FORD REVEALS GT40 CONCEPT CAR - 500HP/500lb.ft.
A supercharged MOD 5.4-liter V-8
engine, an aluminum spaceframe and a competition-tuned
suspension provide the performance credentials of Ford's
More than a styling exercise, the mechanical execution
of the GT40 concept is as much a part of the cars
essence as is its design. And, while much of the hardware
has been custom-fabricated for the show car, one can
only imagine how easily it could be brought into production,
either in GT40 form or on another Ford Living Legend.
To ensure that the vehicles mechanicals met with
the expectations that would be required of a vehicle
bearing the GT40 name, Ford turned to Special Vehicle
Team Engineering. SVT engineering chief John Coletti
vehicle engineering manager Fred
Goodnow led the project from its inception.
"GT40 is the ultimate Living Legend," explains
J Mays, Ford vice president of Design. "It’s a
true supercar with appeal equal to that of the greatest
sports cars in the world, but with the addition of a
heritage no one can match. Essential elements of the
original – including the stunning low profile and mid-mounted
American V-8 – continue in this latest interpretation
of the classic."
While the new concept and the original both share the
mystique of the GT40 name, they share not a single dimension.
The concept is more than a foot and a half longer and
stands nearly four inches taller. Its new lines draw
upon and refine the best features of GT40 history and
express the car’s identity through modern proportion
and surface development.
The GT40 concept casts the familiar, sleek silhouette
of its namesake, yet every dimension, every curve and
every line on the car is a unique reinterpretation of
the original. The GT40 features a long front overhang
reminiscent of 1960s-era racecars. But its sweeping
cowl, subtle accent lines and fiber-optic headlamps
strike a distinctly contemporary pose.
The front fenders curve over 18-inch wheels and Goodyear
white-lettered tires. In the tradition of championship
racers, the doors cut into the roof. Prominent on the
leading edge of the rear quarter panel are functional
cooling scoops that channel fresh air to the engine.
The rear wheel wells, filled with 19-inch Goodyear tires,
define the rear of the car, while the accent line from
the front cowl rejoins and finishes the car’s profile
at the integrated "ducktail" spoiler.
The interior design incorporates the novel "ventilated
seats" and instrument layout of the original car, with
straightforward analog gauges and large tachometer.
Modern versions of the original car’s toggle switches
operate key systems.
"Like its namesake, the GT40 concept is not over-wrought
with advanced technologies," Mays says. "While
it represents the best of Ford design, engineering and
expertise, it is a no-frills machine. You won't find
voice-activated telematics here – not even power windows
– just pure, refined performance."
Looking in through the backlight, one finds the essence
of the sports car in the MOD 5.4-liter V-8 engine and
its complex array of polished stainless-steel header
pipes, braided stainless steel fuel lines with
anodized aluminum fittings and
supercharger with intercooler.
"The GT40 concept should do three things: go fast,
handle exceptionally and look great," says Chris
Theodore, Ford’s vice president of North America Product
Development. "To be true to its Ford heritage,
we had to create a supercar that would be uniquely a
Ford. Anyone can do technology showpieces, high-displacement
engines and modernistic designs, but there’s much more
to a GT40. There’s heritage and heart. We think this
car remains true to the spirit of its predecessors."
All-new Aluminum Chassis
Rather than modifying an existing platform for the
GT40 concept, SVT chassis engineers created an all-new
aluminum spaceframe. Constructed of extruded sections
and aluminum panels, the spaceframe provides a rigid
foundation for the engine and driveline while permitting
the use of the specially fabricated composite body panels.
The spaceframe consists of a central cabin section,
a front suspension sub-section, and a rear powertrain-chassis
cradle, bolted together for rigidity.
While the original GT40s owed their chassis stiffness
to a pair of beefy sills that doubled as fuel reservoirs,
the new concept relies on a single center tunnel for
its backbone. While greatly improving entry and exit,
it has the added benefit of providing a structurally
secure location for the fuel supply.
The concept's suspension has been fabricated almost
entirely from scratch. The layout, front and rear, uses
unequal-length control arms and a push-rod/bell-crank
system to interface with the horizontally mounted spring-damper
units. Mounting the spring-damper units horizontally
allowed the designers to achieve the characteristic
low-slung GT40 profile.
At the wheels, engineers chose Alcon 6-piston monoblock
calipers and dinner-plate-sized cross-drilled discs
for excellent stopping power from high speeds.
The wheels themselves 18 inches at the front
and 19 inches at the rear were custom-fabricated
for the concept car and are wrapped by substantial Goodyear
raised-white-letter tires. In an age when concept-
car tires have been likened to
giant black rubber bands, the GT40 concept is proud
to have a relatively tall 45-series sidewall
a throwback to the original car.
"We could build a 200-mph supercar and fill it
with a range of cutting-edge technologies, but it wouldn't
be Ford GT40," says Coletti. "But rest assured:
If this car meets an Italian exotic on a winding road
or finds itself at a stoplight next to an American muscle
car, it will have no trouble defending its honor."
Supercharged MOD 5.4L V-8
More than three decades ago, when the European competition
was busy building complicated, high-strung V-12s, Ford
proved that a simpler, more traditional V-8 approach
could provide competitive power, a tremendous torque
advantage, and the reliability needed for endurance
Todays MOD 5.4-liter V-8
builds on that heritage. In this application, the largest
V-8 in Ford's modular engine family produces 500 horsepower
at 5250 rpm and 500 foot-pounds of torque at 3250 rpm.
Both figures are comparable to those of the 7-liter
engine that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and
"The Ford MOD engines are
great performance engines that allow so much versatility
for us as engineers and for our customers who love to
modify their cars," says Coletti. "This application
really demonstrates its awesome potential."
The all-aluminum MOD V-8 has been
fitted with high-flow, four-valve cylinder heads and
dual overhead camshafts. To bear the stresses necessary
to produce 500 horsepower, Coletti used a forged steel
crankshaft, shot-peened H-beam connecting rods from
Manley, and forged aluminum pistons from Karl Schmidt
Unisia. The engine uses a modified Roots-type supercharger
from Eaton with an intercooled intake.
Behind the 9-inch heavy-duty McLeod
clutch, the SVT team installed a special transaxle to
accommodate the mid-engine layout. Sourced from RBT,
the close-ratio six-speed uses internal components from
transmission manufacturer ZF. It is fully synchronized
and features an integral limited-slip differential.
What’s Next for GT40?
The GT40 concept was created to foretell and test
the future of exciting Ford cars to come. As with other
Living Legends concepts – including the 1999 Thunderbird
concept and Forty-Nine concept – the GT40 was engineered
from the beginning for production feasibility. Ford’s
SVT Engineering – which also created performance versions
of the Focus, Mustang Cobra and F-Series Lightning –
developed the chassis and powertrain. SVT Engineering
worked closely with Living Legends designers to ensure
the concept would live up to its performance heritage.