What's is it?
Here’s a novelty: a first drive of a car that isn’t being made any more. Ford GT production stopped last autumn, in fact, but there are still a few unsold in the States and Roush Engineering, Ford’s engine development partner for the GT project (read: they made the motors), decided it wasn’t quite done with it. So it is taking ten of the last ones and upping their poke from 550- to 600bhp. This is not your usual run-out special edition.
Now, the last time I drove a Ford GT, it didn’t occur to me that it needed more power. Roush, however, has extracted 600bhp at 6200rpm and 550lb ft at 3800rpm from the car's 5.4-litre V8. The major mechanical change is a smaller pulley for the supercharger and a smaller belt to go round it. Ergo, the rotor spins faster, forces more air into cylinders, and gets a bigger bang out the other end. Easy. There’s also a freer flowing Tubi exhaust and an uprated transmission-oil cooler.
Other mods include a plaque on the centre console, stickers on the flanks if you want them, new sill kick-plates and arguably the horniest wheels on the planet. Body colour? It depends what’s left: all ten 600 REs are being sold through Avro Motor Cars of Brooklands off their existing order bank. Last week five were left, in black, red and tungsten body colours.
The price is £141,000, which is quite a lot more than the £120,900 this car was new, but close enough to the price of the few remaining standard GTs retailing over here at the moment to look like a real bargain.
What's it like
Still brilliant. The chassis has been left alone so this is a still a sublime and, strange as it sounds, easy car to drive. Sure, it’s wide, visibility to the offside rear quarter is poor, and it tramlines a bit, but the GT has a wonderfully smooth drivetrain. Pedal feel is consistent, the gearshift the smoothest in supercardom, and the steering’s consistently weighted, linear, responsive and accurate.
Traction is fine, too, so even in damp conditions, driving the 600 RE (which comes without stability or traction control) is not a scary business unless you want it to be. In any gear, at any engine speed above tickover, wonderfully addictive thrust is on the cards. I’ve had a look at the power curve for this particular 600 RE (612.6bhp at 6176rpm) and despite the extra power it’s incredibly smooth and linear.
The chassis is adept at letting it deliver, too. The GT rides extremely well: it’s firm, but supple, and its ability to keep its wheels on the deck and within the realms of traction while deploying 600bhp onto a Surrey B-road is a thing of some wonderment.
What isn’t, still, is the noise. I’m assured it’s brilliant from the outside, but inside, like the regular car, the Roush’s noise is dominated by the supercharger rather than the exhaust.
Should I buy one?
The Ford GT has always been a supercar in the truest, most undiluted, most epic sense. If you like the idea of buying one tweaked by its maker so it’s a bit quicker, a bit more powerful and as spine-tingling as possible, then there's no question. You simply have to go an see Avro Motors. And soon.