ford II withdraws his company from the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on racing, beginning the Ford Total Performance commitment to motorsports.
October 1962: Ford unveils Mustang I, a concept car that brought together a group of like-minded engineers from the United States and Britain under the direction of Englishman Roy Lunn.
May 1963: Negotiations between Ford and Enzo Ferrari break down: Ford would not buy Ferrari's expertise to run its international racing program.
August 1963: In England, work begins on the Ford GT, a low, sleek coupe based loosely on Eric Broadley's Lola GT.
April 1964: Ford GT is presented to the press.
June 1964: Ford GTs become known as GT40s and race at Le Mans. All retire early due to aerodynamic instabilities and transaxle failures; nonetheless they prove fast enough for competition.
Autumn 1964: Ford hires Carroll Shelby to oversee the racing program. Shelby later installs the proven 7-liter "427" stock-car engine in what would later be called the Mark II GT40.
February 1965: Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby drive a GT40 to its first win at the Daytona 2000-km race, breaking almost every established track record.
February 1966: With the Mark II cars well-sorted, Ford GT40s, led by Miles and Ruby, take a 1-2-3 sweep at the first 24 hours of Daytona.
March 1966: At the Sebring 12-hour, Ford GT40s earn another 1-2-3 victory.
June 1966: In just its third season, Ford cruises to a 1-2-3 win at 24-hours of Le Mans, taking the "triple crown" of endurance racing.
January 1967: Testing of the all-new GT40 Mark IV begins.
March 1967: Driven by Bruce McLaren and Mario Andretti, the all-new Mark IV wins at its racing debut at Sebring, setting new speed and distance records.
June 1967: In a dramatic duel with Ferrari, Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt drove their GT40 Mark IV to victory at Le Mans, beating the Ferraris by just four laps.
June 1968: For the 1968 season, engine displacement was capped at 5 liters, and the Mark I GT40s returned, winning Le Mans under Gulf Oil sponsorship.
June 1969: In perhaps the most exciting event in the history of endurance racing, Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver scored GT40's final Le Mans win, leading the competition by just two seconds after the 24-hour race.
March 2001: Camilo Pardo is appointed as chief designer of the GT40 concept.
January 2002: Ford CEO Bill Ford unveils GT40 concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
February 2002: Ford Motor Company announces its intention to produce the Ford GT in limited numbers.