Although rumblings from a few media outlets suggested a return of the mighty Ford GT before Ford dropped the bomb at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, it was never a “for sure” thing. In fact, it was mostly enthusiasts like us keeping the faith that The Blue Oval would, in fact, bring back the GT for a second generation.
Through faith came realization, as the 2016 Ford GT sprung out from behind a door and began rotating on a show pedestal in all its glory for everyone to take in. Interestingly, media weren’t the only ones surprised by the reveal. As a new interview from Forbes describes, NAIAS marked the first time many Ford designers saw the car, illustrating just how well-kept of a secret the 2017 Ford GT was inside the company.
“We actually had a little skunkworks in the Dearborn studio downstairs that no one knew about,” said Moray Callum, Ford’s vice president of design, in a one-on-one interview following the GT’s debut in Detroit. “And it was done on the quiet, with a limited amount of people.”
The skunkworks team worked quickly and diligently to bring sketch to clay, and ultimately to sheetmetal in a very short amount of time to ensure the vehicle was ready for the storied nameplate’s 50th anniversary of victory at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. The concept was fast-tracked to production, with testing and development all being completed within 18 months.
“We’ve done this in record time,” Callum said. “I tell people it’s the ‘fastest’ car we’ve ever designed”—he means, the fastest in terms of development time, and the fastest in terms of capability such as acceleration and speed.
The 2017 Ford GT wasn’t built on a business case either, it was built because Ford realized it needed to pay tribute to its origins. Callum notes no marketing research was done for the halo vehicle; rather, the small team crafted a vision, and built it. Limited interference throughout the secret project helped the design team stay on task, with the design remaining raw and not overworked.
“I think there’s a certain rawness in the design. You tend to over think things when you’ve got two or three years to design a car. But I just think there’s an honesty and a rawness with this car that’s really great.”
The rawness is evident in the car that Ford showed at NAIAS, blending heritage and modern cues for a 21st century Ford supercar. The circular round tail-lamps remain from yesteryear, as do the centered exhaust tips. But as you move up front, the modernization of design occurs with the fuselage center scoops, and the pontoons and buttresses.
A noteworthy bit to take away is that is that, according to Callum, what we see here is “95-96%” production ready, leaving things like mirrors and safety markers for the final production vehicle. With that said, it looks like Maranello and Woking truly have Dearborn to worry about.