Ever since Ford introduced its stunning GT40 race car in the
mid 1960s, it's been one of the world's most coveted performance
cars. For decades, people have been attempting replicas of wildly
varying credibility. And today, real GT40s sell for anywhere
from about $300,000 for a typical example, to the $2.5-million
recently paid for a GT40 prototype.
Given that, it's not surprising that Ford jumped back into the
mid-engine super car game, offering its GT40 successor, the
GT, for 2005. This new version is by far the wildest, fastest
mass-production car ever offered by Ford. So what's it like
to drive? Let's find out.
Avoiding the door's skull-creasing curved top, dropping into
the GT's waist-high cabin is straightforward and easy enough.
The seats have a pleasing form-fitting rounded shape, with a
comfortably appropriate rake to the back. Head- and leg-room
is surprisingly good for such a lowslung machine -- even six
footers or maybe taller will find it quite livable. In front
of the driver sprawls a visual feast of purposeful black upholstery,
chrome, and brushed aluminum, punctuated by switches designed
to look like the starkly functional toggle switches of the original
It's all gorgeous. The car is entertaining before you even fire
And that visual feast isn't limited to the cockpit. The GT's
gloriously polished 550-hp supercharged V8 is plainly visible
through the rear window, sitting what seems like two inches
from the driver's head. Pushing the big red Start button just
above the center console prompts the engine into life, playing
a symphony that sounds like a mix of basic Ford high-performance
V8 and Italian super car, embellished with the prominent whine
of the supercharger.
Surprisingly for such an exotic machine, the GT's clutch-pedal
weighting feels like that of a Mustang, maybe even a bit lighter.
With no special technique required, the car gets rolling from
a stop without so much as a shudder. At this point it begins
to set in that this all-out super car is remarkably user friendly
-- a sweetheart.
That said, day-to-day driving in the GT wouldn't be like commuting
in a Honda Civic. Negotiating a parking lot requires drivers
to constantly stretch and crane their neck to see past the thick
window pillars and swooping fenders. And directly behind the
car? Forget it. If it doesn't show up in the sideview mirrors,
it doesn't exist to the Ford GT driver.
But would anyone driving this thrill machine really care about
such mundane quibbles? Doubtful.
Getting ready to launch onto the front straight of famed race
track Road America, I ease the clutch out at a modest 2500 rpm
or so, then gently roll into the throttle. Since I'd never driven
this car, I took it easy. Or at least I thought I was taking
Nope. Despite those good intentions, I practically boil the
rear tires into sticky goo. Faced with 500 lb-ft of torque
at just 3750 rpm, the GT's rubber succumbs with frightening
ease -- the burnout happened with such an uncanny effortlessness
that it seemed like a video game. As we regain traction, we
quickly blur to a brisk pace and reach the first turn at a pleasing
clip. From there we head downhill to turn three/four, then get
on the gas for what the GT has been begging for -- the long,
open Moraine Sweep. The acceleration is intoxicating. With a
feverish whine and a deep roar, the car is handily propelled
to 130 mph. It's easily good for plenty more too.
At the end of the straight, the big brakes haul us down with
reassuring authority, aided by easy pedal modulation. A quick
flick of my right foot proves heel-and-toe downshifts to be
delightfully simple in the GT. Then we're back on the gas. The
GT flies through the turn with terrific grip and practically
no body lean.
After that comes a short uphill straight, another tight turn,
then another. The GT's steering is weighted a bit lighter than
one might expect for a serious performance car, but it's nice.
Most importantly, it communicates well. That's not surprising
-- pretty much everything about the GT inspires confidence.
Just minutes after getting into the car, you feel ready to go
fast. It's easy to drive by any standards, much less by super
But lapsing my attention to ponder that notion, the car's back
end steps way out at about 70 mph. Yikes! Fortunately, we weren't
at the point of no return and I recovered quickly with a flick
of the steering
wheel. Nonetheless, the suddenness of the tail swing serves
as an important reminder that this is a serious, hardcore machine,
no matter how friendly its overall demeanor.
As we haul through another long open stretch and round the tight
Canada Corner, we're near the end of our designated lap. Another
few turns follow and we slow to bring the GT back into the pits.
After I shut the car down, my big giddy grin remains. As a journalist,
I'm as jaded as anybody. But it's hard not to gush about the
GT. My day is made.
I've just encountered true greatness, and I know it.
Do you want to test-drive cars like this too? Find out how
you can, at http://www.autiv.com/
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