The new Ford GT was meant to be a Mustang, you know. A Mustang with which Ford would return to Le Mans in 2016 to have a crack at winning a class, some 50 years after it won the whole thing outright with the GT40. At least, that was the plan. The engineers called it Project Silver, after the Lone Ranger’s horse.
Trouble is that, like Silver was a big nag, the Mustang is a big car, so it has a large frontal area, which is bad for aerodynamics and therefore bad for going fast. And the more Ford modified the Mustang for GT racing, the less of a Mustang it became, until they figured they’d never win a damned thing with it while it was recognisably a Mustang, and officially canned the project.
Making the Ford GT less Mustang, and more GT
At least, that’s how the story now goes. They say that the Le Mans project then became completely unofficial, a skunk-works outfit with fewer than 20 designers and engineers hidden in a design studio in a basement behind a padlocked door, determined not to let it go and coming up with an outline design for the rebirth of the GT instead, probably slipping some clay and wheels through on expenses as ‘new pencils’ or something.
Certainly, it put a few noses out of joint when they eventually showed it to the whole design and management team, but the upshot was that they had designed the new GT. And, oh my: grandma, what a small frontal area you have.
The GT, then – very much like the original GT40 and quite unlike the GT of 2005 – was designed primarily to go racing. But GT racing rules being what they are, if you’re not designing a top-pace LMP prototype, you have to make road versions.
It’s long (4779mm) and low (1063mm, or 41.8in), and wide (2003mm in the body, 2238mm to the mirrors). Not that you’d know it was that wide from inside the cabin, which sits its occupants almost as close together as you would be in a Caterham.
That’s not something that Aston Martin or Ferrari could do in a road car because you wouldn’t buy an Aston if you kept elbowing your passenger, but this isn’t fundamentally a road car. That’s a theme you might notice we keep coming back to.