The Ford Model T and the 2005 Ford GT may not seem to have much in common. After all, one put the world on wheels, the other only will put a select few on wheels.
But both cars are revolutionary models for their time. The Model T opened the door in the early 20th century for mass production and affordable vehicles. The Ford GT, when it goes on sale in 2004, will pave the way for a new way of developing vehicles at Ford.
"The Ford GT is our Centennial car - it reaches into great moments from our past, while casting a light into the future," said Chris Theodore, vice president, Ford North American Product Development.
The Ford GT engineering team is employing unique technologies and processes to bring the car to market in record-breaking time. Most notably, the team is harnessing the latest in computer technology in the design and engineering development phases.
This computer reliance is expected to cut the team's prototype requirements from about 100 vehicles to under 20.
"We as engineers generally want to prove out computer models with physical prototypes," said John Coletti, Ford's director of Special Vehicle Team Programs. "We had to take a leap of faith with the Ford GT because we're not only building a supercar, we're looking at new ways of doing business."
The Ford GT team also is looking at new ways to do business internally and with suppliers. Key engineers and suppliers are all co-located in one building. This office structure encourages ad-hoc meetings to resolve issues immediately. Meanwhile, mechanics build prototype models in an adjacent garage, allowing another point of instant collaboration.
After official approval in May 2002, the Ford GT has been on the fast track to break records for product development timing. One year later, Ford will help commemorate its Centennial by unveiling the first three production Ford GTs in June 2003. The three vehicles honor the magical first-, second-, third-place finish by Ford GT40s at the 1966 24 Hours of LeMans race.
In the spring of 2004, Ford will begin full Ford GT production with plans to produce about 1,500 of the supercars per year over the course of the program. The car will carry an MSRP of under $150,000, final pricing will be announced closer to full production.
The first Ford GT prototype, known internally as “Workhorse Number One,” gets its first shake down run at the Dearborn Proving Ground in late November 2002. Tom Reichenbach and Mark McGowan lead the Vehicle Engineering and Dynamics teams developing the Ford GT into a world-class sports car.