While DeLorean is famed for its time-travelling sports car, Ford aims to bridge a half-century of history with the GT, unveiled at the Detroit auto show on 12 January.
June 2016 will mark 50 years since Ford prevailed against the Ferrari juggernaut in the premier Le Mans endurance-race category.
To commemorate that feat, the company will build a new, 600-plus horsepower GT road car and race it at the legendary French event in 2016.
This road-going, carbon-fibre wonder features a race-rated version of the company’s signature EcoBoost turbocharged engine technology, with a mid-mounted 3.5-litre V6 matched to a seven-speed dual-clutch automated transmission driving the rear wheels.
For the company’s 100th anniversary in 2003, it introduced a GT whose styling was a tribute to that of the ’60s racer. This new car, however, looks resolutely forward, with contemporary styling that eschews so-called retro-futurism, a design language championed by J Mays, Ford’s former chief designer.
The bodywork looks shrink-wrapped over the cockpit and powertrain in the manner of the latest sports prototype racers, lending it a focused, track-ready look.
As the car that proved Ford’s ability against the world’s established sports car companies the GT holds a special place in Ford history.
“For students of racing, this seems to me the coolest story to come along in years,” said AJ Baime, author of Go Like Hell, an account of Ford’s attack on Le Mans, in a telephone interview. “It’s got everything in it: history, a hugely important brand, American pride and the most important sports car race on earth, all wrapped up in a new car. The stakes are huge.”
The original Ford GT enjoyed association with drivers who are icons of the sport. “The Ford GT at Le Mans in the 1960s is the story of Henry Ford II, Carroll Shelby, Bruce McLaren, Lee Iacocca, Mario Andretti and AJ Foyt, among so many others,” Baime added, noting just some of the drivers and craftsmen who helped stoke the car’s legend. “This new programme will be the impetus to celebrate it all again, on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first Le Mans victory.”
Indeed, the GT is a halo car, the kind of machine that casts its glow down the product line. And Jim Farley, Ford of Europe’s leader, expects to see a “GT effect”.
“Even if people don’t buy a GT, they would be talking about it as they buy their ST,” he said, referencing initials bolted on a higher-performance Fiesta whose pricing begins around $21,000. It is safe to say that pricing will be significantly higher for the GT, though the final figure will not be announced until closer to the car’s June sale date.