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Detroit show: Ford's GT40 reborn

American fly: The remade GT40 packs a 370kW wallop from its supercharged V8 engine.

Ford goes back to the future for its ultimate supercar

7 Jan 2002

FORD has turned to one of the greatest cars in its history to headline its Detroit motor show stand - the stunning GT40.

The GT40 concept is the latest in a line of nostalgic Ford show cars that have included the Thunderbird and 49.

While it looks eerily similar to its predecessor, which was created by Henry Ford II to take on Ferrari at Le Mans - and won the 24-hour race four times in the late 1960s, the new GT40 is actually bigger and longer.

Ford vice president of Design J Mays said the concept's new lines drew upon and refined the best features of GT40 history and expressed the car's identity through modern proportion and surface development.

"GT40 is the ultimate living legend," Mr Mays said. "It's a true supercar with appeal equal to that of the greatest sports cars in the world. Essential elements of the original - including the stunning low profile and distinctly American V8 mounted midship - continue in this latest interpretation of the classic." Mr Mays highlighted the sweeping cowl, subtle accent lines and fibre-optic headlamps as elements of a contemporary GT40 pose.

Other features are the doors which cut into the roof, 18-inch white-lettered tyres upfront and 19-inch rubber at the rear, functional cooling scoops prominent on the leading edge of the rear quarter panel which channel fresh air to the engine and the integrated "ducktail" spoiler. The interior design incorporates the novel "ventilated seats" and instrument layout of the original car, with straightforward analogue gauges and large tachometer. Modern versions of the original car's toggle switches operate the key systems.

"Like its namesake, the GT40 concept is not over-wrought with advanced technologies," Mr Mays said. "While it represents the best of Ford design, engineering and expertise, it is a no-frills machine. You won't find voice-activated telematics here - not even power windows - just pure, refined performance." The GT40 is powered by a modular 5.4-litre V8 engine and its complex array of polished stainless-steel header pipes, braided stainless steel fuel lines with anodised aluminium fittings, supercharger and intercooler are visible through the rear window.

The "MOD" V8 engine features aluminium four-valve heads, forged crankshaft, H-beam forged rods and high-compression domed pistons fed by a supercharger, all combining to make 370kw at 5250rpm.

The power is put to the road through a six-speed manual transmission with a gated shifter.

As on the original, the composite body panels are unstressed. Instead of steel or honeycomb-composite tubs used in the 1960s, Ford's engineering group developed an all-new aluminium spaceframe as the foundation for the GT40 concept. It features four-wheel independent suspension with unequal-length control arms and longitudinally mounted shock absorbers to allow for its low profile.

Braking is handled by six-piston aluminium Alcon callipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners. When the rear canopy is opened, the rear suspension components and engine become the car's focal point.

"The GT40 concept should do three things: go fast, handle exceptionally and look great," says Chris Theodore, Ford's vice president of North America Product Development. "To be true to its Ford heritage, we had to create a supercar that would be uniquely a Ford. Anyone can do technology showpieces, high-displacement engines and modernistic designs, but there's much more to a GT40. There's heritage and heart. We think this car remains true to the spirit of its predecessors." Will it go into production? Ford's not saying yet, and considering the current financial straits the company finds itself in it could be a hard program to justify.

But here's hoping.

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