The Ford GT is an American mid-engine two-seater sports car manufactured and marketed by Ford.
The GT recalls Ford's historically significant GT40, consecutive four-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1966-1969), including a 1-2-3 finish in 1966.
The Ford GT began life as a concept car designed in anticipation of the automaker's centennial year and as part of its drive to showcase and revive its "heritage" names such as Mustang and Thunderbird. At the 2002 auto show, Ford unveiled a new GT40 Concept car. Camilo Pardo, the head of Ford's "Living Legends" studio, is credited as the chief designer of the GT and worked under the guidance of J Mays. Carroll Shelby, the original designer of the Shelby GT 500, was brought in by Ford to help develop the Ford GT; which included performance testing of the prototype car. While the project was still secret, it was called Petunia.
The GT is similar in outward appearance to the original Ford GT40, but bigger, wider, and most importantly 3 in (76 mm) taller than the original 40 in (100 cm) overall height; as a result, a potential name for the car was the GT43. Although the cars are visually related, structurally, there is no similarity between the modern GT and the 1960s GT40 that inspired it. Three production prototype cars were shown to the public in 2003 as part of Ford's centenary, and delivery of the production version called simply the Ford GT began in the fall of 2004.
As the Ford GT was built as part of the company's 100th anniversary celebration, the left headlight cluster was designed to read "100".
A British company, Safir Engineering, who built continuation GT40 cars in the 1980s, owned the "GT40" trademark at that time. When production of the continuation cars ended, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small Ohio based company called Safir GT40 Spares. This company licensed the use of the "GT40" trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car. When Ford decided to put the GT40 concept to production stage, negotiations between the two firms failed, thus the production cars do not wear the GT40 badge and are simply called the GT.
The GT was produced for the 2005 and 2006 model years. The car began assembly at Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio and was painted by Saleen at their Saleen Special Vehicles facility in Troy, Michigan. The GT is powered by an engine built at Ford's Romeo Engine Plant in Romeo, Michigan. Installation of the engine and manual transmission along with interior finishing was handled in the SVT building at Ford's Wixom, Michigan plant.
Of the 4,500 GTs originally planned, approximately 100 were to be exported to Europe, starting in late 2005. An additional 200 cars were destined for sale in Canada. Production ended in September 2006 without reaching the planned production target. Approximately 550 cars were built in 2004, nearly 1,900 in 2005, and just over 1,600 in 2006, for a grand total of 4,038 cars. The final 11 car bodies manufactured by Mayflower Vehicle Systems were disassembled, and the frames and body panels were sold as service parts. The Wixom Assembly Plant has stopped production of all models as of May 31, 2007. Sales of the GT continued into 2007, from cars held in storage and in dealer inventories.
When the Ford GT was first announced, the demand outpaced supply, and the cars initially sold for premium prices. The first private sale of Ford's new mid-engine sports car was completed on August 4, 2004, when former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley took delivery of his Midnight Blue 2005 Ford GT. Shirley earned the right to purchase the first production Ford GT (chassis #10) at a charity auction at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Auction after bidding over $557,000.
A few other early cars sold for as much as a US$100,000 premium over the suggested retail price of $139,995 (Ford increased the MSRP to $149,995 on July 1, 2005). Optional equipment available included a McIntosh sound system, racing stripes, painted brake calipers, and forged alloy wheels adding $13,500 to the MSRP.
During the GT's production run, the car was featured on the cover of the video game Gran Turismo 4, and was also featured in Need for Speed: ProStreet, as well as being made into physical form in the Transformers: Alternators toyline, which featured realistic cars turning into Cybertronians; the Ford GT mold was used for the characters Mirage and Rodimus.
The GT won Top Gear's Gas Guzzler of the Year award in 2005. One of the show's presenters, Jeremy Clarkson, owned a GT and despite initially reserving high acclaim for the vehicle, ultimately requested a refund from Ford due to extensive problems with the car's aftermarket alarm system.