The interior design incorporates
the novel "ventilated seats" and instrument layout of the original
car, with straightforward analogue 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”. That claim
notwithstanding, it’s a safe bet that the new car has a computer
or two more than the 1964 version. And, to be honest, that’s no
bad thing. It would take a very brave enthusiast to argue that
the new car would be less user-friendly than an original would
be. The new GT40 is going to provide its owners (always assuming
that there are going to be some) with infinitely more on-the-road
pleasure than an original ever could. Walk to your garage, put
the key in, turn it, and go. Who could do that with an original
car? And who would bet on an original being more comfortable?
cockpit is the essence of a GT40: a V-8 engine and a complex array
of polished stainless-steel header pipes, and braided stainless
steel fuel lines with anodised aluminium fittings. Engine size is
5.4 litres, its power enhanced by a supercharger with intercooler.
The powerplant is
all-American, from Ford's modular engine family. The version in
the GT40 concept features aluminium four-valve heads, forged steel
crankshaft, H-beam forged rods from Manley, and forged aluminium
pistons from Karl Schmidt Unisia, fed by a Roots-type supercharger
from Eaton with an intercooled intake; all this combines to make
more than 500 horsepower (at 5250rpm) and 500 foot-pounds of
torque (at 3250rpm). Those figures are similar to those of the
most powerful period GT40, the Mark IV, a car that could top 200
mph on the Hunaudières straight at Le Mans. Because of the
supercharger and high-revving, free-breathing valve train, the new
car produces this power from only 5.4-litres; in the mid-sixties
no less than seven litres were needed. 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.
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.
and heart. We think this car remains true to the spirit of its
Instead of the sheet
steel or aluminium honeycomb tubs used in the 1960s, Ford's SVT
Engineering group developed an all-new aluminium spaceframe as the
foundation for the GT40 concept. This news will bring wry smiles
to the faces of those replica-GT40 owners whose cars differ from
the original in little other than their spaceframe chassis!
may well ask why the move to a spaceframe has been made, and the
most likely answer is that a spaceframe is easier and cheaper to
construct (and to tool up for) than is a monocoque in steel or
carbon-fibre. Constructed of extruded sections and aluminium
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 central
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.
As on the historic car, the composite body panels
are unstressed. The chassis features four-wheel independent suspension
with unequal-length control arms and longitudinally mounted
spring-damper units to allow for its low profile.
Braking is handled by six-piston aluminium Alcon
calipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners.
When the rear canopy is opened, the rear suspension components and
engine become the car's focal point. Precision-milled aluminium
suspension components and 19-inch Goodyear tyres - combined with the
overwhelming presence of the V-8 powertrain - create a striking
appearance and communicate the GT40 concept's performance
credentials. In an age when concept-car tyres 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.
The GT40 concept offers excellent entry and exit,
thanks to the wide-opening doors and the centre-mounted fuel cells
that allow the driver and passenger seat positions to be moved
outward, closer to the sides and shallow sills. The two racing fuel
cells, sourced from ITW, run longitudinally down the central tunnel
and are filled via polished fuel caps at the base of the windscreen.
In the original cars, of course, the fuel cells were outboard, in the
sills, but they posed driver and passenger alike a significant problem
in getting in to or out of the car. Anyone who has tried a GT40 for
size, particularly on a wet day, will have looked in dismay at the
muddy footprints on the seat on which he is about to park himself;
this problem should not afflict the newcomer.
The new GT40 is a left-hand-drive
two-seater featuring leather-wrapped, custom Recaro bucket seats.
Aluminium grommets that allow occupants more ventilation are embedded
into the stitching; whether these work in the same way as did those on
the original cars has not been revealed. For easy access, the
adjustable handle to control seat position is located on the front of
the seat, rather than below.
A console runs the entire length of the GT40
passenger compartment. It houses the six-speed, short-throw gearshift
lever, CD player, and a leather-wrapped armrest to store "extras" that
can't be allowed to clutter the cockpit. The interior colour scheme
is two-toned: black and silver. The console, sill plate, handbrake
lever, gearshift lever, safety belt buckles, and pedals are aluminium.
"There is no luggage space behind the seats and no room for a set of
golf clubs anywhere in this car," says Mays. "It's a car designed for
the driver who carves asphalt in his spare time." No change there,
Really, what we need to know now, is just how
likely the car is to reach production, and if/when it does, will it
really cost “only” $100,000? Readers in the UK should remember that
to get an example into Britain they will have to add shipping costs,
and, of course, approximately 30% in Import Duty and VAT. Remember
the Boston Tea Party? It happened because the Americans didn’t like
paying British taxes; our taxes don’t seem to have reduced any since
then, and the New World doesn’t realise just how lucky it is. That
$100,000 will equate to 100,000 pounds by the time the car
reaches British shores.
(Photo courtesy of Brady Pack).
Because you have read this far, the chances are
that you are already a GT40 enthusiast. You may be relishing the
prospect of being able to buy a production GT40 at a fraction of what
a real one – no, let’s make that an original one - would cost.
On the other hand, you may be bemoaning the watering down of a
legend. Before long, perhaps everybody with $100,000 to spare (less
when the cars hit the used-car market) will own a “GT40”, and the
mystique of the marque will be forever diminished. Is it right to
re-use the glorious name we have come to love so much? Should Ford
have let the GT40 remain a legend?
We heard lots of encouraging words about the GT90,
which, we were told, was actually being considered for production –
and then it quietly slipped away. Do we – do you – want the
GT40 to meet the same fate? Why not write to Ford and let them know
what you think?
Most of the
information in this feature has been sourced from Ford’s press
releases; for keeping me informed about what’s going on with the GT40
concept I’m grateful to John Sadler, Bob Wood and Brady Pack (all of
whom own original GT40s), Ford’s Dan Bedore, and Safir GT40 Spares.
John S Allen
Back to Page 1...