The 2002 GT and GT-P now carry more overt links to the original vehicle following feedback from passionate Ford fans after the concept vehicles were first revealed at the Sydney Motor Show last October.
Ford Design Director Simon Butterworth said the company had listened to feedback from the show before signing off on the final FPV design.
“The GT show car was voted the most popular exhibit at the Sydney Motor Show, so we came away confident that we had hit the mark with the design. However, there was a small but passionate group who wanted to see more traditional performance cues from earlier GT models,” he said.
“As a result, the decision was made to offer a choice of exterior details to meet the needs of both groups of enthusiasts,” Mr Butterworth said.
The GT exterior is the more aggressive hero car consistent with the GT name.
It is the next step above the XR8 for the performance buyer who wants the definitive expression of Ford performance.
With this in mind, designers settled on an iconic Ford muscle car styling feature.
“Ford in the US had just revived the GT stripe on its new GT40 concept in a simple twin parallel stripe format with the model name in the graphics. We had already established that they suited the FPV GT perfectly. Sydney Motor Show feedback confirmed that the time was right for a revival of this iconic GT feature.
“We were also aware of the wild colour and stripe combinations of early GT models so we decided to let our designers have some fun. For example, as an option, you can now order a GT in Winter White with Vivid Blue stripes and matching thread in the seats. Or Phantom, a deep purple, with orange stripes. Other stripe colours include silver and black.
“The new stripes add a fun, performance element to the GT. They also make the car look meaner and more aggressive by adding a stronger horizontal aspect. The stripes extend around the front corners to the lower lights to continue this more aggressive stance. As with early GT models, owners can order their GT without the stripes, in which case we add a separate GT badge to the rear doors," Butterworth said.
“To complement the race car appearance given by the stripes and the other performance elements of the concept car, we added an additional tri-slot intake in the front bumper splitter. Both the upper and lower grilles are filled with matt black mesh for a competition look. The lower mesh grille carries FPV lettering as a reminder of the GT’s performance engineering.
“As part of our review of the bonnet design, we extended also the bonnet power bulge. We wanted to further emphasise the additional power and take the integrated factory build look to the next level from the concept car.
“At the rear, we added a stronger more structural look to the large rear spoiler by adding a centre support spar. The GT is a strong, powerful car and the rear spoiler now reinforces that impression,” he said.
The GT is fitted with an enhanced version of the open five-spoke wheel design revealed on the Motor Show concept.
“A five spoke wheel is the preferred design for most modern race cars and the GT wheel is closely related to the new design fitted to our own BA V8 Supercar.
“This open wheel design allowed us to enhance the appearance and add more detail to the grooved GT brakes. We specified a heat resistant Ford blue enamel for the front and rear callipers and FPV identification. The optional Brembo brake package features red callipers and Brembo identification to distinguish them from the FPV brakes.
“These changes have further enhanced the race bred looks and performance positioning of the new GT.”
The GT-P has been designed to reflect its premium positioning without compromising the GT performance look.
Mr Butterworth said buyers at this level tended to want more subtle styling cues.
“We decided to leave the stripes off the GT-P but owners who want to be noticed can specify special GT-P stripes that incorporate the GT-P graphic,” he said.
There are, however, other distinguishing design cues.
“The upper and lower grille mesh features a satin alloy finish that also appears on the slots at the rear of the side skirts. The front splitter is solid and finished in a contrasting accent colour for a more substantial appearance.
“The GT-P’s unique seven spoke alloy wheels with their special diamond turned finish and brighter exterior highlights clearly position the GT-P as the premium vehicle in the range.”
Ford Performance Vehicles Managing Director David Flint gave Ford Australia Design Director Simon Butterworth and his team a crystal clear direction for the new FPV range.
“An FPV model must have superior performance, engineering enhancements and a fun to drive factor based on the expertise and technology gained from Ford’s and Prodrive’s international race and rally experience. It must have the purposeful look and unmistakable sound of a true Ford performance car,” said Flint.
Butterworth said it was his job to translate this direction into a new look.
"After the engineers had fit all the technology and performance into it they could and placed the wheels where they needed to be, it had to look like we came along and shrink-wrapped it.
"It’s almost as if we machined the body off and stopped as we hit the wheels. Again, it is a look driven by our V8 Supercar where everything is optimised for racing."
Butterworth calls it the 'blue blood' factor.
“It's the blue blood that runs through the veins of the biggest, strongest, most integrated Aussie muscle car on the road. You won’t mistake it for anything other than a Ford. But it’s also a Ford designed to deliver the benefit of all the technical expertise that has gone into it.
Recognising, not recycling, the GT heritage
Butterworth said there was considerable pressure from Ford fans to revive signature design features of the original Falcon GTs.
"The design of the GT had to recognise the rich heritage that comes with the GT brand, without compromising on the integrity of the design.
"If the signature design features of the early GTs were reduced to gimmicks that didn’t work, the design would lose its honesty.
“The graphics of the FPV range are therefore linked to the GT heritage but in a contemporary way which people can recognise without recycling the past. This involved reviving the strong road-hugging aspect of the early GT models.
"The power bulge in FPV bonnets is a modern interpretation of the shaker, and a functional element designed to meet the engineering needs of today’s Boss engine. The bulge is not dressed up because there is no functional reason to do that.
“The lights in the front spoiler are another example. When auxiliary lights were first fitted to a GT in 1968, they were a separate accessory item fitted as standard in the original Falcon grille to go with the GT’s extra performance.
"The new lights have the detail of a traditional accessory auxiliary light. It looks as if they have been added later for high performance road use, which is exactly why we added them," Butterworth said.
"All in all, the styling must signal that this is a fantastic driver’s car with all the dynamics that go with it. You need to be able to see that at first glance when it comes up behind you.
“It has a strong Ford DNA performance signature, with the trapezoidal grille at the top and the large inverted grille below it. We have achieved this through increasing the volume and widening the lower regions, which are actually much wider than other BA Falcon models.
“This extra width reinforces that look of strength and width by taking the eye out to the corners of the front and rear sections.”
Butterworth said his team created the Ford Performance Vehicles range hand in hand with the race car being designed for the Ford racing teams.
“We feel passionate that this work is an integral part of what the Ford design studio is all about. From the BA Falcon product, we already knew all the things we wanted to get into the FPV range.
"We wanted our design staff to be involved in race car work, all the FPV work and all the FCSD (Ford Customer and Service Division) body options so we could maintain the integrity of the original design at all levels.
“The race car and FPV range design work is like the honey that gels and creates the level of excitement in the studio. It creates a fever which helps generate something special right through the range which is why we were so keen to get the whole process back in-house,” Butterworth says.
V8 Supercar breeding
Young Ford designers Peter Elliott and Nick Hogios – who jointly developed the look for the race car and the Ford Performance Vehicles range – were conscious of the shared priorities of a high performance road and race car.
“The large front lower air intake had to be functional as both the race car and the FPV range needed all the air intake area we could give them. The front auxiliary lights look independent as we added them for road use after we locked in the race car front spoiler," Elliott says.
“We removed some length from the front end compared to the Falcon XR models and together with the lower front spoiler, the side profile matches the shorter and more purposeful stance of the race car. The front centre intakes are based on the race car’s splitter design while the rear styling is based on the race car’s diffuser idea.
“We connected the wheel arches with a strong side rocker section to generate the same visual strength of the race car’s aero package. The rear slots in the side skirt provide a strong visual connection with the race car which also has its exhaust outlets in this area.”
“Five, seven and nine spoke alloys always make a dynamic-looking wheel. Wheels with an even number of spokes never look as dynamic as their spokes continue through the centre. Because the spokes in an odd number don’t run past the centre, they keep your eye outside the centre of the wheel so the wheel always looks dynamic.
“This is why we chose five spokes for the GT and Pursuit ute, and seven spokes for the GT-P. The seven spoke GT-P wheel has the powerful arched spokes of a classic Minilite alloy wheel which were often fitted to Ford race cars but the wide diamond-turned surface on each spoke places it in today’s context.”
Certain hero colours will be kept exclusive to the Falcon XR and FPV range.
For the new range, Phantom (deep purple), Citric Acid (bright lime green-yellow) and Blood Orange have been kept exclusive to the upper performance stream. They join Blueprint, a bright metallic blue introduced earlier this year.
“We want to own the colour blue and we will always have exciting blues for our performance range in keeping with the FPV association with the Ford blue.
"It is an extension of the blue blooded passion that is running through the design, the engineering and the people from Ford and FPV who build them."