more GT40 retro news
Following on form what DK has posted, this is an article from Paul A. Eisenstein, direct from the car connections update on the Detroit show press days.
Ford is going forward into the past—again—with the prototype GT40, a retro-styled update of the legendary racecar that once made the company a feared competitor on the European race circuit.
The latest old-is-new design from Ford’s “Living Legends” design studio, the reborn GT40 could make its way onto the street, company officials strongly hint, if it is well received—and if the troubled automaker can find the money to transfer the supercar from concept to production.
This is the car “our customers always dreamed about but could never realize because there was never a road-going version,” said Ford design chief J Mays.
Le Mans way
Over the course of its decade-long run at such legendary course as Le Mans, the GT40 went through a constant evolution as Ford worked to maintain the car’s competitive edge. The prototype being shown at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show borrows from the best of the bunch, while introducing some more modern touches. Among other things, the show car is nearly 15 percent larger than the original, “which makes it possible to get in,” laughed Mays. The ’02 is also four inches taller. But those who remember the original are bound to see an uncanny resemblance.
Like the racer, this “testosterone-filled” show car is powered amidship, in this case by a supercharged V-8. Company insiders suggest that if they were to put the new GT40 on the road, they’d want it to pump out at least 500 horsepower.
The price tag would probably come in at the low to mid-$100,000 mark, and that wouldn’t get you a lot of high-tech toys, unlike the telematics and audio systems Ford has been loading into so many of its other show cars in recent years. That’s fine with Mays, who took some hits for his video game-like 24/7 concept vehicles a couple years ago.
“This car is about romance,” he said during a background session on the GT40. “It has nothing to do with bloody computers, thank God.”
That’s not to say a production GT40 would be low tech. The body and chassis would be made of aluminum or some even more exotic composite, project members explained. This would be a mixed frame-and-unibody package, in part to support the chasm-like door apertures.
There’s no mistaking that plenty of Ford folk want to see this car go to production. “The business case is relatively doable,” argued Mays, who suggested that if the response is good on this year’s auto show circuit, and if Ford can find the resources, the GT40 might come to fruition in “two to three years.”
Of course, those are some big “ifs” for a company that is expected to announce some major cutbacks later this month. Plant closings and layoffs are all but certain, though insiders insist the last thing on the agenda is cutting back the product program now in place. Still, putting more on the product plate will be a tough sell, even for a relatively low-budget program. On the other hand, Ford could use a high-end halo car to further enhance the boost it is getting from its newly reborn Thunderbird.
The GT40 is one of a number of products, along with the T-Bird, coming out of the Living Legends studio. Mays has never been shy about reaching back into a company’s past for iconic ideas. He helped pen the New Beetle for Volkswagen, and the TT for Audi. Ford’s Lincoln division is looking for ways to borrow styling cues from the great Mark II of the 1960s. And in the years to come, he hints, Ford will be likely to update still more legends from the company’s past.