What We’re Driving: The Ford GT
The Ford GT is the closest thing to a racecar sold in (small-) volume production. Shown here in its lowest Track mode, the GT is a Le Mans-winning fantasy unleashed on the street. (SAE)

What We’re Driving: The Ford GT

The closest thing to a racecar for the street, the Ford GT will be an anticipated sight at this year’s Woodward Dream Cruise.

As part of its sponsorship of this year’s annual auto-palooza known as the Woodward Dream Cruise, Ford invited media to sample its Ford GT supercar along Detroit’s famous avenue. With its sold-out production run of 1,350 set to end in 2022 (plus 45 of the track-only Mk II), the GT is a relatively rare bird, and drew significant and enthusiastic attention during our brief stint in the car on a crowded public thoroughfare.

What first impresses about the GT is how easy it is to drive. Ingress is a little tricky over the wide sill (the entire chassis is essentially carbon fiber), but once situated in the comfy driver’s seat you use a strap to position the foot controls to your liking in a very cramped pedal box, and you have a few degrees of seatback angle to play with. Headroom is ample, and the minimalist controls take most intimidation out of setting off.

The 3.5-L EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 erupts to life from what feels like just behind your right earlobe, but settles quickly in a buzzing idle. Like many competition-focused machines, the V6 has a lightened-crank eagerness about it, but the “automatic” gearbox prevents any uneasiness about getting underway. Thanks to the rear-wheel-drive GT’s low and centered mass, the V6 can mutter away at low rpm while easily bringing the GT up to traffic speeds.

The Getrag-sourced 7DCL750 7-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission operates as a precise instrument, snapping off up- or downshifts on command, and exhibiting distinct personalities depending on the driving mode you’re in. The Normal setting was perfectly pleasant for just rolling with traffic, and Sport mode sharpens things up considerably, allowing you to hold gears and rpm as you like when set in manual mode. We did not get to sample Track mode on the street (see top image), which drops the GT to what appears an impossibly low stance ideal for smooth racetracks.

Though in no way engineered for dragracing, the Ford GT is still hilariously quick. If prodded from a standstill, you quickly find yourself alone in the stoplight parade on Woodward Avenue, wondering where all the other cars went. Ford has taken some hits for the V6 soundtrack, but from within the close-quartered cabin, it’s a pleasingly raucous and snarling cacophony. When given the whip, things start to happen quite quickly, but the GT felt eager and planted, yet still light under boost, and you are aware of the majority of mass resting both behind you and between the wheels.

The carbon-ceramic Brembo brakes engage RIGHT NOW, providing the mandatory assurance required at a racetrack pace. They squeaked just a little bit during our street drive, a reminder that you are driving one of the closest things to a production racecar extant. That may not be terribly appealing on the street, but the GT has just enough technology ladled atop it to not feel like a rolling, high-strung carbon tub.

The lengthy suspension arms and Multimatic DSSV dampers provide a relatively complaint ride on Michigan’s pocked pavement, and steering is nigh telepathic in response times. This encourages Le Mans-like antics such as scrubbing your tires within your own lane, and combined with a clear view of each front fender, permits pinpoint placement of someone else’s very expensive machine. Except towards the rear quarters, overall visibility is quite good (with a freakishly low backup camera view), making for generally stress-free street driving, though you’ll wonder when Corolla’s got so tall.

After going for a spin we spoke with Matt Titus, vehicle engineer for Ford GT, and he echoed many of our sentiments, even when the GT is out of its element cruising Woodward. “Wherever you go it's a head turner. Nothing looks like it,” Titus said of the GT. “It's a very scalpel-like car. You get to feel everything, but it's not harsh or abrasive. You're just picking up a fine-tuned piece of machinery, where you're more one with the car than you are with many others.”

In a brief stint in the Ford GT, the overall impressions are of an extraordinarily potent and focused bit of race-bred machinery, one that begs to be unleashed on a fast and flowing road course. It’s got enough convenience tech to make it a machine that you’d have zero issue driving to a track day, but with enough racecar compromise to wax it from a list of daily drivers. Few machines are so pure in their purpose, or so vividly deliver Le Mans-winning fantasies on the street.

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