This modest approach reflects the remarkable character of Larry Holt, who has spent 30 years building teams of Multimatic engineering experts on either side of the Atlantic, by concentrating only on those client companies who need to know.
Now Holt and Multimatic have started doing something different. Having been partners with Ford in the GT project since the very beginning of the skunkworks design phase, the firm has moved to making the road car model – the first time it has ever made cars to a fully finished stage, ready to go to owners.
It is into the second year of manufacture and has already put about 150 hand-built GTs on the road, mostly in the US. The operation has now moved out of its build- up phase and is running at the planned production rate of one a day, en route to the ultimate target of producing 1000 cars by the end of 2020. To mark the milestone, Multimatic invited Autocar in to see how it’s done.
Until now, the GT has been best known as a Le Mans class winner, having achieved in 2016 its creators’ desire to emulate the GT40’s famous 1966 one-two-three victory on its 50th anniversary. Multimatic’s competition division, in conjunction with Chip Ganassi Racing, achieved the Le Mans milestone with what almost seemed like ease, although the racing GTs have laboured since with the rule-makers’ obsession with ‘balance of performance’ (aka giving the others a chance).
The GTs have been so handicapped that at times they’ve had to race with their engine outputs turned down to produce around 20% less power than the standard 655bhp road car. Even so, the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team still finished last year’s World Endurance Championship in second place.
What makes the Ford GT so hard to beat? According to Holt, it’s the fact that the car was designed from the start to be a Le Mans racer. The weight has been designed to be very low for a supercar (under 1400kg at the kerb) and the whole machine is created with a low frontal area.
Holt says: “When you’re talking aero, people will always tell you your car needs a low drag coefficient [Cd], but experience soon teaches you that lowering a Cd is tough on a racing car. It is far better to cut the frontal area, which is what we’ve done with the GT. Ours is only 1.85 square metres whereas a Ferrari 488 GTE is around 2.15 square metres. Of course, it means the driver and passenger have to get to know one another very well in the cabin – there isn’t a lot of sprawling room – but that comes of driving a race car.”