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 1995 Detroit Auto Show, the Ford GT90 concept was shown. At the 2002 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 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.
Production and sales
The GT was produced in model years 2005 and 2006, with the first customers taking delivery in August 2004. The GT began assembly at Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio and was painted by Saleen in their Saleen Special Vehicles facility in Troy, Michigan. The GT is powered by an engine built at Ford's Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, Michigan. Installation of the engine and manual transmission along with interior finishing was handled in the SVT building at Ford's Wixom, Michigan plant.
Of the 4,500 GTs originally planned, approximately 100 were to be exported to Europe, starting in late 2005. An additional 200 were destined for sale in Canada. Production ended in 2006 without reaching the planned lot. Approximately 550 were built in 2004, nearly 1,900 in 2005, and just over 1,600 in 2006, for a grand total of 4,038. The final 11 car bodies manufactured by Mayflower Vehicle Systems were disassembled, and the frames and body panels were sold as service parts.
Like many exotic vehicles, when the Ford GT was first released, the demand outpaced supply, and the cars initially sold for premium prices. The first private sale of Ford's new mid-engine sports car was completed on August 4, 2004, when former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley took delivery of his Midnight Blue 2005 Ford GT. Shirley earned the right to purchase the first production Ford GT (chassis #10) at a charity auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Auction after bidding over $557,000.
A few other early cars sold for as much as a US$100,000 premium over the suggested retail price of $139,995 (Ford increased the MSRP to $149,995 on July 1, 2005). Optional equipment available included a McIntosh sound system, racing stripes, painted brake calipers, forged alloy wheels,heritage color package adding $29,500 to the MSRP.
The production run of 4,038 GTs ended the 2006 model year on September 21, 2006, short of the originally planned 4,500. The Wixom Assembly Plant has stopped production of all models as of May 31, 2007. Sales of the GT continued into 2007, from cars held in storage and in dealer inventories.
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 capless fuel filler system, one-piece door panels, and an aluminum engine cover with a one-piece carbon fiber inner panel.
Brakes are four-piston aluminum Brembo calipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners.
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). The camshafts have unique specifications, with more lift and duration than those found in the Shelby GT500. Power output is 550 hp (410 kW; 558 PS) at 6500 rpm and generates 500 lbft (678 Nm) of torque at 3750 rpm. A Ricardo six-speed manual transmission is fitted featuring a helical limited-slip differential. Car and Driver tested the GT in January 2004 and recorded a 0-60 time of 3.3.