Taking aim at Ferrari, again Invoking its race-winning heritage, the new Ford GT shares similar exterior and interior styling with the original GT40 By Patrick Hong • Photos by Allan Rosenberg November 2003 The year was 1966. Ferrari had dominated the world's most prestigious endurance race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans by winning it the last six times in a row. After a failed attempt by Henry Ford II to buy Ferrari in the early '60s to help bolster its international racing presence, Ford Motor Company decided to build the GT40 race car and beat the famed Italian marque. Using the all-American big-block 427-cu.-in. engine powering the GT40 Mark II, the blue oval dominated the classic event at La Sarthe with an emphatic 1-2-3 finish. Flash forward to 2003. The same year in which Ford Motor Company celebrates its centennial, CEO William Clay Ford Jr. is ready to take on Ferrari once again. But this time, instead of dueling each other on the racetrack, Ford is taking the battle to the streets. Targeted squarely at the Ferrari 360 Modena, the 2005 Ford GT is named to invoke its winning heritage and is designed as a high-performance sports car to surpass the successful Italian in every way: power, handling and everyday civility. In fact, Ford engineers are so confident that they even brought along a couple of 360 Modenas for us to drive back-to-back with the Ford GT during an early preview in Monterey, California. Powering the Ford GT is a mid-mounted, all-aluminum V-8 with an Eaton Model 2300 Lysholm screw-type supercharger. With a maximum 12 psi of boost forced into the 5.4-liter powerplant, maximum horsepower is rated in excess of 500 bhp at 6000 rpm. And keeping with the American sports car tradition of wheel-spinning smoky burnouts, the GT's 330-cu.-in. engine is capable of doling out 500 lb.-ft. of torque at a low 4500 rpm; enough to give any bystanders a good show with a simple tap on the throttle. The supercharged V-8 even produces in excess of 500 bhp, close to the '60s' Le Mans car To keep all the power under control, Ford engineers focused on developing a stiff chassis to serve as the basis for a superior-handling sports car. With the exterior shape reminiscent of the original GT40 as seen at the 2002 North American International Auto Show, the Ford GT team designed an aluminum space frame under the skin. Relying heavily on computer-aided analysis, using extrusions, castings and stamped panels and the industry's first friction-stir welding, the Ford GT's chassis is 40 percent stiffer than the Ferrari 360 Modena's. Extending out to all four corners of the GT are unequal-length upper A-arms and lower L-arms with coil springs, monotube shocks and anti-roll bars. Brembo monoblock 4-piston calipers are on duty all around and ready to clamp down on front 14.0-in. and rear 13.2-in. cross-drilled and vented discs. Although riding on one-piece BBS wheels and aggressive Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar 235/45ZR-18 front and 315/40ZR-19 rear tires, the Ford GT is tuned more for the street than the track. On state highways along the central California coast and threading through area mountain roads, the GT provides civil road manners. But don't let the ease of driving the Ford GT fool you. After a few laps around Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca, the newest Ford supercar is well equipped to handle the tight chicanes and the heart-stopping downhill Corkscrew. Compared with the Ferrari 360 Modena, where high engine revs are needed for power, the robust torque of the supercharged V-8 (as low as 2000 rpm) launches the GT out of corners with authority. The balance and grip are impressive; it simply does everything you ask in a very relaxed manner. While the Ferrari demands more driver involvement, the Ford appears to perform with less effort. Production for the Ford GT is set to begin in the spring of 2004, with the list price set just under $150,000.