Ford created something of a stir around the auto shows earlier this year when it announced plans to produce a new sports supercar. Generally known for its range of ever-improving lower and mid-priced models, Ford nonetheless has something of a history in the high end race/road car field. It all goes back to the 1960s when then-boss Henry Ford II was negotiating to buy Ferrari, partly to give his company a foothold in the racing field. The plans fell through so Ford decided to build his own racing GT car and beat Ferrari at Le Mans, a notion which at the time drew more laughs than praise. Working with experienced British designers and engineers, he created the GT 40 which went on to win Le Mans four years in a row in late 1960s and endow Ford with a performance image it had never enjoyed before. Though a small number of road versions of the GT40 were built, that wasn’t the original intent. Fast forward to 2005 when Ford launched a new Ford GT to enthusiastic response. It bore a very sympathetic likeness to the original GT 40 and was a fine car by any standards. It was only built for a couple of years, but that was the original plan. This time around, Ford is making an even more serious effort to take on established supercar makers like Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren, Maserati and the others. Production starts later this year and the car will be available far more widely than the last one was. Like the original GT 40, the new GT will remind Ford customers that the folks behind the blue oval can build exotic performance products as well as affordable and efficient family and business transportation. And besides that, the GT will attract lots of customers to Ford dealers just to get a look at it. If the car has any hand-me-down styling cues from the original car, they don’t show very well. It’s more of a totally new design and it looks spectacular. It’s intensively sculptured with the kind of aerodynamic elements you’ll find on most cars in this class - huge vents in the rear bodywork that morph into an efficient-looking wing and more vents on the hood and nose. Ford says that every surface was designed to reduce drag and add downforce and stability. It looks more Ferrari than Ford, but not too many people will complain about that. The doors swing upwards rather than outwards. Ford has taken the usual step towards weight reduction that’s employed by most supercar makers nowadays and carbon fibre is used extensively for the bodywork. The subframes are aluminum and the carbon fibre panels are attached to it to create a very light, though stiff, structure. Ford points out that this kind of structure will eventually find it’s way to ordinary production vehicles in the years ahead. The rear drive, mid-engined, GT is powered by what Ford describes as the ultimate EcoBoost engine. All Ford cars use EcoBoost engines now, but I’d guess that with the GT, the customer would be getting ‘more boost than eco.’ It’s a twin-turbo 3.5-litre V-6 based on a racing engine used in the US IMSA Tudor sports car championship which includes the legendary 12 Hours of Sebring. In the GT, this powerplant should produce more than 600-horsepower, which will make for a very exciting road car indeed. The transmission is a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle unit which promises near-instantaneous gear changes and optimum driver control. Naturally enough, the suspension is designed to take care of the power of this car as it should be. There’s no point having lots of power if the car doesn’t have handling to match. Adhesion is helped by huge 20-inch multi-spoke wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The GT boasts carbon-ceramic brake discs all round so it should be easy enough to keep all those horses under control. In the cockpit, there are seats that are actually integrated into the carbon fibre ‘passenger cell.’ The Formula One inspired steering wheel with paddle shifters incorporates most of the controls the driver will need and the fully digital instrument panel can be configured for specific driver needs. It can be switched around for multiple driving conditions as required. A similar approach is used in today’s military jet aircraft and plenty of civilian variants too. Ford has promised that the GT will go into production later this year, so there will be a wait before they reach the showrooms. Interestingly, the car will be built at a new plant in Markham, Ontario. It will be sold in what Ford describes as ‘selected global markets’ and no specific details are available yet. It’s bound to be an expensive car which is to be expected, given the GT’s power, production techniques and performance potential. There’s even talk of a racing version for the 24 Hours of Le Mans and this could certainly happen, especially when considering that 2016 is the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first of four wins at the big endurance race with the GT40.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two-seat sports coupe
ENGINE: 3.5-litre EcoBoost V-6, 600-plus horsepower
TRANSMISSION: Seven speed auto transaxle with manual override
PERFORMANCE: Not yet listed, but should be under four seconds
FUEL ECONOMY: Not yet rated
PRICE: Contact Dealer