Ford GT prototypes "run naked" in public-road testing phase

  • 19-Aug-2015 03:18 EDT
GT road testing Aug15 I-696.JPG

Dogging it in the right lane of I-696 west of Farmington, MI, a Ford GT prototype shows its aerodynamically sophisticated bodywork. (Lindsay Brooke) To see more images click on the small arrow at the upper right corner of this image.

Without camouflage or dazzle paint jobs, Ford’s 2017 GT development program has begun public-road testing in southeastern Michigan. The exotic American supercars are "running naked” as they rack up miles amid daily commuter traffic. Automotive Engineering encountered and photographed one of the off-tool prototypes recently, shown here moving at a sedate 70 mph (113 km/h) on I-696 westbound near Novi, MI.

Even in its flat-gray paint, the carbon-fiber and aluminum GT (wearing a manufacturer’s license plate but no badges) had nearby drivers’ heads spinning. The car is stunning when viewed from the rear quarter, its twin “flying buttress” airfoils linking the roof to the muscular, motorsport-influenced rear fenders. Besides being designed to create downforce, the buttresses also vector air toward intercoolers integrated into the leading edges of the fenders, which eject hot air toward the rear of the car, exiting through the taillamp centers.

As shown in the photos, the prototype was missing its production taillamps, replaced by Pep Boys-type brake lights. Also not fitted on the test car was the rear lower fascia, exposing the large, transverse-mounted exhaust muffler system. The multi-axis active rear spoiler, while not deployed, is designed to provide both downforce and drag.

“Development of the GT continues unabated,” a Ford engineering source tells Automotive Engineering, “and early development mules are now rolling consistently around Dearborn in their bare carbon-fiber body panels in advance of the anticipated launch late next year.”

Concurrent with development of the production GT—due to be priced around $400,000 with volume limited to 250 units/year—is the GT racecar program. Ford is working with long-time racecar partner, Canada-based Multimatic on both programs and is committed to running a pair of cars in each of two major race series, the IMSA/TUDOR (U.S.) and WEC (World Endurance Championship). The latter includes the 2016 LeMans 24-hour epic, marking 50 years since the original GT40’s Ferrari-beating win there.

The new GT racecar is being tested at Calabogie Motorsports Park near Multimatic’s Ontario engineering facility, according to a Ford engineer familiar with GT development. He said Roush Yates Engines is leading development of the turbocharged V6 race powertrain. The racecar test program will “hit the tracks in late autumn” scheduled for Sebring, Daytona, and the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX.

For more SAE articles on the new GT, see http://articles.sae.org/13840/ and http://video.sae.org/12009/.

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