From a homologated Group B rally car to a road-going Bigfoot truck.
Ford has the most recognizable car badge in the world and is famed for turning mass production into an art form with Henry Ford's Model T. The Blue Oval still churns out an incredible amount of cars, trucks, vans, and even tractors every year. Thankfully, Ford is a layered company, though, and doesn't just turn out mass-produced appliances for families. Whether for the track or the road, there have been some limited runs on some incredible and fascinating cars and trucks. These are our favorite Ford vehicles that have been made available in just a small quantity.
For any fan of the Ford Mustang, this is a holy grail of a car. It was built in partnership with Galpin Ford in California, the number one volume Ford dealership in the world, and under the same umbrella as the legendary Galpin Auto Sports. Iconic automotive executive Lee Iacocca's most enduring legacy is the Mustang, and only 45 of these concept cars made real were built. The appearance package is exclusive, and under the hood is a supercharged version of the 4.6-liter Modular V8 rated at 400 horsepower.
If you want to get a European motorsport fan to light up in excitement, show them a picture of a Ford RS200. This incredible car was designed and built in the UK for one purpose: to dominate Group B rallying. It was powered by a turbocharged mid-mounted 1.8-liter Cosworth engine that sent around 250 hp to all four wheels in road-going homologation models. In racing trim, the engine pushed out between 350 and 450 hp, depending on the tune. Ghia styled the fiberglass bodywork, and it weighed just 2,315 lbs.
In its first year of competition, the brand new car was hard to drive but showed a huge amount of promise. Then, during its first season, the RS200 was involved in one of the most tragic accidents in the history of World Rally Championship racing. That was closely followed by another rally accident involving the RS200 resulting in deaths. The accidents started a chain reaction that saw the Group B class abolished by the FIA and ended the golden era of rallying. As a result, only 200 road-going versions were built for homologation, and number 200 is preserved at the Ford Heritage Centre in the UK.
When Ford started moving past the disastrous Mustang II, the next step was the Fox-body generation. New emissions regulations hampered the new Mustang, though. As a result, Ford needed to generate some interest in the idea of the Mustang being powered by a 2.3-liter four-cylinder turbo engine. In 1980, Ford partnered with McLaren to create a prototype showing off a hand-built McLaren engine and the breadth of Ford's aftermarket and motorsport parts. The concept became a reality, with 249 slated to be built. Ford had few takers, however, and ultimately only ten were built. Seven of those were brightly colored in an unfortunately named paint called Bittersweet Orange.
It was too expensive for the market, but one hell of a car. The engine was of its time in making 175 hp. Still, the list of standard equipment beyond the body kit included Recaro seats, a Racemark steering wheel, Stewart-Warner instrument gauge, Koni suspension, upgraded brakes, Firestone HPR tires, and a bolt-in roll bar.
Product placement in movies has only gotten more intense since Halle Berry drove a 2003 Ford Thunderbird in Die Another Day. The convertible retro-style reboot of the Thunderbird was a big deal at the time, and 700 of the special edition model were made, all in the same Coral paint color-hued used on the movie car to match Halle Berry's bikini. A full leather interior was offered in white with black accents. A '007' badge, mounted on the passenger side of the dash and commemorative and numbered plaque was mounted in the glovebox. Under the hood, the Jaguar designed 3.9-liter V8 is the later version making 280 hp and 286 lb-ft of torque.
The GTX1 came about when Ford gave the nod to Genaddi Design Group to make a limited production run of Ford GT based roadsters. The GTX1 is more than just a Ford GT from the 2000s with its roof cut off. The roof panels can be removed to create either a T-top or Targa configuration. Initially, the plan was to build 500 standard models and 100 special SEMA edition cars, but only around 100 were made in total over two years.
Shelby American only prepared two GT40s for the 1965 racing season, and this is one of them. They are the cars shipped to Shelby from the UK when he joined the Ford racing program campaigning to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. This is the GT/104 chassis that started the GT40's rise to beat Ferrari. The Shelby team, including British test driver Ken Miles, went to town on the rear suspension, the aerodynamics, and weight saving. The engine was also drastically improved, and, sporting the new Guardsman blue with white stripes color scheme, the GT/104 proved the project had legs by finishing first and third at Daytona early in the 1965 season.
Amazingly, the idea of putting a lightweight 7.0-liter racing engine into an already fast Shelby GT500 Mustang wasn't well-received by customers. The plan was to promote Goodyear's Thunderbolt tires in a stunt that involved driving the first model for 500 miles at an average speed of 142 mph. Then, off the back of that, sell a limited run of the car under the name GT500 Super Snake.
The problem was the price, which was double the cost of the already expensive Shelby GT500. It never made production, so what you're looking at here is a one of one, and the most costly Mustang sold until the Bullitt movie car went up for auction. If the Shelby GT500 Super Snake comes up for sale again, don't be surprised if it retakes the title of "Most Expensive Mustang."
Famously, Henry Ford once said: "Any customer can have a car painted any color that he wants so long as it is black." There's a popular theory that it was because black paint dries the fastest, but the original source provides the context. Ford was making a point in a meeting about the salesman's habit of making requests based on the feedback of five percent of customers, forgetting that 95 percent simply bought the Model T without fuss. He wanted to build just one model with one chassis in one color to minimize factory hours.
This context makes the idea of Ford celebrating its 100th birthday in 2003 by offering a special edition of its most popular models only in black comical. Nevertheless, production was limited to 3,000 units each for Mustang, Focus, and Super Duty, while 4,000 units of the Explorer and Taurus "Centennial Edition Fords" were built.
Ford wasn't a heavy hitter in the rise of the muscle car in the 1960s. The Mustang was a great car, but, like the Fairlane and Galaxie, it wasn't competing with the real powerhouses of the time. Ford had three engines available, none ideal for street racing. What Ford did have, though, was the R-Code 427 cubic-inch dual-carburetor factory race engine making 425 hp and 480 lb-ft of torque. Putting overpowered engines in cars was in the spirit of the time, so Ford went ahead and put it in both the Galaxy and the Fairlane. Only 57 of the planned 70 Fairlane models were sold, and only 48 of the Galaxie Fastback R-Code are known to still exist.
In 2012, the Ford Mustang got a track and collector grade makeover. It also revived an iconic nameplate we last saw in 1970. The Boss 302 Laguna Seca got all the upgrades needed to tackle the legendary California race track, including adjustable suspensions, stiffer sway bars, and torsion limited-slip differential, new traction, and stability control programming. The suspension was lowered to give the car forward rake, lowering it more at the front than the back. The 5.0-liter V8 produced 444 hp and 380 lb-ft of torque through a manual transmission, and a special red key unlocked the full potential for the track. Both driver and front passenger were provided with Alcantara upholstered Recaro racing seats, and the rear seat was removed. Just 767 were built in 2012.
In the late 1980s, the monster truck craze was born, and can be traced back to Bob Chandler's Bigfoot project. Ford took notice and worked with Chandler to build a special edition for the road. It featured the iconic Bigfoot graphics, a three-inch lift, heavy-duty shocks, 33-inch tires, a double-hoop roll bar with off-road lighting, and an aftermarket front bumper with a mounted winch. It's already rare with 300 F-250 based special editions claimed to have been made available through dealers, but a bunch of fires prompted a recall that saw dealers remove the oversized tires, the front bumper, and lights. Later, the problem was traced to the cruise control module, but the damage was done. How many original spec Bigfoot Cruisers are left out there is unknown.