Ford of Britain negotiating hard to secure a decent official supply of the 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 supercar, which is expected to cost £240,000

Ford of Britain boss Andy Barratt is “fighting very hard” to ensure a sizeable allocation of the highly anticipated Ford GT for the British market, although fewer than 20 cars could go on sale here through official import channels each year.

The concept version of the new halo car for the Ford Performance sub-brand visited Britain last week as part of a tour of Ford’s key global markets, and company chiefs reported a “huge” level of interest in the car, which is expected to cost around £240,000 in Britain.

Production of the GT will commence in Canada near the end of 2016. Although Ford hasn’t officially declared the number of examples it will build in total, the run will be restricted to 250 per year. Overall production numbers will be far fewer than the 2005 GT, of which around 4000 were produced between 2005-06.

“I’m fighting very hard for the allocation because when we produced the last GT, 101 came to Europe and only 28 officially came to the UK,” said Barratt, who started his new role as Ford of Britain’s chairman and managing director last month. “We haven’t declared the absolute run for this GT, but the numbers are going to be a lot lower than the 2005 car.

“Selfishly, seven per cent of Ford’s global sales are in the UK, so my argument is ‘can we have seven per cent [of the production run]?’. I want as many as I can because it is such an iconic car.”

If Barratt succeeds in securing seven per cent of the GT’s production run, it would suggest that 17-18 of the annual total of 250 cars would officially go on sale here. It's expected that the total run over the course of the car's production won't exceed 1000 units, meaning the supercar will remain a rare sight on UK roads.

The Ford GT will be sold in global markets, including Europe. Ford's group vice president and chief technical officer, Raj Nair said: "It will be made in a limited series, even more exclusive than the 2005 GT." Ford design boss Moray Callum also confirmed that availability would mean hundreds of units, rather than thousands.

The Ford GT concept was developed in secret at the company’s Dearborn HQ. Ford’s global project chief, Raj Nair, said: “We had meetings in evenings just to avoid being spotted.”

The GT’s tub and bodywork are made from carbonfibre, which design chief Moray Callum says gave the team “a new level of flexibility” in terms of what could be achieved. “This shape wouldn’t be possible in steel,” he added.

Even the wheel rims are carbonfibre, offering a weight saving of 40% compared with aluminium, according to Ford.

According to chief engineer Jamal Hameedi, who was also responsible for the previous-generation GT, the heavily tapered fuselage was inspired by Formula 1 and LMP1 cars. The GT is also the first Ford to feature active aerodynamics, with a three-stage rear wing that doubles as an airbrake.

The focus on aero efficiency has led to an exceptionally compact cabin. Carbonfibre seats are fixed and moulded into the base of the chassis.

To accommodate different drivers, the pedals will move fore and aft by up to 200mm. The concept, which Ford says has key advantages for crash performance and packaging, has led to a rethink of the control layout. All the main functions are grouped on the steering wheel, ahead of which is a digital display that will change appearance according to the driving mode. Callum said the choice of interior materials was inspired by the Space Shuttle.

The all-new Ford GT has been spotted in unofficial spy pictures on the road and officially on static display at motor shows and events.

First unveiled at the Detroit motor show in January this year, and subsequently shown in Geneva in March, the road car will compete against cars such as the Ferrari 488 GTB, McLaren 675LT and Lamborghini Aventador and act as a showcase for the cutting-edge technology Ford intends to use on future mass-market models.

Ford officials have already confirmed the show car is very close to the production version which will go on sale. Dave Pericak, the Ford performance boss, said of the GT: "We didn't unveil a concept car. This car is 95% how the production car will look."

The GT road car will be built in Canada by Multimatic Motorsports, which has worked with Ford on its race programmes for more than 30 years. It will start production late next year and will hit showrooms before the end of 2016.

Power comes from a mid-mounted 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine that develops more than 600bhp and is mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox. The car's body - predominantly carbonfibre, with aluminium structures at either end to house the engine and suspension - is expected to result in a light kerb weight. Indeed, Ford says the GT will have one of the best power-to-weight ratios "of any production car".

Though performance details have yet to be revealed, Ford says the new model will offer "outstanding acceleration and handling with improved efficiency".

"This is the ultimate Ford, a new halo," said Nair. "The ultimate embodiment of all our innovation - everything from the wheels, aerodynamics, engine. All this new technology is important for future Fords. The GT is the flagship for this innovation, and that's why we're building it.

"There are loads of new innovations here, and the hi-tech Ecoboost engine is a perfect fit for the car," he added. "The 3.5 V6 has more power than the 6.2 V8, and better economy. That blend of performance with efficiency is so important."

The new GT's styling keeps hints of the look of its predecessors by sitting low and wide and riding on 20-inch wheels shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup rubber. The suspension is a torsion bar and pushrod arrangement, and incorporates adjustable ride height settings. Carbon-ceramic brake discs feature in all four corners.

It also features a rear wing that is height and pitch adjustable depending on driver input, and a large rear diffuser.

"Aero plays key role in efficiency - there's fully active aero. The teardrop shape is very efficient and the body surfaces reduce drag," said Nair. "It's important to improve aerodynamics to aid efficiency, and also cooling, because these smaller, power-dense engines need plenty of cooling."

Inside, the two-seat GT offers what Ford calls a "purposeful" interior, which is accessed via upward-swinging doors. The driver and passenger seats are bolted directly into the floor.

The rear-wheel-drive GT is one of 12 new models that will be launched under the Ford Performance banner by 2020. Other vehicles that will form part of the Performance sub-brand include the Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350 and recently unveiled GT350R.

The new GT will come to market to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford's GT race cars placing first, second and third at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Speaking at the unveiling of the model, Ford boss Mark Fields said the company had been "thinking and kicking around ideas about how we can use innovation to make the ultimate Ford performance vehicle".

Callum says that fewer than 50 people saw the GT before its Detroit unveiling - something which, combined with the lack of focus groups, he says has been a massive help.

The Ford GT will be one of the headline cars within the new Ford Performance sub-brand. Nair believed that Ford Performance vehicles would have a positive effect on the Blue Oval's conventional model range.

"It's good for business to make cars like this," he said. "Performance vehicles attract new customers, keep existing customers and allow us to bring in younger, wealthier buyers into the brand.

"There's an obvious, large new investment in Ford Performance. The real fun is to watch how these new cars will influence future Ford products. Performance is our passion, but importantly innovation with cars like this drives the rest of the range.

"Ford Performance is a halo under which we will deliver performance cars. It will increase our engineering capabilities. Cars like this are a proving ground for passionate engineers.

"[Cars like this] generate great business - sales have been up 70% in the US since 2009, and even more so in Europe. They are bought by younger and better educated buyers."

He added that existing hot ST-branded models helped lay the groundwork for Ford Performance: "ST has helped us create this foundation: 65% of ST buyers are new to the brand. 50 per cent of performance Ford buyers buy a Ford as their next car. 50 per cent of ST buyers are under 35, and 30% earn $100k or more a year."

Nair said a hybrid system would not have suited the new Ford GT's attributes: "We've a lot of work going on around electrification, but the GT is all about efficiency. It's not hybrid because it would add too much weight. We chose to reduce weight, a real focus as this benefits all attributes."

As for the timing of the confirmation of the new GT model, Nair said: "[2014] was a good year for sales [2014] but even through the tough times we've always invested in performance models. Doing it now is not because we're doing well as a company, but instead it's about where we are with the technology.

"Cars like this are embodied in our DNA. I can't imagine our company not producing cars like this. It's good for us and it's in our blood."

Ford will go racing with the new GT next year in order to celebrate the 50th anniversary of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours with the original Ford GT. Read more about how Ford developed the new GT for both road and track here.

Q&A with Moray Callum, Ford design boss

How do you set about redesigning a classic?

"It was important to us to design a car that was all about how you'd design a car with the ethos of the GT40 today, as opposed to redesigning the GT40. Yes, we wanted to pay homage to what had gone before - and there are details all over the car that do that - but there majority of the car was created to achieve today's goals.

"Above all, it couldn't be a cartoon of what went before. Frankly, the availability of materials like carbon fibre make things possible today that weren't even close to being available all those years ago."

How quickly did the project come together?

"Incredibly quickly. We did a quick scale model, then a full size one in foam and then a clay model really fast. There was a team of seven or eight designers working on the car in a room that we opened and kept out-of-bounds.

"It was a skunkworks project, and we were having meetings in the evenings and at weekends to ensure word didn't get out. That had the benefit of meaning decisions were made quickly and by a tight group."

How early was the powertrain set?

"Very early on, and that helped. We could fix the plan view, work out the cooling requirements, the frontal area and proportions and so on. Having an EcoBoost engine also validates the car - it makes it relevant. But the packaging is still tight, we've had to work very closely with engineering to meet their requirements, hit the aero targets and achieve our design goals."

How close is this car on display to reality?

"Probably 95 per cent. The project is ongoing and developing, but it'll be things like the door mirrors and headlamps that might be refined, nothing more. The intriguing aspect is that a lot of this car is a genuine test bed for us: we're learning so much about construction techniques, material usage, aerodynamic influences and so on."

Additional reporting by Alistair Weaver

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Join the debate

Comments
22

12 January 2015
Does anybody else think that this has remarkable aesthetic similarities to the recent Lamborghini Asterion?

12 January 2015
carmad wrote:
Does anybody else think that this has remarkable aesthetic similarities to the recent Lamborghini Asterion?
My first thoughts were that there is something vaguely Lamborghini-ish about the look of the car from the front quarter view. Either way, I like the look of it, it's distinctive and dramatic looking, something that can't be said about the rather conservative 650S or forthcoming NSX.

12 January 2015
Yes, but although I agree with this I wish that they had tried something a bit more unique. Some details also look Ferrari-esque in my opinion.

12 January 2015
I thought the same thing.

289

14 January 2015
....Bloody good effort Ford!

30 July 2015
As many as twenty cars a year mean that in the current climate where everyone wants a premium brand this is quite a big seller for the Blue Oval.

12 January 2015
Ridiculously better looking than the 650S/Sports Series, Huracan (all sadly) and the 458. Best 'first impression' I have had for a long time. Love those flying buttresses. Shame no manual though. Would suit it.

12 January 2015
Looks fantastic! Although, for some reason, the exhausts and the rear in general remind me of Chief Wiggum from the Simpsons haha

12 January 2015
It's incredibly frustrating to see a medium-sized image on the Autocar.co.uk homepage, click on the article to see more detail and find that the article page only offers SMALLER images. That's totally back-to-front. In today's HD monitor era, to offer photos that fill a maximum of about 8% of my screen is rubbish. I now have to visit a competitor website to get my fix of this beautiful piece of metal... That can't be the Autocar business plan!

12 January 2015
Totally agree.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport
    First Drive
    25 May 2016
    The new Clubsport fits the anniversary GTI mould perfectly - but it's still not the best Golf on sale
  • McLaren 570GT
    First Drive
    25 May 2016
    The entry-level McLaren perfected for the broadest audience. Brilliant to drive, with impressive cruising manners and enhanced usability
  • JE Motorworks Defender automatic
    First Drive
    24 May 2016
    The king is dead, long live the king. Are upgrades the best way to breathe new life into your Defender?
  • Car review
    23 May 2016
    Jaguar takes a typically sporting approach to its first SUV
  • Audi RS7 Performance
    First Drive
    20 May 2016
    Did Audi's RS7 need an extra 44bhp and 37lb ft? No, it didn't. Regardless, this Performance model has just that – and we've driven it in the UK