Foot to the floor, I flick the paddle shifters and charge up behind the car far ahead, as the turbos maximize the potential of the turbocharged, 3.5-liter powerplant. The dual-clutch trans shifts to briskly push the car forward and when the time comes, the binders are up to the task of keeping this machine’s carbon fiber nose clean.
This car is low, fast, and riding on carbon fiber wheels that cost more than an automotive scribe can muster in a lifetime.
Peering in the mirror, I see an opening to change lanes and go around the slower traffic. I take it, but the opening doesn’t last long. It’s not because this is a crowded racetrack, rather it is historic Woodward Avenue just days before the iconic Dream Cruise, and I am behind the wheel of a Ford GT.
It is a moment that I had all but given up on experiencing. After all, only 1,350 examples of the company’s flagship supercar are slated for production through 2022 and all have already been spoken for in advance. You may recall that there was a rigorous selection process that honored those deemed worthy with a shot at scooping up the $450,000 supercar.
That last tidbit is exactly why I had surrendered the dream of wheeling one at all. The price and complexity of these machines makes them rare even around Ford, and with them all being sold, it’s not like the company needs any help getting the word out.
Having said that, I have longed for a shot at driving one. When the previous-generation Ford GT arrived, I actually drove it on the racetrack and the street. The latter experience was shared with my magazine cohorts at the time over more than a week. Yet, in comparison, more than 4,000 of those cars were built in two years and they sold for just under $150,000. By today’s standards, they were plentiful and affordable.
Yet here I was blasting down Woodward in the supercar that Ford secretly designed in a basement and shocked the world with in 2015. I sat in the audience at the Cobo Center when it debuted at the North American International Auto Show and my jaw dropped. The car was stunning, and as we would learn, it is a technical tour de force as well.
Essentially, the Ford GT is a street-legal race car built by the same group at Multimatic that created the Le Mans-winning racers, and powered by a refined version of the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 first deployed in the Daytona Prototype road racers. Backed by a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, the twin-turbo six is fueled by a dual-fuel system — featuring both port and direct injection — and pumps out 647 horsepower and 550 lb-ft of torque. It resides in an aluminum rear subframe mounted to a carbon-fiber passenger cell fronted by an aluminum front subframe and wrapped in carbon fiber body panels. All told, it only weighs around 3,150 pounds.
Before the party started, I spun the dial on the left of the steering wheel to change the drive mode from Normal to Sport to Track. Wet and V-max modes wouldn’t be necessary, and Track was just for fun. In Sport, the ground clearance remains at 120 millimeters, but the calibration sharpens. Switching it to Track, the supercar ratchets down to just 70mm above the earth’s surface, while the spring rates ramp up and the rear wing deploys to increase the downforce in less than two seconds. It was impractical for cruising the boulevard, so dialing back to Sport was the move.
My level of anticipation and angst were equally high leading up to my brief tryst with the mystical machine. It was like a first date with a crush: it was exciting, but you just don’t want to screw it up. This car is low, fast, and riding on carbon fiber wheels that cost more than an automotive scribe can muster in a lifetime.
Yet, once I navigated the parking lot exit and pulled onto Woodward Avenue, the nerves faded away. Maybe it’s because I was buckled into a seat bolted directly to the heralded carbon fiber tub, so the nuances of the road transmitted to my hindquarters. They provided a faint reminder that this was an all-out race car tamed for the street — at least when you want it to be.
At first I was just getting used to the inputs and waiting for my chance. After a few quick bursts letting the DCT handle the shifting, I played around with the paddles and held it in gear for some short bursts. This afforded a chance to sample the massive stoppers. With six-piston Brembo calipers clamping down on 394x36mm rotors in front and four-piston monobloc calipers squeezing 360x32mm carbon ceramic matrix rotors in back, the stopping power is impressive. They would come in handy later as my bravery increased.
After enduring thick 5 o’clock traffic on Detroit’s main street, things finally opened up as I headed north. With a bit of open road, I stood on the throttle and banged through the gears. The car launched forward without a hint of slip, and the power just kept building as the revs rose. Given the environment, I couldn’t stay in it long, but the EcoBoost six-banger doing work right behind me definitely earned a new level of respect. With this kind of power-to-weight ratio, you don’t miss a V8, and even when the transmission control module handles the shifts, the car stays in the powerband and keeps pulling.
By the time I looped around and headed back for the Ford display along Woodward Avenue, I had gotten comfortable behind the wheel and addicted to the thrust of the EcoBoost supercar. Still, it begged to be on the racetrack unfettered by Motor City traffic. I could only imagine how it would feel pulling through a corner.
As I turned into the Ford display lot in front of three number-one Cobra Rs, I had to pinch myself. I might not be one of the lucky 1,350 owners, but now I have an inkling of what they signed up to experience. In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “it is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”
Ford GT Specifications
Construction: Carbon Fiber Monocoque with Integrated Steel Roll Cage and Aluminum
Body style: Mid-engine, Rear-drive with active aerodynamics and suspension
Final assembly location Markham, Ontario, Canada
3.5-liter Twin-Turbocharged EcoBoost V6
Configuration: Aluminum block and heads
Intake manifold: Cast Aluminum
Exhaust manifolds: Cast Stainless Steel
Valvetrain: Double Overhead Camshaft, four valves per cylinder, Twin Independent
Variable Camshaft timing, low-friction roller-finger-follower rocker arms
Valve diameter/lift Intake: 37.4mm / 9.96mm
Exhaust: 31.6mm / 11.00mm
Pistons: Cast Aluminum
Connecting rods: Fully-Machined Forged Steel
Bore x Stroke: 92.51 x 86.7 mm
Displacement: 3,497 cc
Compression ratio: 9.0:1
Engine control system: Ford PCM
Horsepower (SAE): 647 horsepower at 6,250 rpm
Torque (SAE): 550 lb-ft at 5,900 rpm
Recommended fuel: 93 octane
Fuel capacity: 15.2 gallons
Fuel delivery: Sequential electronic direct and port fuel injection
Oil capacity: 15.3 quarts
Lubrication: Four-Stage External Dry-Sump Oil Pump
EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings: 11 mpg city, 18 mpg highway, 14 mpg average
Layout Rear-wheel drive with limited-slip differential
Transmission: Getrag 7DCL750: Seven-Speed Dual-Clutch Transaxle
Gear ratios: 1st 3.397, 2nd 2.186, 3rd 1.626, 4th 1.285, 5th 1.029, 6th 0.839, 7th 0.634
Final drive: 3.667
Front: Unequal length upper and lower control arms, pushrod/rocker-activated torsion bar/coil spring and electronically-adjustable DSSV dampers; two-position ride height/spring rate system with additional front lift mode
Rear: Unequal length upper and lower control arms, pushrod/rocker-activated torsion bar/coil spring and electronically-adjustable DSSV dampers; two-position ride height/spring rate system
Type: Hydraulic Power-Assisted Rack-and-Pinion
Turning circle, curb-to-curb: 40.0 feet
Type: Four-wheel power carbon ceramic matrix disc brakes with four-sensor, four-channel
antilock braking system and AdvanceTrac electronic stability control
Front: 394x36mm, floating-type vented and cross-drilled discs, Brembo six-piston fixed
Rear: 360x32mm vented discs and cross-drilled discs, Brembo four-piston fixed aluminum
calipers, electronically actuated Brembo spot caliper parking brake
Wheels And Tires
Optional (F) 20 x 8.5 in. carbon fiber wheels with 245/35R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires
Optional (R) 20 x 11.5 in. carbon fiber wheels with 325/30R20 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires