HOW FORD TURNS A LE MANS WIN­NER INTO A ROAD CAR

Rac­ing DNA cour­ses through the Ford GT, but how is it be­ing tamed for the road? The an­swer can be found in Canada, as Steve Cro­p­ley dis­cov­ers

Autocar - - THIS WEEK -

Ask a bunch of dyedin-the-wool Ford en­thu­si­asts where the Blue Oval’s mighty Le Mans class-win­ning GT is made and it’s odds on none of them would sug­gest an anony­mous­look­ing col­lec­tion of fac­to­ries in the city of Markham, On­tario, about half an hour north of Toronto in Canada.

They’d prob­a­bly be sim­i­larly sur­prised to learn that this same place has al­ready served as the crucible for the key chas­sis, sus­pen­sion and body parts of nu­mer­ous other fa­mous con­cepts and low-vol­ume pro­duc­tion cars, the As­ton Martin One-77 and Vul­can among them. Right now, it is play­ing the same role in the lives of the forth­com­ing Red Bull-as­ton Valkyrie and the Mercedes-amg Pro­ject One, to name just two.

We’re vis­it­ing the engi­neer­ing di­vi­sion of Mul­ti­matic, fa­mous for its unique grasp of lat­est-gen­er­a­tion com­pos­ite and metal fab­ri­ca­tion tech­niques – and well known among its pres­tige clients for a re­fresh­ing will­ing­ness to keep a low pro­file about its role in the cre­ation of their most ex­pen­sive and com­plex cars.

This mod­est ap­proach re­flects the re­mark­able char­ac­ter of Larry Holt, who has spent 30 years build­ing teams of Mul­ti­matic engi­neer­ing ex­perts on ei­ther side of the At­lantic, by con­cen­trat­ing only on those client com­pa­nies who need to know.

Now Holt and Mul­ti­matic have started do­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent. Hav­ing been part­ners with Ford in the GT pro­ject since the very be­gin­ning of the skunkworks de­sign phase, the firm has moved to mak­ing the road car model – the first time it has ever made cars to a fully fin­ished stage, ready to go to own­ers.

It is into the sec­ond year of man­u­fac­ture and has al­ready put about 150 hand-built GTS on the road, mostly in the US. The op­er­a­tion has now moved out of its buildup phase and is run­ning at the planned pro­duc­tion rate of one a day, en route to the ul­ti­mate tar­get of pro­duc­ing 1000 cars by the end of 2020. To mark the mile­stone, Mul­ti­matic in­vited Au­to­car in to see how it’s done.

Un­til now, the GT has been best known as a Le Mans class win­ner, hav­ing achieved in 2016 its cre­ators’ de­sire to em­u­late the GT40’S fa­mous 1966 one-two-three vic­tory on its 50th an­niver­sary. Mul­ti­matic’s com­pe­ti­tion di­vi­sion, in con­junc­tion with Chip Ganassi Rac­ing, achieved the Le Mans mile­stone with what al­most seemed like ease, al­though the rac­ing GTS have laboured since with the rule-mak­ers’ ob­ses­sion with ‘bal­ance of per­for­mance’ (aka giv­ing the oth­ers a chance).

The GTS have been so hand­i­capped that at times they’ve had to race

Ev­ery Ford GT is painted to order on-site

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