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AT THE WHEEL REVIEWS

 

2005 Ford GT

Rebirth of a blue oval supercar!

  

By Les Jackson   Cruise Control Radio.Com

 

What can you say about this car? A whole lot, actually, so here goes…

The Ford GT is instantly recognizable for what it is: a faithful-if-modern reinterpretation of what is arguably the most famous race car of all time, the GT40 LeMans car from the mid 1960s. Ford will manufacture 4500 of them

from now until August of 2007, when production will cease due to new emissions and other NHTSA regulations. They are currently building nine of the cars each day and about 50 have been delivered to their owners so far.

My test GT was the final engineering prototype, which has accumulated 19,000 [very hard] miles. I’m happy to say the car took those miles very well indeed, and you can imagine all the engineers and auto writers who’ve thrashed this thing. It was delivered to me looking quite ready to go. It took over an hour (I’m not kidding) to actually back the car out of the driveway and get it on the road, such was the crowd of neighbors, mailmen, UPS and FedEx delivery people, bicylists and other passers-by who wanted to get a close look. You get an awful lot of attention driving the GT.

 

One push of the start button tells you that this is a thoroughbred racecar that has been tamed just enough to drive on the streets. The engine is an all-aluminum, dual camshaft, four-valves per cylinder, 5.4 liter V8 with a Roots-type supercharger mounted on top. It has dual fuel injection systems, one with small nozzles for “normal” driving and one with big nozzles for - how can I say this…orgasmic power.

This is one fast car! In fact, it’s currently the fastest car you can buy in the U.S. and probably anywhere else. The specifications are staggering, and the best way to appreciate them is to put them in perspective:

  • The engine produces 550 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. If that’s not impressive, consider this – it has 270 lb-ft of torque at IDLE, which is more than most cars can produce at full power.
  • The car can accelerate from 0 to 150 mph to 0 faster than a Ferrari 360 can get from 0 to 150!
  • The car I drove topped 211 mph and can probably go faster in ideal conditions.
  • At 180 mph the car is so stable that only two fingers are needed to keep the steering wheel from moving.
  • The 0 to 60 mph acceleration time is just over 3 seconds flat!
  • On the ¼ mile track a stock GT can do a 10-second, 135 mph run with ease.
  • It takes only 90 seconds for the GT to get from 0 to 190 mph, and it gets to 100 in the first 10 seconds.
  • It does nearly 70 mph in first gear and about 100 in second, and the first four gears have triple synchronizers. I never got into 5th and 6th.
  • It looks so much better in person than its photos could ever do justice.

I found getting into and out of the car a bit of an exercise, consisting of bending and twisting carefully. The doors open way, way into the top of the car, so headroom isn’t an issue while entering. The car is 3 ½ inches taller than the original GT 40 (40 inches, by the way, hence the name) but an Acura NSX parked next to the car was taller than the GT. Once inside the seats are quite supportive, if not plush. Everything in the car is designed to emulate the 60s racing experience, from the row of gauges to the toggle switches. There is no glove compartment and the trunk (up front behind the radiator) is only large enough for a briefcase. There are little mesh bags mounted behind the seats that can be used for important papers. Amenities include a radio, heater, A/C, power windows and mirrors, ABS, keyless entry, rear defogger and, well, that’s it! Seat adjustments are manual.

The “console” running down the center of the car is its structural backbone, wherein sits the gas tank. From an engineering point of view, that’s the safest place for the tank to be, so you just have to get used to it. Right behind your head is a glass partition, on the other side of which is the engine’s supercharger pulley. If that’s not intimidating, nothing is.

Starting the engine provides you with an extremely satisfying exhaust growl that tells everyone this thing is ready to roll. There’s nothing subtle about it and all outward signs indicate to the observer that you should get out of the way. The car moves off quite smoothly, thanks to the dual injection system, and normal driving is just that – normal. It’s only when you tip in the throttle that the car turns from Jeckle to Hyde, and you’d better be prepared for what happens!

Acceleration is explosive, period. There’s no traction control or other electronic feature that will keep you out of trouble, only raw nerve and ability. Power is instantaneous and just increases as the car pins you back in the seat. Rolling at 25 mph in first or second, followed by a stab on the accelerator, results in the rear end burning off more rubber so you have to make sure the way is clear up ahead before committing acts of “selective disregard” of the speed laws.

The ride is smooth but harsh on your lower back when the huge tires hit cracks or seams in the pavement. It has to be this way in order to maintain stability at speeds approaching the limit of sheer fright. The Ford GT running at top speed can cover a football field in less than one second, so hold on and don’t scream. The brakes, by the way, can bring the thing down so fast you’ll get a headache. Thank goodness for ABS…

I can write about this car forever and not truly explain its unparalled combination of looks, performance, sex appeal, history and “wow factor.” It’s something to be experienced firsthand, so grab the chance if it ever comes your way. As for me, my birthday is two weeks away, on Christmas day. Ford gave me my present early this year.

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