Life After GT
By: Brad Nevin | Ford Communications Network
Photos from Autoindex.org
The Ford Shelby GR-1 concept (top) and the Shelby Cobra concept both share parts with the 2005 Ford GT. When the current run of 4500 Ford GT cars is built, one of these stellar concepts may take the GT's place as Ford's reigning supercar.
2005 Ford GT
DEARBORN, Mich., – Right now, the Ford GT, the pace car for the entire company, is rolling out of the plant and into the garages of driving enthusiasts. In all, 4500 Ford GT supercars will be built -- about 1,500 per year -- for the U.S. and Europe.
"Forty five hundred is a pretty good number for this car," said Mark McGowan, Ford GT vehicle dynamics supervisor. "You don't want to flood the market with GT. This is going to end up a cult car. It’s already considered one of the top three supercars in the world and that should make us all proud."
Life after GT may sound sad now, but that isn't to say that there won't be a different Ford supercar beating Porsches and Ferraris at the test track three years from now.
"With the Ford GT, we now have a collection of supercar components," said Chris Theodore, vice president, Advanced Product Creation. "We also have a team of engineers who know how to work fast to get the job done."
At the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Ford took the wraps off the Shelby Cobra concept, a car that shares its advanced aluminum chassis and suspension with the GT. The car won AutoWeek's Best of Show award with an evocative design, a new 6.4-liter aluminum-block V-10 with 605 horsepower and, thanks to common GT components, a level of feasibility that is already close to production-level.
"I'm sure the question on everyone’s mind at this point is, ‘Are you going to build a production version?’" said J Mays, Ford Motor Company group vice president of Global Design, during the 2004 Detroit show. "The answer is, ‘We'll see.’"
In addition to the Shelby Cobra concept, last month at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in California, Ford stunned the automotive world with the Ford Shelby GR-1, a beautifully-designed, front-engined, two-seat, fastback supercar based on the architecture of the Ford GT.
“The (first) Ford Shelby Cobra concept was a small step in our plans for the Ford GT supercar architecture and our relationship with Carroll Shelby,” said Mays. “And the Ford Shelby GR-1 is a giant leap toward the future.”
Based on the Cobra concept, the GR-1 takes the performance car genre in a new direction combining modern sculptured surfaces in a sleek muscular fastback design. The result is a forward-looking supercar with attention grabbing Ford presence and Carroll Shelby inspiration. The GR-1's V-10 engine pushes unashamedly upwards into the hood’s surface exposing prominent bulges -- a potent reminder of the car’s powerful performance -- while air vents at the base of the front screen allow the motor to breathe.
The Shelby Cobra and the GR-1 concepts both share parts with the GT to help boost the business case and assure enthusiasts that any future Ford performance car will live up to the lofty expectations set by the Ford GT team.
"Who knows where this is going?" pondered McGowan. "Just because GT ends in a few years doesn't mean there's nothing cool coming behind that."