‘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...
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