Ford surprised most everyone on a cold January day when in addition to showing off its latest model introductions, it rolled out a new Ford GT.
Aside from telling attendees it was powered by an EcoBoost engine, it was light as a feather and they were pretty certain they would sell it, one question remained: will they race it.
So 50 years after the original Ford GT-40 hit the racing circuit as Henry Ford II’s way to show Ferrari that Ford knew how to build a race car, and emphatically proving his point by taking the top three spots at the Le Mans 24 hours, the Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker is ready to do it again … at Le Mans.
“It’s time to go back where we came from. To reconfirm who we are,” the maker says in a video about the effort.
However, the prep work for getting there got off to a rough start; the Chip Ganassi team ran into a series of problems with brakes, tires and transmissions at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in February.
After that stumbling start, the team has pulled it together, including a second-place finish at the Six Hours of Spa last week, and this weekend, the No. 68 Ford GT starts the race from the pole position in an all-Ford GT front row at Le Mans for the LM GTE Pro class.
“Every member of this team has worked tirelessly to get the Ford GT to this stage in its development,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president, Global Product Development and chief technical officer.
“We know the greatest task is still ahead of us and speed isn’t the only thing you need at Le Mans. As one team with one goal, we will race with commitment and passion and we will race for every member of the extended Ford family across the globe.”
To further prove the point, two other Ford GTs will race from the fourth and fifth positions at the start of the race. Ferrari’s 488 captured the three other spots in the top seven.
(Ford begins taking orders for $400k supercar. For more, Click Here.)
When Ford reintroduced the GT in 2006, it took it racing too and it fared well. However, that car ain’t this one except in one area: they’re fast.
The 2016 Ford GT features the ultimate in aerodynamics, lightweight carbon fiber construction and the street version features an ultra-efficient twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost engine, Ford’s most powerful production engine that produces more than 600 horsepower.
The Ford GT is the pinnacle product of the Ford Performance range so it is fitting that the road car version will make its dynamic debut at Le Mans. At 12:20 on Saturday, Ford’s most advanced and most exclusive car will take part in a parade at the Circuit de la Sarthe, providing the first opportunity for anyone in the world to see the much-anticipated Ford GT production car in action before the Ford GT race cars take on the world’s greatest race later that afternoon.
Automakers often use race cars to generate a buzz about the brand as well as a test bed for technologies that eventually find their way into our everyday drivers. However, most of the good nicknames for automakers, such as First On Race Day, are born out of the maker’s racing efforts.
Another win at Le Mans would cement Ford’s reputation with race fans about the quality of its vehicles.
However, the popularity of the GT is unquestioned, which is good because buying one of the just 500 expected to be produced during the next two years is arduous.
“The purchase process for the Ford GT is as unique as our all-new supercar,” said Henry Ford III, the global marketing manager for Ford Performance. “We understand GT customers are strong ambassadors for Ford Motor Co., and we look forward to providing them a service as distinct as the car itself.”
(Ford running four GTs at Le Mans. Click Here for an update.)
Ford has reason to be more selective, it explains. For one thing, it plans to take orders for only 500 cars, the total number it plans to produce during the GT’s first two years. The maker has strongly hinted that the new two-seater will only be produced for a few years, much like the original GT of a decade back.
If you already owned a Ford GT, you jumped to the head of the line – unless you keep it locked up for display purposes only. The automaker is determined to make sure buyers actually intend to drive their new cars and not send them off to a museum.
The order process was designed weed out speculators who only intended only to lock up a space and then sell it off to the highest bidder, a problem that has plagued other supercar makers like Ferrari over the years.
Despite the hoops, more than 10,800 people showed interest online in the new GT and of those, Ford received 6,506 fully completed applications from around the world during the one-month application period, the automaker said.
“We’re excited by the amount of enthusiasm fans are showing for the new Ford GT,” said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance. “This initial application window is just one of many ways fans and potential owners will have to connect with our all-new supercar even before it hits the streets.”
Ford is now reviewing applications from those 6,506 potential supercar buyers and will start notifying potential owners in the weeks ahead. A second application window is also possible, but no announcements have been made.
Hundreds of registrants submitted videos with their applications during the month-long application window, hoping to bolster their chances of purchasing one of the first 500 new Ford GTs. Creative applicants featured children, lighting effects, racing footage, revving engines, garage tours and life stories to show why they should own the all-new Ford GT.
(Victory, defeat – and plenty of surprises in Daytona. Click Here for coverage.)
Final pricing hasn’t been announced, but Ford says the new GT will cost “in the mid-$400,000s.” That makes it about three times as expensive as the original, $149,995 Ford GT. Ford produced just 4,000 of the earlier version which was unveiled in 2002 in concept form and then sold during the 2005 and 2006 model-years.