Ford GT pays homage to history…
First, a little bit of history. Between 1960 and 1965, Ferrari was the dominant player in endurance racing, and especially at the crown jewel, Le Mans.
Furious at Enzo Ferrari for pulling out of a joint collaboration at the eleventh hour, Ford Motor Co. using its deep pockets to try and beat Ferrari at their own game, building their own endurance racer, the Ford GT 40, named for its extremely short height of only 40 inches.
Here’s a clip from the 1966 movie, A Man and A Woman, as the protagonist in his GT40 practices for Le Mans:(2:18) When this thing comes on cam, it’s incredible.
The original 1964 GT40 was to be powered by a sophisticated twin-cam alloy V8 that was being developed for the Indy 500. When this engine couldn’t be readied in time, Ford turned to a push-rod V8 that didn’t have enough power.
Carroll Shelby took over Ford’s racing department in 1965, and shoehorned a 7 Liter V8 that he’d been using for his Cobras into the sheet steel body, and ran 485 HP through a beefed up 4-speed gearbox.
A fast car for sure, Ford also chose to overwhelm Ferrari by entering 8 Mark ll’s, and at Le Mans, Ford got its win, finishing 1-2-3-5 of their four remaining cars in the race. The GT40 MK ll began a four year winning streak that lasted until 1969.
Four decades later, Ford again shocked the world with the 2004 Ford GT, a car designed and built in homage to the racing GT40 and in celebration of Ford Motor’s 100th year anniversary.
A slightly larger version of the famous racing machine, the new car stands 44 inches high compared to the original 40 inches, but the 2004 Ford GT is a visual twin to the iconic GT40.
A 5.4 liter V8 produces 550 HP, 500 ft. pounds of torque, making it very capable of pulling tree stumps out of the ground, but absolutely excelling as a modern, ultra-high performance sports car.
A 6-speed manual transmission, rumbling exhaust, and the whine of a supercharger right behind the driver’s ear, all combine to make you every part of the driving experience. Video here
A decade after its release, 3.4 seconds to 60, and a 205 MPH to end is still the envy of many modern sports cars.
Driving the Ford GT is as thrilling as the stats make it sound, but as luck would have it, a passing shower made me more than cautious in a machine without traction control. I would have loved to get this car on the track at speed just to dream about the sensations of racing at Le Mans.
Ford only produced a bit over 4000 cars, and there are very few in black, and today’s constantly appreciating prices reflect the fact that everyone wants one.
Sports car fans are anxiously awaiting the new 2017 version of the GT, but for my money, the visceral experience together with the iconic shape, make the 2005 Ford GT the car to own.