A Ford like this doesn’t come around very often. In fact, I was in the seventh grade when the last one did.
A Ford “like this” has only come twice before [in production]. As everyone knows, Ford surprised the racing world when their GT40 won the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans with a 1-2-3 finish and then won the next three years consecutively, beating the almighty Ferrari in the process. In 2004, Ford came out with the GT to pay homage to the GT40 with retro-futuristic styling and an old school V8 that let it run with some of the best cars of its day.
Fast-forward to 2015 and Ford is looking to recapture some of that shock factor with the third installment. This is the 2016 Ford GT: the car that will bring Ford back into the supercar arena and, most importantly, bring the blue oval back to Le Mans for the first time since 1969 and just in time for the 50th anniversary of their first 1966 Le Mans win.
Not every detail is set in stone, but click past the jump for everything there is to know about the 2016 Ford GT at this point.
For starters, the 2016 Ford GT is not retro and it isn’t old school. At all. There are no stripes on this example and the classic head-chopper doors are gone. This GT is meant to be more modern and track-focused than the last one was. By the time it goes into production in 2016, Ford wants this to remain cutting edge among other high-performance exotics offered by the likes of McLaren and Ferrari. That means a lot of what you see on this GT has never been seen before on a production Ford – and because it’s a halo car, some of this stuff will become more common among Fords in the future.
Ford’s overhaul of the GT begins most prominently with the body. Styling-wise, it certainly looks like it’s a Ford with its eye on the future. The car may have some classic styling cues that link it to the original GT40 from 50 years ago, but the overall design is meant to be contemporary and fully functional. But above all else, it looks ready to take on Le Mans.
Ford engineers spent hours in the wind tunnel trying to find a way to make the GT’s profile both low in drag and high in downforce and stability. Design features like its teardrop shape, “aircraft inspired fuselage”, and its visibility-enhancing curved windshield help the GT to accomplish its goal of optimal aerodynamics, but Ford wanted more out of it.
Their solution to further enhance its ability to cut through the wind was to use active aerodynamics – a first for a Ford production car [that I can think of]. An active rear spoiler reacts to both speed and certain driver inputs by adjusting its height and/or pitch angle to ensure the car is as stable or streamlined as necessary.
Underneath the fancy aero work is a chassis unlike anything Ford has ever put into production. The entire car is built around a carbon monocoque chassis with aluminum front and rear subframes encapsulated in structural carbon fiber body panels. Mark that as something Ford hasn’t done on a production car yet, as that kind of passenger cell construction used to be limited to Formula 1 and the most expensive super cars on the road. We have no word on exactly how light the GT will be, but Ford claims one of the best power-to-weight ratios of any production car.
Ford’s functional design is continued inside the GT’s narrow canopy as well. The interior features nothing that isn’t completely necessary which helps to cut down on clutter and weight. The dash is fairly compact and distraction-free for a modern car, which alludes to its aspirations for endurance racing. The gauge cluster is no longer spread out across the entire width of the car as it used to be, but rather condensed into a configurable digital cluster. That sits nicely behind a square-ish steering wheel that integrates all the necessary driver controls and eliminates the need for stalks on the steering column.
The steering wheel and pedals are adjustable to accommodate drivers of most sizes, which is nice because the seats are integrated directly into the carbon fiber passenger cell and are not adjustable. The fixed seating means less materials are needed which means less weight – all while creating a direct sensory connection to the chassis.
Oh, and the famous GT40 doors that used to try to decapitate tall people are gone in favor of doors that swing upward.
The GT’s more serious attitude continues with the powertrain. Gone is the supercharged 5.4-liter V8 lifted out of the F-150 (it was still awesome) and in its place is a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 lifted out of the Daytona Prototype car that was raced to three victories in the IMSA Tudor United SportsCar Championship last season. That engine is said to produce “over” 600 horsepower with minimal lag thanks to port/direct dual fuel-injection and a low-friction roller-finger-follower valvetrain. that the wastegates likely vent through those hollowed out tail lights or that heat from the engine bay does.
Power is still sent to the rear wheels but this time through a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle.
The lightweight chassis will be suspended by an active racing-style torsion bar and pushrod suspension featuring adjustable ride height. The GT will ride on twenty-inch wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires with a compound and structure unique to the GT. Deceleration is handled by Brembo carbon ceramic brakes.
The 2016 Ford GT will go into production in 2016 and will race with full factory support in that year’s IMSA Tudor USCC season with an all-American driver lineup (in one car at least) provided by Chip Ganassi Racing. The GT will also race at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 50 years after the original GT40 won there.
Some of the specifics, like it’s exact power figure, torque, and other performance data will become available at a later date, but this is it. This is the car that Ford will use to take on the super car world for the third time and Le Mans for a second.
It’s going to be awesome.