And yes, we can expect to see these features trickle down to the next generation Mustang.
The first Ford GT40 may have come to fruition due to a rivalry between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari, but its timely yet surprising reintroduction as a LeMans stand-in for a souped-up Mustang wasn’t exactly a happy coincidence. Ford wanted to boldly step forward into the next generation, both literally and symbolically, by creating a testbed of technology to showcase its ability to withstand and thrive in what could become a punishing future for the automobile.
There are some automakers that would have been content with using a souped-up version of a mass-produced aluminum-bodied truck, the best selling in America even, as a symbol of the rapid rate of change going on in the R&D department. But with huge ambitions for upcoming electric and autonomous vehicles, Ford needed to use the heat of competition to see how its new lightweight materials, aerodynamic innovations, and boosted engines would fare. The company’s latest release details its achievements by highlighting some impressive Ford GT info, such as the fact that its 3.5-liter turbocharged EcoBoost V6 makes 647 horsepower. It’s nearly the same unit used in the Ford F-150 Raptor, sharing 60% of its parts with the truck.
However, it makes 184 horsepower per liter, rocketing wildly out of the realm that the Raptor is in, which makes “only” 128 horsepower per liter. To help access this power without a hint of lag, Ford engineered a system to keep the throttle open while shutting off the fuel injectors when the driver is off the gas to keep the turbines spooled. Once the accelerator is reapplied, the fuel rushes in again and thrust ensues. Coming together on the track and eventually making its way onto ultra-efficient hybrid and electric vehicles is the latest in Ford’s aerodynamics tech. In the simplest of terms, it looks like the Blue Oval did nothing more than add active flaps at front and a computer controlled wing in the rear.
Ideally, this optimizes for downforce and low drag when appropriate. But racing is never on the simplest of terms, and the real handiwork can be seen on those flying buttresses that help by cutting away body fat, a feat enabled by using a downsized engine in place of a V8 and lowered cooling hardware, all done while leaving the hollow carbon buttresses in place in order to better manipulate the wind and feed air to the engine. More clever still are the hollow rear lights, which send wasted turbo air out the rear while maintaining the innocent appearance of DOT approved tail lamps. Carbon fiber has yet to become inexpensive enough for mainstream use, but Ford’s extensive use of it in the GT are practice both in production and eventual application.
Aside from the adjustable hydraulic suspension, Ford’s computer coders had a field day, toiling to build a program that allows the car to tailor itself to the driver rather than vice versa. “When we began work on the all-new Ford GT in 2013, the team had three goals,” said Ford executive vice president of Product Development and CTO Raj Nair. “The first was to use it as a training ground for our engineers as we develop future engine technology and stretch our understanding of aerodynamics. Then, to push the boundaries of advanced material usage, such as lightweight carbon fiber. Finally, we set out to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, referred to by many as the ultimate test of endurance and efficiency.”
The result, it seems, is more race car than road car, and despite a starting price just shy of a half million dollars, it's lucky homologation rules have forced Ford to give it the GT at all.