‘Ford’s new GT–I’m sali­vat­ing!’

In Ford blew Fer­rari out of the wa­ter with the iconic GT . Over years later, they’ve only gone and done it again...

The Mail on Sunday - Event - - CONTENTS - CHRIS EVANS

This week I got to drive the mighty new Ford GT. Or, as ev­ery­one I know refers to it, the new GT 40. Which is fac­tu­ally 100 per cent in­cor­rect. I know this be­cause the very nice, knowl­edge­able, en­thu­si­as­tic man from Ford, who brought the car for me to try, told me as much. His name is Jay and what­ever he’s get­ting paid, Ford need to se­ri­ously con­sider dou­bling or tre­bling it. They don’t want to go los­ing such a loyal and pas­sion­ate su­per­star any time soon.

Jay is in love with this car. Not be­cause he’s a big Euro­pean Ford fro­mage and his con­tract says he has to, but be­cause he clearly adores ev­ery atom of its be­ing.

‘When it was launched in 1964 to take on the might of Fer­rari at Le Mans, the car was sim­ply called the Ford GT,’ Jay told me. ‘It was the jour­nal­ists of the day who nick­named it the GT 40 as it was 40 inches high.’ Well I never. ‘And the rea­son Ford en­tered Le Mans in the first place was be­cause they were all set to buy Fer­rari be­fore Enzo changed his mind, pulling out of the deal at the last minute. This got Ford’s back up so much they de­cided to take on Fer­rari head to head in the most bru­tal road race of all time. A race that kills cars for fun and that Fer­rari had dom­i­nated since 1960. Henry Ford II’s ex­act words were, “If we can’t buy Fer­rari, we will beat his ass at Le Mans.” ’

And beat him they did, al­beit at the third at­tempt – in 1964 and 1965, none of the GTs fin­ished the race, but in 1966… boom! Bye-bye Fer­rari. That was it for Il Com­menda­tore, while Henry’s GTs fin­ished on top of the podium for the next four years straight. Quite, quite amaz­ing.

Equally amaz­ing is what the GT did next. Fol­low­ing a semire­vival in 2005 of the GT as a road car, the cur­rent Ford bosses came up with an­other jolly jape. Wouldn’t it be fun to en­ter Le Mans again in 2016 with a new GT to cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary? And so it came to pass. And guess what? It came first in its class, straight off the bat. Now that truly is in­cred­i­ble.

And so here we are with the limited-edi­tion road-go­ing ver­sion of the world-fa­mous GT that has now tri­umphed at Le Mans no fewer than five times. No won­der all 1,000 of them were snapped up, im­me­di­ately.

But is it ac­tu­ally any good? And is it worth any­thing like its £475,000-plus price tag?

The short an­swer is no: it’s ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic and it’s al­ready worth al­most dou­ble.

As Jay pulled into our drive, not only was I in­stantly gob­s­macked, but so was my wife.

‘Now that really is pretty,’ she said. And my God, is she right! There is an ab­so­lute surety about its lines from front to back, a con­sis­tency of flow and di­men­sion. Noth­ing jars and the car seems like it’s mov­ing, even when to­tally sta­tion­ary.

From the front, one can see the clever use of per­spec­tive as it be­gins wide and then splits into two, with the cock­pit com­ing back in on it­self while the outer shell frames the whole thing like a pic­ture. Ob­vi­ously, there are loads of brainy aero­dy­namic rea­sons why this combo is a good idea, but ini­tially it’s all one can do to stop star­ing and sali­vat­ing.

Step be­hind the GT and there’s

yet more won­der to be­hold. Again, it’s stylish and stat­uesque and looks like the back of some yet-to-be-in­vented fighter jet, Yet it’s not at all bulky. This is be­cause the GT fea­tures a spe­cial keel sys­tem un­der­neath that chan­nels air through and around the car, work­ing with the rear wing to cre­ate in­cred­i­ble amounts of down­force.

In­side there is yet more de­sign eye candy. My favourite bit is the way the top of the dash is sus­pended in mid-air, al­low­ing nat­u­ral light to flow through its cen­tre, the like of which I have never seen be­fore.

Now, if truth be told, I wasn’t sure whether or not to ac­tu­ally take the GT out on the road. I re­alise this may sound mad, but let me ex­plain. First, I really didn’t want to stop look­ing at it, which I would have to do if I climbed in­side, and sec­ond, it was rain­ing and there was only time to drive on the roads close to my house in Berk­shire, which would mean not ex­ceed­ing 50mph, in traf­fic, on a Sat­ur­day. In a car ca­pa­ble of 216mph, this could ac­tu­ally end up be­ing more de­press­ing than ex­hil­a­rat­ing.

‘But you HAVE to drive it,’ said Jay. ‘It would be a crime not to.’

Of course he was right, and so in we popped, via the per­fectly weighted gull-wing doors.

So this is a su­per­car, right? But un­like the ma­jor­ity of mod­ern-day high-end su­per­cars – the LaFer­rari, Porsche 918 and McLaren P1 – this is also a car that seems to be much less both­ered by what other cars may think about it. To sit in this new Ford GT is more akin to sit­ting in the far more aus­tere Fer­rari F40 from the late Eight­ies. It’s ex­tremely ba­sic, which means it’s re­fresh­ingly hon­est. One can al­most hear the twin tur­bos whis­per­ing: ‘You either like me or you don’t. I really don’t give a stuff.’

To start, ad­just the ped­als to where you want them by pulling a sim­ple strap lo­cated on the side of the cen­tral man­i­fold, put your foot on the brake and press the big red but­ton. All you have to do next is try to wipe the smile off your face un­til the nice man from Ford says: ‘OK sir, your time is up.’ At which point you will want to cry.

In be­tween, I got to have play. Not a proper play but play none­the­less. Fan­tas­tic cars are like sub­lime skiers or bal­let dancers. If they can per­form their craft beau­ti­fully when mov­ing al­most in slow-mo­tion, then things only be­come even more fluid as the speed picks up. That’s what this GT feels like.

The 3.5-litre, V6 en­gine sounds pleas­ingly raw from the get-go. Not an­noy-the-neigh­bours raw but just not as man­u­fac­tured as other over-thought, over-pro­duced en­gine voices have be­come. The same can be said for the steer­ing, sus­pen­sion and sound­proof­ing. Ev­ery­thing feels as if it’s been de­vel­oped for a gen­uine race car. Hon­esty from ne­ces­sity, as op­posed to PlayS­ta­tion fan­tasy.

There are few sig­na­ture wow fac­tors. Like the rear wing that changes shape once de­ployed, both un­der­neath via var­i­ous in­ter­nal mech­a­nisms and on top thanks to the Gur­ney flap, a de­vice more com­monly found on rac­ing cars. And then there’s the ridicu­lously low sus­pen­sion set­ting in V Max and Track mode, which drops the car by a dra­matic 50mm. And how about car­bon wheels? Ooh, yes please. All fin­ger-lickin’, mighty ex­citin’!

The driv­ing po­si­tion is spot on. Low! Where you want to be. Where the car meets the road. For the mile or two when I did give it a bit of welly, ec­stasy duly en­sued. Again, mem­o­ries of the Fer­rari F40 came flood­ing back, but with­out the hurty bone-crush­ing, head-bang­ing and gen­eral de­struc­tion of one’s ver­te­brae. 0-60mph in 2.8 sec­onds, 647hp and brakes that could stop a ram­pag­ing herd of starv­ing wilde­beest late for their tea. Mar­vel­lous, my friends, bloody mar­vel­lous…

For the 1,000 lucky own­ers who have bagged one – Ford are mak­ing 250 a year un­til 2020 – I couldn’t be more pleased. You have bought a truly unique car, which is en­tirely dif­fer­ent to any­thing any other mo­tor man­u­fac­turer could sell you.

For the rest of us, for the princely sum of £30, there is a rather fan­tas­tic Speed Cham­pi­ons Lego set we can treat our­selves to for Crimbo. Fea­tur­ing both the 2016 Ford GT and the orig­i­nal 1966 Ford GT 40 – as Lego call it.

Do you want to tell them or shall I?

Price c. £475,000 (all sold) En­gine 3.5-litre twin turbo V6 EcoBoost Gear­box Seven-speed semi-auto Power 647hp 0-60mph 2.8 secs Top speed 216mph Fuel econ­omy

14mpg First year road tax £2,000 TECH SPEC

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