Top Gear - Ford GT

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Feb 3, 2004.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    With bodyguards in tow, Jeremy Clarkson takes to the shadowy streets of Detroit in a Ford GT. Has it really got the muscle to take on the likes of Ferrari?

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    Road test - Ford GT
    [November 18 2003]

    When I first clapped eyes on Ford's new GT, in a burned-out, derelict street about two miles from the smashed and deserted centre of Detroit, my first thought was 'Oh no. The front end's too sharp. And the wheels are all wrong.' In the pictures, it really does look like the old GT40, but when you're right there, it's obviously longer, and wider and three inches taller.

    This will matter a great deal if, like me, you are 43 years old. Because if you are 43, you would have been six when the original came along, and you would have thought, like me, that it was everything that mattered, in metal. Then I walked round to the back and, holy cow. Clive James once described Arnold Schwarzenegger as a 'condom full of walnuts'. Well that's what the rear of this car looks like: a big red condom with white stripes, full of cojones - a tinkle-grabbing blaze of power and aggression. It made me feel six years old again. Excited, nearly to the point of tumescence. Only last time around, the GT40 was just a poster on my wall. This time, it was real. And I was going to drive it...

    First of all, though, let me give you an example of how hard it has been to turn this extraordinary machine from a twinkle in someone's eye to a real road-going car that, next year, you'll be able to buy, albeit with left-hand drive. On the original concept car, shown at the Detroit Show in 2002, there were two fuel filler caps; one in each front wing. Everyone agreed this was in keeping with the original design and looked good. But two fuel filler caps would cause the car to fail the 'evaporative emission' tests that cars must pass these days. Fine, thought the engineers. Let's make one of them a filler for the washer bottle. The lawyers laughed at that one. 'Right' they said 'And what shall we do when someone sues us for putting soapy suds in the V8 and spraying his windscreen with petrol?'

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    Given time, the GT team may have found a solution. But they had no time. They'd been asked to get the car ready in 12 months. And one of the team leaders had said 'Sure. We can do that.' In much the same way that someone in the US army said 'Sure. We can do that', when asked to find Saddam Hussein.

    There was a similar problem with the doors. Like the original's, they cut into the roof, which is a good thing when you're changing drivers at Le Mans, but not so good when someone parks next to you in a Wolverhampton multi-storey car park. Put simply, you won't be able to get in. Again, in time, a solution might have been found. But the car had to be ready for Ford's 100th anniversary. And the clock was ticking...

    To make matters worse, Ford is not exactly flush with cash at the moment, Technically, I'm told, it's broke. So, the engineers were given what may as well have been a fiver. There's evidence of cost and corner cutting wherever you look. Certainly there's no sense it was handmade by craftsmen using techniques handed down over the generations. Rather, it looks like it was made in a big hurry using what-ever happened to be lying around.

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    It's billed as the first American supercar, but that's stretching things a bit. I mean, the gearbox is from Ricardo. The body was worked on by Mayflower. The steering rack comes from an Aston Martin Vanquish. Lotus helped out with the chassis. The wheels are from BBS. The brakes are from Brembo. Doesn't sound very American to me.

    Except, of course, for the engine. That's a supercharged 5.4-litre V8 they got from the most glamorous and exotic of sources - the Lightning pickup truck. But this, in fact, has always been part of the GT40's appeal. The big simpleton taking on the Italian aristocrats. Rocky. The working-class hero, a blue-collar car with a street fighter's punch. As before, the main target of the GT is Ferrari - specifically the 360. And I think they may have overdone it.

    First of all, there's the weight issue. For all its parts-bin engineering, the GT is surprisingly light.
    It has an all-aluminium space frame chassis, and an aluminum body which is welded together in a clever (but rather boring) new way. So, you get 400bhp from the Italian car in a package weighing 1,447kg. With the Ford, you get 500bhp, and twice the torque over twice the rev range in a package weighing 1,541kg. Do the maths and the result is obvious way before you even turn the key. In a drag race, the Ford is going to crush the Ferrari like a beetle. I'd guess at 0-60 in 4.0secs. 0-100 in 9.5 and a top speed, in sixth, of 200mph.

    I did turn the key, though, and was mildly surprised at what happened. More surprised than on finding I didn't need to push the seat all the way back, in fact. Instead of the V8 bursting into life with a cackle and boom, it just started. Then I pressed the clutch, with one foot, eased it into first, with one hand, and twirled the Micra-light power steering and eased onto the street. Supercar? It certainly didn't feel that way.

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    Inside, you can forget about leather that's been hand-stitched by toothless crones. Or carpets made by the finest mills in Lancashire. Or toys. To save weight, it's equipped and trimmed like a cave. But with the aircon set just so, I was calm and quiet and comfortable. Then just as I arrived at a set of red lights, Bruce Springsteen came on the radio...

    In a recent BBC survey to find the things people would most like to do before they die, swimming with dolphins came out at number one. Well, what I've always wanted to do is hammer a GT40 between the lights on Woodward Avenue in downtown Detroit. So I did. The rear wheels lit up like Catherine wheels, the supercharger belt which is plainly visible in the rearview mirror went into Mad Max mode, the hum from the engine deepened, the plethora of dials danced like they'd been plugged into the mains... and I hit 60 without a gearchange (a shorter final drive might be in order methinks). Into second and five seconds later I was up past the ton and thinking about third when, mercifully really, the lights ahead went red. The big brakes hauled me back down to nought just as Bruce started singing about the broken heroes on their last chance power drive. Abso-bloody-lutely.

    Afterwards, I pottered around in Detroit some more, smiling at the hobos partly because I had the power to outrun their bullets, and partly because I was very, very happy. In fact, the only mental note I made was about the ride. But then no car copes well with these roads, which are as smashed and as broken as the city itself. Unfortunately, it still didn't cope the following day when I headed 50 miles west and into the countryside. The warning signs talked of a 20mph limit for the corner ahead but this being the land of the sued and the home of the timid, I dropped down to 60 before turning in. It wasn't nice.

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    I could see the front of the car sliding wide but I couldn't feel it. The steering was numb and the column itself was shaking over some mid-apex bumps. I tried to bring the back round with a prod on the throttle, but such was the grip from the 315/40 rear tyres, it was no good. I simply went faster. Much faster. The acceleration doesn't snap your head back. It isn't savage or brutal, but it is relentless. If I may liken the Ferrari to a rifle shot, this is more like the boom of artillery fire. Less accurate, but 100 times as effective.

    So, I thought, another point-and-squirt American muscle car. Quick, but as good at cornering as they are at whispering. The engineers were horrified. "No, NO, NOOOOO," they shouted. This car is set up for a race track. We haven't finished with the shock absorbers yet." They'd better get a move on. According to Porsche, it takes a minimum of 18 months to sort a 'nearly' ready car, fine tuning the tyres and the shocks so they work together perfectly. The GT goes on sale in six.

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    And there's something else that needs to be addressed. It's not the volume of noise I'm worried about. It's the quality. From the outside, the GT sounds sensational but from inside, it sounds like a car. Nothing more. Nothing less. If I'm sounding down at this point, it's because I was. I'd been longing to drive this car and, as is the way with all things GT40, I'd come too soon. It simply wasn't ready. In fact, I thought, the best thing you could do with a GT is have someone drive it in front of you all day. That way, you'd get to hear the exhaust bark and gawp at that sensational back end.

    In fact, I did just that. On the way back to the airport, I piled into the Lincoln hire care and followed the GT back down the motorway. And I had a funny feeling, one I hadn't had since I first encountered the Ferrari 355. I can't say whether Ford's efforts to fine-tune the suspension and steering will be successful, but I sort of don't care. Because even if it does turn out to be 10 per cent less dramatic than the Euro old hands, it still trounces them in perhaps the most important arena of them all. You may respect the Porsche 911 Turbo. You may like the Lamborghini Gallardo and you may love the Ferrari 360. But the Ford GT is a car you want.

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    Yes, it's very advanced, especially for a country whose plugs are positively Rwandan, and, yes, it is hugely powerful and fast. Plus, with a proposed price tag of less than £100,000, it is also good value for money. These are the upsides in a vista that has its share of downsides too.

    But what matters most is that as it disappeared off the motorway, I craned my neck for one last look at that phenomenal rear end. I never do that. Normally, I leave a car thinking only of the review to be written. But the GT was different. It had been a brief encounter. And the effect was just as powerful. Even now, weeks later, I simply cannot get the Ford GT out of my head.

    [​IMG]

    Jeremy Clarkson

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  2. DMClark

    DMClark Active Member

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  3. ROcHE

    ROcHE .

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    Jeremy is the man :bowdown: Now where the fuck is the vid?
     
  4. ideeosinkruhcee

    ideeosinkruhcee With time and tons of food, I'll someday upgrade t

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    404 vid not found
     
  5. anjego

    anjego Invading your economy!

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  6. Painkiller

    Painkiller The Synarchy of Molten Bones

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  7. Taylor

    Taylor Guest

    Sounds like it is fast as shit but not as much fun. Give me a Turbo or a 360, thanks.
     
  8. Painkiller

    Painkiller The Synarchy of Molten Bones

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    . So I did. The rear wheels lit up like Catherine wheels, the supercharger belt which is plainly visible in the rearview mirror went into Mad Max mode, the hum from the engine deepened,


    lol that's fuckin sweet.
     
  9. lmnite

    lmnite geaux tigers! OT Supporter

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    vid???
     
  10. sr20det

    sr20det Handin' out uppercuts, elbows and indian burns!

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    :bowdown: :cool: cant wait to see one, maybe even drive one.
     
  11. Balzz

    Balzz N54 Elitist OT Supporter

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    Recorded on my PVR. :fawk:
     
  12. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    It is my favorite car of all time, based on looks and background alone. That it drives nicely is pure gravy :o
     
  13. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    and Jeremy, it ISN'T a lightning motor :rolleyes:
     
  14. BoypussY

    BoypussY game over.

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    excellent, ford did a great job on this one!
     
  15. SoBrokenHearted

    SoBrokenHearted summer unfolded like a tapestry

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    I have the vid, gimme a host.
     
  16. Balzz

    Balzz N54 Elitist OT Supporter

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    No need to get your mullet in a bunch. :hug:
     
  17. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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  18. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    He subtly panned the car, yet gave it a positive overall review. :o
     
  19. BLoG

    BLoG Scented Meat

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    He said he'd want it over a 911 Turbo (his #2 car of all time), ferrari 360, or a gallardo.

    I think that says enough.
     
  20. Meeocky

    Meeocky New Member

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    This man needs a host.
     
  21. Trust that prick to get the facts wrong. Anyone who knows anything about cars will find themself shaking their head with bewilderment when they listen to him.
     
  22. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    [​IMG]
     
  23. Welsh0913

    Welsh0913 OT Supporter

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  24. mads.

    mads. OT Supporter

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    very :cool:
     
  25. Ahhsome.
     

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