Ford calls it the "American supercar reborn." Initially named the GT40 after a renowned Ford racecar of the 1960s, the supercar was renamed GT as it went into production.
The original model was built for the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans race, where it beat the world's best racecars in endurance competition — finishing first, second and third in 1966.
"Essential elements of the original — including the stunning low profile and midmounted American V-8 engine — continue in this latest interpretation of the classic," said J Mays, Ford's vice president of design. Ford said every line and curve "is a unique interpretation of the original."
A limited-edition Tungsten Grey coupe for 2006 commemorates Ford's 1966 victories at Le Mans.
Though it's similar in appearance, today's car is 18 inches longer and nearly 4 inches taller than the original racer. Body engineers had to find new techniques to shape the curvaceous body.
Similar to the original Ford GT racers, the doors on the new GT are cut into the roof. The long, front overhang is reminiscent of 1960s-era racecars, but the cowl and high-intensity-discharge headlights are distinctly modern. Functional cooling scoops on the leading edge of the rear quarter panels channel fresh air to the engine.
An all-aluminum space frame consists of extrusions, castings and stampings. Body panels are made of super-plastic-formed aluminum. A capless fuel-filler system is installed. Four-piston aluminum Brembo monoblock brake calipers work with cross-drilled and vented rotors.
Flush-mounted windows help to re-create the fuselage shape of the original, and the coupe has cantilevered doors. Round taillights use indirect LED brake lamps. A brushed-magnesium tunnel contains the center-mounted fuel tank.
When the canopy is open, the rear suspension components and engine are visible. Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires ride on 18-inch front wheels, while 19-inch tires go on the rear.
Two occupants fit inside the GT coupe. Innovative "ventilated seats" and the instrument panel — with analog gauges and a large tachometer — follow the pattern of the original. Stylized toggle switches like those on the GT40 operate the headlights, fog lights, dimmer, wipers and rear defroster. The leather-wrapped three-spoke steering wheel tilts and telescopes, and the driver can see the engine at work by glancing into the rearview mirror.
The deep bucket seats feature carbon-fiber shells and leather seating surfaces. The center console houses a starter button and CD stereo. Air conditioning, remote keyless entry, and power windows, locks and mirrors are standard.
Under the Hood
Ford's 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 generates 550 horsepower and 500 pounds-feet of torque and breathes with the assistance of an Eaton supercharger. Forged components include the crankshaft, H-beam connecting rods and aluminum pistons. The Ricardo six-speed-manual transaxle features a helical limited-slip differential.
All-disc antilock brakes are standard. Side-impact airbags are not available.
Squeezing into the cockpit is no easy matter, but it's well worth the effort if you get the opportunity to sample the GT's prowess on a racetrack. Acceleration is close to startling, and the supercar behaves as calmly and expertly at 140 mph as it does at one-third that speed.
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