"Off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush."
It was called project Phoenix and for 14 months only a very small number of people knew of its existence. Just six designers were tasked with penning the new Ford GT, and they couldn’t even tell family and friends why they were working extra nights and some weekends. To make sure no unauthorized Ford employees knew what was happening in the basement storage room/development center, the GT crew was given actual metal keys to enter instead of the typical electronic ID cards.
“A lot of people probably knew something was going on, but no one actually knew what exactly," stated Ford global design chief Moray Callum. “This was probably a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get to do a vehicle like this. I’m still pinching myself that we’re actually doing it.” Not only did Ford manage to upstage and completely surprise competitors such as the new Acura NSX, it also wanted to have the GT done and ready to go for Detroit. Typically, any car in development has a lot of bureaucracy involved, but in the case of the GT, the fewer the people who knew about it, the faster decisions could be made without any corporate haggling.
Work on the new GT began in late 2013 when now former CEO Alan Mulally was still in charge. But it was his successor, Mark Fields, who pushed hard to make the January 2015 deadline. Even Henry Ford II’s (who made the original GT40 happen) grandson, Henry Ford III, was involved as global marketing manager for Ford Performance. “This car is so special to so many different people and it has such an important legacy that we just couldn’t resist doing another version,” Ford III stated.