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Old 01-28-2003, 07:03   #1 (permalink)
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Ford touts the 2005 GT "40" as an 'anti-snob' exotic

By Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News

DEARBORN -- The 2005 GT sports car, the most expensive vehicle ever to wear the Ford badge, will be marketed as "the anti-snob" exotic when it goes on sale early next year.

At a GT technical briefing Monday, Chris Theodore, Ford's top engineer, said the new rear-engine sports car, which features a supercharged, 500-horsepower 5.4-liter V-8 and six-speed manual transmission, will earn a reputation as an affordable exotic.

"When the guy in the exotic brand pulls up next to you at the stoplight, you can say, 'Mine goes faster, and I didn't get ripped off,' " Theodore said.

"I don't want to say it's a blue-collar snob car, but it has the potential to have a broader base than the Ferrari."

Ford has said the GT will be priced under $150,000 -- slightly cheaper than the Ferrari 360 Modena, but significantly more than competitors like the Dodge Viper, which starts at around $80,000. Privately, GT executives say the price will be around $135,000.

The GT will be aimed at 45- to 60-year-old men with six-figure incomes. Pilot production will begin in March. Ford will ultimately make about 1,500 GTs a year, or a total of 4,500 by 2006.

The first GTs will be used for promotional purposes during Ford's centennial celebration in June.

Ford describes the GT as a "reissue" of the original LeMans race car that debuted in 1964. It will be offered in a palette of colors that mirror the original 60's race cars.

To keep weight down, the new GT has an aluminum space frame, a design borrowed from modern racing cars. It will have a top speed of 190 mph and, like many competitors, it will be a gas-guzzler, getting an estimated 16 or 17 miles per gallon on the highway.

Theodore said Ford considered putting a V-12 in the GT, but decided the supercharged V-8 -- a milder version powers the Ford SVT F-150 Lightning pickup -- had "more potential."
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