This Week in Speed: Ford GT

The Ford GT began as a concept car designed in anticipation of the automaker’s centennial year and as part of its drive to showcase and revive its “heritage” names such as Mustang and Thunderbird. At the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, Ford unveiled a new GT40 Concept car. Camilo Pardo, the head of Ford’s “Living Legends” studio, is credited as the chief designer of the GT and worked under the guidance of J Mays. Carroll Shelby, the original designer of the Shelby GT 500, was brought in by Ford to help develop the Ford GT; which included performance testing of the prototype car. While the project was still secret, it was called Petunia.

The GT is similar in outward appearance to the original Ford GT40 cars, but bigger, wider, and most importantly 3 in (76 mm) taller than the original 40 in (100 cm); as a result, a potential name for the car was the GT43. Although the cars are visually related, structurally, there is no similarity between the modern GT and the 1960s GT40 that inspired it. Three production prototype cars were shown in 2003 as part of Ford’s centenary, and delivery of the production Ford GT began in the fall of 2004.

As the Ford GT was built as part of the company’s 100th anniversary celebration, the left headlight cluster was designed to read “100”.

The Ford GT features many new and unique technologies, including superplastic-formed frame, aluminum body panels, roll-bonded floor panels, a friction stir welded center tunnel, covered by a magnesium center console, a “ship-in-a-bottle” gas tank, a cap less fuel filler system, one-piece door panels, and an aluminum engine cover with a one-piece carbon fiber inner panel.

When the rear canopy is opened, the rear suspension components and engine are visible.

The mid-mounted 5.4 L Modular V8 engine is all-aluminum with a Lysholm twin screw-type supercharger. It features a forged rotating assembly housed in an aluminum block designed specifically for the GT program. A dry sump oiling system is employed, allowing the engine to sit low in the car’s frame. The DOHC 4-valve heads are a revision of the 2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R cylinder heads (with slightly increased wall casting thickness in the exhaust port).

Power output is 550 hp (410 kW; 558 PS) at 6500 rpm and generates 500 lb ft (678 Nm) of torque at 3,750 rpm. Car and Driver tested the GT in January 2004 and recorded a 0-60 time of 3.3 seconds, with a 5-60 time of 3.7 seconds.

This generation of the Ford GT has established multiple performance and speed records since its introduction, currently holding the title of fastest car in the world, in the standing mile with a top speed of 293.6 mph.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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