Just about extraordinary enough to justify the price

What is it?

Remember the Roush 600 RE variant of the Ford GT? It was a ten-off special edition conceived by Avro Motor Cars of Brooklands and prepared by Roush engineering in Essex, who did a lot of the Ford GT’s development in the first place.

The Avro 720 Mirage is a similar idea. Again it’s commissioned by Avro and prepared by Roush, only this time, for two reasons, the stakes are somewhat higher.

For one, instead of the RE's 600bhp (the regular GT had 550), the Mirage makes 720bhp, courtesy of a larger Whipple supercharger, a new induction system comprising Accufab throttle bodies, and an Accufab ceramic-coated exhaust.

Secondly, unregistered GTs are now getting extremely hard to find. Andy McGrath of Avro reckons that, when he commissioned the 600 RE, there were 300-400 available in the US. Now, there are 30-40, many owned by people who aren’t inclined to sell them.

Nonetheless, Avro is confident it can find ten, at a price that means at least the first five Mirages will retail at £179,950. For that, as well as the seemingly ludicrous amount of power, you get 627lb ft of torque, orange paint with matt black detailing, some identifying trim, a delimited 220mph top speed, uprated AP brakes, a 25mm suspension drop with 5mm wider tracks and adjustable KW Variant suspension.

What’s it like?

Ludicrously, absurdly fast, but not unbearable or un-driveable. In fact, the regular GT’s character is very much intact.

I have in front of me a power and torque graph for the 720 Mirage, measured on Roush’s own rolling road, which I suspect is quite a good one. The power on this model builds extremely linearly from around 150bhp at 1700rpm, to – get this – 745.5bhp at the flywheel at 6550rpm. Yep, 720bhp may be a conservative estimate.

The torque chart curves gently from an already monstrous 450lb ft at just 1500rpm, to its 627lb ft peak at 5660rpm. And that makes the Mirage just as tractable, just as driveable at low revs, as a regular GT.

The suspension modifications means it rides a tad more firmly, with a little more control, but not enough to spoil this car’s approachability and surprising comfort. To be honest, if I hadn’t been told about the suspension tweaks, I’m not sure I’d have noticed much difference.

The steering and controls are unchanged, too. The steering is consistently light, direct, accurate and extremely linear; like you’d imagine a big, power-assisted Lotus’s would be. The gearshift is excellent, too.

What you cannnot fail to notice – even given the years interlude since I last drove a standard GT – is just how preposterously quickly this car goes. It’s not from a standstill that it impresses most – the regular GT’s performance is hard to use off the line, too – it’s the way that the Mirage keeps going, and going, and going.

It’ll spin its wheels through most of second gear in the dry, and it thinks about having a chirrup as you change to third, too. And still the acceleration doesn’t seem to dry up. You’d need a huge airfield to use up the reserves of this car’s acceleration. How does it feel to have this much power under your right peg? It feels absolutely bloody marvellous.

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Should I buy one?

Peculiar question, this. The Mirage treads a fine line. On the one hand it justifies its price by being an exclusive, unrepeatable opportunity, and an instantly recognisable one. On the other hand it’s a GT with go-faster bits you could readily buy elsewhere. Either way, it’s a pretty fabulous car. And this derivative of the GT, Avro says, is definitely the last.

Matt Prior

Matt Prior
Title: Editor-at-large

Matt is Autocar’s lead features writer and presenter, is the main face of Autocar’s YouTube channel, presents the My Week In Cars podcast and has written his weekly column, Tester’s Notes, since 2013.

Matt is an automotive engineer who has been writing and talking about cars since 1997. He joined Autocar in 2005 as deputy road test editor, prior to which he was road test editor and world rally editor for Channel 4’s automotive website, 4Car. 

Into all things engineering and automotive from any era, Matt is as comfortable regularly contributing to sibling titles Move Electric and Classic & Sports Car as he is writing for Autocar. He has a racing licence, and some malfunctioning classic cars and motorbikes. 

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Lotus Man 31 January 2011

Re: Ford GT Avro Mirage 720

I drove this exact car this weekend - my friend bought it from AVRO and I can honestly say that I have never been in anything so brutal in my whole life....

Still smiling....!

NiallOswald 22 April 2008

Re: Ford GT Avro Mirage 720

Not sure how they'd lose 3-400kg over the regular Ford GT - doesn't mention weight saving in the article. Not that it particularly needs it with that amount of go! (Original GT40 was about 1200kg, for what it's worth).

I have in front of me a power and torque graph for the 720 Mirage, measured on Roush’s own rolling road, which I suspect is quite a good one.

Call me a cynic, but of all the rolling-road printouts, surely the one you can trust the *least* is one from the company who tuned the car, especially if you've handed over a large sum of money for the pleasure. Vested interests and all that. I'm not suggesting that's the case here (Roush being a well-respected firm etc etc) but I'm sure plenty of it goes on, so I question the logic in the above statement. Plus, rolling roads can only reliably give power 'at the wheels' despite what they might have you believe.

Anyways, it sounds like an amazing car, even more so because it's not a complete nightmare. I don't mind the orange paintjob at all - I wonder if it's still (in true cheap kit-car fashion, JJ ;) ) got Focus indicator stalks though? Did make me laugh when I spotted that...