Image credits: © Ford.
2006 Ford GT news, pictures, and information
2006 marks the 40th anniversary of that historic event, the start of Ford's remarkable four-year winning streak of the world's premier endurance race. A special limited-edition exterior color, Tungsten Grey, is being offered on the 2006 Ford GT to commemorate that sterling victory.
The original Ford GT racers were engineering and design marvels demonstrating Ford's dedication and perseverance. In a few short years, under the direction of Henry Ford II, the company built a program from scratch that reached the pinnacle of international motorsports competition – and stayed there for four racing seasons.
Perhaps the world's most significant – and glamorous – motorsport contest, Le Mans in the early 1960s was showing signs of becoming a Ferrari showcase, because the Italians had become the leaders in a number of endurance classes and events. But the Ford GT race car changed Le Mans forever, and today it signifies a new era for Ford Motor Company.
Ford GT is built in Wixom , Mich.
Design and Equipment To commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Ford's first win at Le Mans , the 2006 Ford GT will be offered in a limited-edition Tungsten Grey, which replaces Quick Silver on the Ford GT's color palette. A Quick Silver racing stripe can be added to the Tungsten Grey package.
Tungsten Grey was developed for the 2004 North American International Auto Show Ford 'Performance Trilogy' show cars – the Ford GT, the Shelby Cobra roadster concept and the new 2005 Mustang GT. Customer dem and was so overwhelming that the color was added to the production palette.
'There's good contrast between the colors,' says Camilo Pardo, chief designer of the Ford GT. 'But it's a discreet contrast. In Tungsten Grey, the Ford GT is really dressy, like a fine suit. It looks mature.'
Pardo notes that in the design studio, clay models are covered wîth 'Dynoc' material that is a similar hue to Tungsten Grey. The color is specifically designed to enhance the vehicle design details for evaluation.
Únveiled at the 2002 North American International Auto Show, the GT40 concept became an instant sensation. And just 45 days after the vehicle was unveiled, Ford stunned the world again, officially announcing that a production version was in the works. Ford's GT40 concept car was created to celebrate that great era in history and look forward to the great years to come.
Although the new production car and the original race car both share the mystique of the Ford GT name, they do not share a single dimension. The new car is more than 18 inches longer and st and s nearly 4 inches taller. Its new lines draw upon and refine the best features of Ford GT history and express the car's identity through modern proportion and surface development.
The Ford GT production car, like the concept, casts the familiar, sleek look of its namesake; yet every dimension, every curve and every line on the car is a unique reinterpretation of the original. The car features a long front overhang reminiscent of 1960s-era race cars. But its sweeping cowl, subtle accent lines and high-intensity-discharge headlamps strike a distinctly contemporary pose.
The front fenders curve over 18-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. In the tradition of original Ford GT racers, the doors cut into the roof. Prominent on the leading edge of the rear quarter panel are functional scoops that channel fresh air to the engine. The rear wheel wells, filled wîth 19-inch wheels and tires, define the rear of the car, while the accent line from the front cowl rejoins and finishes the car's profile at the integrated 'ducktail' spoiler.
The interior design incorporates the novel 'ventilated seats' and instrument layout of the original car, wîth straightforward analog gauges and a large tachometer. Modern versions of the original car's toggle switches operate key systems.
Looking in through the backlight, one finds the essence of the sports car in a 5.4-liter supercharged version of Ford's MOD V-8 engine. The finishing touches are 'Ford Blue' cam covers, each featuring an aluminum coil cover imprinted wîth the words 'Powered by Ford.'
Powertrain and Chassis
The Ford GT team knew this road car would require a stiff structure, much like a race car. As such, they developed an all-aluminum space frame comprising extrusions, castings and several stampings. The hybrid aluminum space frame chassis is based on efficient use of 35 extrusions, seven complex castings, two semi-solid formed castings and various stamped aluminum panels.
The new Ford GT is intended for the road, unlike the original 1960s race cars that ultimately spawned a limited number of production road cars. However, the new car required unique race-like engineering solutions – like engineering out the aerodynamic 'lift' inherent in the original car's design – for a car that clocks in at more than 205 mph. The new Ford GT includes racing-inspired ground effects ducting under the rear fascia.
The Ford GT features many new and unique technologies, including super-plastic-formed aluminum body panels, roll-bonded floor panels, a friction-stir welded center tunnel, a capless fuel filler system, one-piece door panels and an aluminum engine cover wîth a one-piece carbon-fiber inner panel.
The chassis features unequal-length control arms and coil-over spring-damper units to allow for its low profile. Braking is h and led by four-piston aluminum Brembo monoblock calipers wîth 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. Aluminum suspension components and 19-inch Goodyear tires – combined wîth the overwhelming presence of the V-8 engine – create a striking appearance and communicate the performance credentials of the Ford GT.
The Ford GT engine, based on the largest V-8 in Ford's modular engine family, produces 550 horsepower and 500 pound-feet of torque. Both figures are comparable to those of the 7.0-liter engine that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and 1967.
The 5.4-liter powerplant is all-aluminum and fed by an Eaton screw-type supercharger. It features four-valve cylinder heads and forged components, including the crankshaft, H-beam connecting rods and aluminum pistons. Power is put to the road through a Ricardo six-speed manual transaxle featuring a helical limited-slip differential.
Major Features and Options
St and ard features include: Brembo monoblock brake calipers, BBS™ cast-aluminum wheels wîth Goodyear Eagle F1 supercar tires, carbon-fiber bucket seats wîth ventilated leather seating surfaces, 6-speed manual transmission, AM/FM stereo wîth CD, bi-xenon headlamps, fog lamps, driver and passenger front air bags, ABS, leather-wrapped tilt §teering wheel, passive anti-theft system, power exterior mirrors, windows and door locks, air conditioning, remote keyless entry and rear window defroster.
Options include BBS lightweight forged wheels, McIntosh™ sound system, painted brake calipers and racing stripes.
The powerplant is a mid-mounted supercharged 5.4-liter V8 producing 550 horsepower and 500 foot-pounds of torque. Top speed is 212 mph.
The production run of the GT ended with the 2006 model year on 21 September 2006, with 4038 cars produced. The average selling price was around $150,000.
During the early part of the 1960's, Ford attempted to buy Ferrari for $18 million to run its international racing program. The purpose was to use the Ferrari company and technology to help Ford achieve a LeMans victory. The negations unraveled and Ferrari walked away from bargaining table in May of 1963. Enzo Ferrari gave no indication as to why he had decided his company was no longer for sale. Ford decided to build their own super-car and beat Ferrari at International Racing.
Roy Lunn was an Englishman who had began his career at Ford of Britain and later came to the United States in 1958. He had played a role in helping to create the 1962 mid-engined Ford Mustang I Concept. The vehicle was an aluminum-bodied, two-seater that was powered by a 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine.
After the Mustang I, Roy Lunn along with Ray Geddes and Donald Frey turned their attention to a racing program. The car that Ford had conceived was similar to a Lola GT, being low and mid-engined. The Lola was designed and built by Eric Broadley in Slough, England and first displayed in January of 1963 at the London Racing Car Show. Broadley was running low on funds and consequently more than eager to join with Ford.
Borrowed from the Lola GT was the monocoque center section and aerodynamic design. It was longer, wider, and stronger with a rigid steel section. In the mid-section lay an all-aluminum 4.2-liter V8 engine. The gearbox was a 4-speed Colotti unit; the suspension was double-wishbone. Excellent stopping power was provided by the 11.5 inch disc brakes on all four wheels. In April 1964 the GT40 was displayed to the public at the New York Auto Show. Two weeks later the car was at Le Mans being put through pre-race testing. The result of a very rushed program became evident. The car suffered from aerodynamic and stability issues and as a result ended in two crashes.
The GT represented 'Grand Turismo' while the designation 40 represented its height, only 40 inches. The number 40 was added to the designation when the Mark II was introduced.
The Mark II, still built in England, was put through extensive testing which solved many of the stability issues. Carroll Shelby was brought onboard to oversee the racing program. He began by installing a 7-liter NASCAR engine that was more powerful and more reliable. The result was a vehicle that was much more stable and quicker than the Mark I. For the 1965 LeMans, the Mark II proved to be a stronger contender but resulted in another unsuccessful campaign.
The third generation of the GT-40, the Mark III, was introduced in 1966 and only seven were produced. Ford continued to fine-tune and prepare the GT-40 for LeMans. The GT40 led the race from the beginning. This lead continued throughout the evening and into the morning hours. During the morning the GT40's were ordered to reduce their speed for purposes of reliability. By noon, ten out of the thirteen Fords entered had been eliminated. The remaining three Fords went on to capture first through third place. This victory marked the beginning of a four-year domination of the race.
In 1967 Ford introduced the Mark IV to LeMans. It was built all-American, where the previous versions had been criticized as being English-built and fueled by monetary resources from America. This had not been the first attempt for an all-American team using an American vehicle to attempt to capture victory at LeMans. Stutz had finished second in 1928. Chrysler had finished third and fourth during the same year, 1928. In 1950 the first major attempt to win at Lemans was undertaken by a wealthy American named Briggs Cunningham. Using modified Cadillac's he captured 10th and 11th. His following attempts to win at LeMans included vehicles that he had built where he managed a third place finish in 1953 and fifth place in 1954. This had been the American legacy at LeMans.
Of the seven vehicles Ford entered in 1967, three crashed during the night time hours. When the checkered flag dropped it was a GT40 driven by Gurney/Foyt to beat out the 2nd and 3rd place Ferrari by only four laps.
For 1968 the FIA put a ceiling on engine displacement at 5 liters. Ford had proven that Ferrari could be beaten and an American team and car could win at LeMans. Ford left international sports racing and sold the cars to John Wyer. Gulf Oil Co. provided sponsorship during the 1968 LeMans season. The Ford GT40 Mark I once again visited LeMans and again in 1969 where they emerged victorious both times. In 1969 the margin of victory for the GT40 was just two seconds after the 24 Hours of racing.
In 1969 new FIA rules and regulations ultimately retired the GT40's from racing and ended the winning streak.
Around 126 Ford GT-40's were producing during the production life span. During this time a wide variety of engines were used to power the vehicle. The MKI used a 255 cubic-inch Indy 4-cam, a 289 and 302 small block. The 289 was by far the most popular, producing between 380 and 400 horsepower. When the MKI returned during the 1968 and 1969 season it was outfitted with a 351 cubic-inch Windsor engine. The MKII came equipped with a 427 cubic-inch NASCAR engine. The third generation, the MK-III, had 289 cubic-inch engines. The final version, the MK-IV all were given 427 cubic-inch power-plants.
America, more specifically Ford, had proven that American automobiles and drivers were able to compete in all arenas.
After the production of the Ford GT40 ceased, there were several companies interested in creating replicas. One such company was Safir Engineering which purchased the rights to the name. In 1985 the Ford GT40 MKV was introduced and examples would continued to be produced until 1999. Chassis numbers continued in sequence where the original Ford cars stopped. The cars were powered by a Ford 289 cubic-inch OHV engine that produced just over 300 horsepower and was able to carry the car to a top speed of 164. Zero-to-sixty took just 5.3 seconds. Disc brakes could be found on all four corners. The cars were nearly identical to the original.
By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
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