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Detroit show: Ford resurrects GT supercar

Blue blood: Ford has added a third generation to its mid-engined GT supercar family that started in 1964 with the GT40.

Ford to celebrate GT40 victory with new GT supercar designed by Australian

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Ford logo13 Jan 2015

By DANIEL GARDNER

FORD has stolen the North American International Auto Show thunder with a surprise unveiling of an all-new 447kW GT supercar designed by an Australian.

Arriving in the United States late next year, the third-generation Ford GT picks up the baton from the 2005 V8-engined supercar of the same name that broke cover in concept form at the Detroit show 12 years ago and went on sale for just two years.

The new two-seat mid-engined coupe was penned by Hobart-raised Ford designer Todd Willing on special assignment to Detroit, before he returned to Ford Asia-Pacific Design in Melbourne as design director.

Sadly, the third-generation GT will be produced only in left-hand drive, ruling out the hyper Ford for Australia.

The new car takes the GT into new territory with a more efficient turbocharged EcoBoost V6 replacing the blown V8 of the previous generation, and an extensive use of carbon-fibre to shed weight for a more frugal and dynamic package.

The mid-mounted 3.5-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost engine churns out a beefy 447kW – 37kw more than the guzzling supercharged 5.4-litre eight cylinder it replaces – and cut its teeth on the race track with three victories to its name in the 2014 IMSA Tudor United Sportscar Championship.

The car will be the standard bearer for Ford Performance, a new sub-brand that will usher in 12 new high-performance Blue Oval vehicles before the next decade, including a hot Focus RS, F-150 Raptor pick-up and two Shelby versions of its Mustang sportscar.

Styling of the new low-slung road rocket features both modern touches with advanced aerodynamics and upward opening doors, but also nods to both the previous generation GT and the 1960s GT40 – Ford's foray into mid-engined racers.

The new version will arrive in 2016, marking half a century since the Blue Oval stole victory from Ferrari with the GT40 at the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race in France.

Like the hyperbolic Bugatti Veyron and McLaren P1, the Ford's rear wing is deployable, allowing slick looks and low drag at about-town speeds, but stabilising downforce at high speed.

The body panels and entire passenger cell are made from carbon fibre, while lightweight aluminium is used to construct the front and rear subframes.

Wide 20-inch wheels house carbon-ceramic composite brakes by Brembo, and wear Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres that were specially blended for the Ford.

Power is sent to the rear wheels via a seven-speed double-clutch transaxle and gear selections are made with the large steering wheel-mounted alloy paddles.

The GT's cabin has room for just two, with occupants nestling in deep alcantara-and-leather bucket seats. Bare carbon-fibre features heavily from the wide sills, door-trims and dashboard.

Like the original GT40, seats are fixed in position and the brake and accelerator pedals are adjusted to suit the driver instead. The steering column is also adjustable.

Vehicle information is relayed to the driver through an all-digital instrument cluster, and many of the vehicle controls are accessed through the suede-wrapped steering wheel that has a flat top and bottom. A slim window in the top edge of the wheel could house a shift-light strip.

Speaking at the unveiling of the forthcoming flagship, Ford group global product development vice president Raj Nair said the advanced technology featuring in the GT would filter down to more accessible models.

“GT includes innovations and technologies that can be applied broadly across Ford’s future product portfolio – another proof point that Ford continues raising the performance bar while ultimately improving vehicles for all of our customers,” he said.

The arrival of the new performance flagship was secret prior to its public outing at the show, with only a leaked floor plan revealing a supercar may be about to debut.

British magazine Autocar reported that the layout indicated the Ford centre stage would be dominated by a vehicle named Phoenix, and would feature alongside a 2005 model GT and 1960s original Ford GT40, suggesting a continuation of the family.

The Phoenix codename could be a reference to the GT nameplate rising from the ashes of the global financial crisis that immediately followed the launch of the 2005 model.

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