He Drove, She Drove
Ford's GT muscle car trails other posh rods
By Paul & Anita Lienert
The Detroit News
2005 Ford GT
Type: Mid-engine, rear-wheel drive, 2-passenger coupe
Price¹ : Base, $143,845 ; as tested, $157,095
Engine: Supercharged 5.4-liter V-8; 550-hp; 500 lb-ft torque
EPA fuel economy: 14 mpg city/21 mpg highway
Key competitors: Acura NSX, Aston Martin DB9, Bentley Continental GT, Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper, Ferrari 360 Modena, Lamborghini Gallardo, Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG, Mercedes-Benz SL600, Porsche 911
12-month insurance cost²: $3,317
Where built: Wixom
1: Includes $1,250 destination charge and $2,600 federal gas-guzzler tax; 2: Estimated by AAA Michigan. Rates may vary depending on coverage and driving record.
Ford Motor Co. continues to reach into its past with latter-day recreations of such classics as the Thunderbird, the Mustang and, most recently, the GT -- a near-copy of the Ford GT40 race car that won the fabled LeMans endurance race nearly 40 years ago.
Ford has been only partially successful in transforming the GT40 into a street-legal performance car. The vehicle we tested, a 2005 model with such options as a McIntosh audiophile system ($4,000) and painted white stripes ($5,000), carried a bottom line of $157,095 -- enough money to buy an entry-level Ferrari or Lamborghini.
HE: I was so jealous when you trotted off last fall to the race track to drive the new Ford GT. Even though I'm still convinced that it was probably not a good idea to build this car, I've been dying to drive it. Now that I've finally been able to spend a few days in the GT, I can safely report that it has been one of the most intoxicating -- and infuriating -- driving experiences of my career. Intoxicating because there are few cars in this price segment, short of a Ferrari or a Lambo, that can deliver the kind of rush you get in the GT. Infuriating, because Ford had an opportunity to create a much more civilized super car than the Italians, and blew it.
SHE: My main concern about the GT is that it doesn't belong on the street. It only belongs on the track. It's far too tempting to test the legal limits in a car that makes 550 horsepower from its supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 and has a top speed of nearly 200 miles per hour. You have to have the discipline of the Dalai Lama to resist all the constant urging from friends, onlookers and other drivers to take it to the max. I spent the better part of the weekend giving rides in the GT, and I found myself delivering the same lecture to my passengers on why I wasn't about to go 90 in a 25 mph zone.
HE: It is truly a remarkable vehicle in which you can get into so much trouble in so little time. The buff magazines have clocked the GT's 0-to-60 acceleration at well under four seconds. We personally observed that it took the GT no more than two seconds to leap from zero to 40 when we took off from the local stoplight -- and that was in first gear. I should add that I couldn't see the traffic light either because the darn windshield is so low.
SHE: I also think the GT looks like it belongs on the track. We drove a red car with fat white racing stripes down the center. That engine, which sits behind the driver and passenger, looks like a museum piece under glass. Inside, the tachometer, not the speedometer, is mounted just ahead of the steering wheel, just like in a race car. The GT even comes with a big red push-button starter. Surprisingly, there are some amenities, including air conditioning, power windows and locks and a fancy audio system. But the cabin is still fairly primitive, with some door trim that looks really plasticky.
HE: In a performance car, primitive is not necessarily a bad thing. Consider stripped-down hot rods like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo and the Subaru WRX STi. My problem with the GT is that there seem to be too many compromises in a car that's trying to please the enthusiast crowd while appealing to the big-money set that's more used to driving posh -- but really fast -- street cars like the Mercedes-Benz SL600 or the new Bentley Continental GT. My other problem is the price, which even without options is nearly twice that of a Dodge Viper. Unfortunately, the GT is not anywhere near twice as good as a Viper. And for the same money, you can buy a real Ferrari.
SHE: I think the GT has generated a lot of goodwill for a venerable meat-and-potatoes American company -- just like the original GT40 race car did back in the 1960s when it beat the Ferraris at LeMans. One man who drove the GT with us this weekend only half-facetiously begged his wife to sell their house and buy the car. Other men seemed awestruck by it. Nearly every male who saw the GT stopped and turned reverentially, as if something important were passing by. Something was. And what kind of a price tag can you put on that?
Rating system: 1- unacceptable; 2- subpar; 3- acceptable; 4- above average; 5- world class
Anita's Likes: Fabulous toy for a guy. Great car for track hobbyists. Nod to civility with air conditioning, power windows, CD player. Supportive seats.
Anita's Dislikes: Water dripping from doors onto seats after rainstorm. Side mirrors too small to be of much use. Difficult to reach radio. Needs convertible version. Front-mounted trunk holds only golf balls, not golf bag. No side air bags, no stability or traction control. Lacks adjustable pedals, seat-height adjustment.
Paul's Likes: Laserlike handling. Sensational power and acceleration. Classic race car styling from the mid-60s. Only American mid-engine performance car. Delicious engine exhaust growl.
Paul's Dislikes: Difficult to open massive doors in tight parking spots. Easy to clunk your head on wrap-over door design. Can buy a real Ferrari for the same price. Twice as expensive, but not twice as good as a Dodge Viper. Lousy visibility in nearly every direction. Not much fun in stop-and-go city driving. Door trim looks plasticky.