With the 1966 Sebring-winning Ford GTX1 roadster as inspiration, Ford SVT engineering supervisor Kip Ewing unveiled his take on that legendary racer during the opening day of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show. Ewing conceived the idea for a roadster while working on the Ford GT launch, and after completing initial design sketches and engineering studies on his own time, he won the privilege of utilizing the Ford's SEMA Technology Initiative to bring the Ford GTX1 roadster to life.
'The Ford GT has been an amazing automotive icon that I've had the pleasure to work on,' said Ewing. 'The X1 project is a great way to answer the question, ‘What if?' and utilize the power of the SEMA's members in the aftermarket to get it done.
Ford's SEMA Technology Initiative began in 1999 with the sharing of technical drawings and electrical schematics of the then-new Mustang. The program has expanded over the years to include the majority of Ford and Lincoln Mercury vehicles and now provides three-dimensional CAD data to aftermarket companies looking to develop parts and accessories. As part of Ford's initiatives to promote its vehicles to SEMA members in the aftermarket, Ford supports a selection of project vehicles to be built every year for the SEMA Show, and the Ford GTX1 was one of them.
The builder chosen for the project is Mark Gerisch of Genaddi Design Group (www.vgdauto.com), an experienced designer and metal shaper that has a history of cutting the roofs off expensive and exotic cars. Ewing worked with Ford's SEMA liaison team and Ford Corporate Design to bring the OEM perspective to the project, but working with Gerisch's team in the aftermarket was critical for success.
'The Ford GTX1 project is a great example of manufacturers working together with the aftermarket to stretch the boundaries and investigate potential design and product innovation,' says Hau Thai-Tang, director, Ford SVT and Advanced Product Creation, and one of Ewing's management supporters on the X1. 'SEMA showcases trends in styling, accessories, and performance, and whether it's a new Fusion, Mustang, F-150 or Ford GT, there is something new to be learned by going through this process.'
The X1 roadster features an innovative roof system of four individual hard panels. The panels can be configured as a coupe, t-top, or full convertible. Even with all the panels installed, the outer panels can be locked into a vent position. Plus, the panels are painted in the same Valencia Yellow featuring Tungsten Silver stripes; therefore, as a coupe, it doesn't lose any of its design appeal. And, X1 drivers won't be caught in the rain because all four panels can be stored inside the vehicle for easy access.
The Ford GTX1's rear clamshell covering the engine has been redesigned to feature two buttresses that flow rearward from the seatbacks. Without the need for a backlight due to its open-top configuration, the view into the engine bay could have gone away, but Ewing knew the importance of showcasing the 550-horsepower 5.4L supercharged V-8.
The answer to the inevitable question of 'Can I buy one?' is yes. All it will take is a trip to your local Ford dealer to purchase a Ford GT, and then a call to Genaddi Design Group, or visit www.gtx1.com.
What started out a year and a half ago as a sketch on a placemat at a Dearborn Coney Island will be one of the Ford show cars on display at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show, which opens today in Las Vegas.
Úsing the 1966 Sebring-winning Ford GTX1 roadster as his inspiration, Kip Ewing, a Ford Special Vehicle Team engineering supervisor, sketched a convertible version of the Ford GT, which he named -- quite appropriately -- the Ford GTX1.
'The Ford GT has been an amazing automotive icon that I've had the pleasure to work on,' said Ewing. 'The X1 project is a great way to answer the question, 'What if?' and utilize the power of SEMA's members in the aftermarket to get it done.'
The SEMA show is the premier automotive specialty products trade event in the world. This year, more than 2,000 manufacturers will display their wares in over one million square feet of space at the Las Vegas Convention Center. More than 100,000 trade professionals are expected to attend the show, which is open only to verified industry professionals and media.
Getting his idea accepted as a SEMA project required some creative thinking on Ewing's part.
'Sometimes people have a hard time understanding what you want to accomplish, but if you can show them a three-dimensional representation, it helps to seal the deal,' he §äid.
So Ewing did just that. He took a 1:18 die-cast model of the GT and modified it.
'I cut the roof off and then remodeled the body using typical auto body materials like Bondo. Then I repainted it,' he §äid. 'It was a nice visual that I could put on someone's desk.'
Ewing's craftiness paid off.
In June, Hau Thai-Tang, director of Ford SVT and Advanced Product Creation, gave Ewing the stamp of approval he needed to do bring his dream to life as a SEMA vehicle.
'I've spent my education between engineering and fine arts, but my career path has been engineering,' said Ewing. 'To be able to get my design work recognized in a show is something I've longed for my whole life.'
One of the most innovative aspects of Ewing's GTX1 is its configurable roof. The roof system consists of four individual hard panels. The panels can be configured as a coupe, t-top, or full convertible. Additionally, the panels are painted in the same Valencia Yellow with Tungsten Silver stripes. So, when the car is configured as a coupe, it doesn't lose any of its design appeal. GTX1 drivers won't get caught in the rain because all four panels can be stored inside the vehicle for easy access.
The Genaddi Design Group, a Wisconsin coachbuilder with experience cutting the roofs off of expensive and exotic cars, was chosen to build the car.
'The Ford GTX1 project is a great example of manufacturers working together with the aftermarket to stretch the boundaries and investigate potential design and product innovation,' said Thai-Tang.
Ewing says the project became an all-consuming one.
'I was in Wisconsin every other weekend working on the car with the builder,' he §äid. 'We finished the construction at a shop I have in my home. In the last week, I've probably had about 16 hours of sleep because I've been so busy finishing the car.'
So, how did he feel when the car was finally finished?
'It's very gratifying to see something that was in your head transfer to paper and then transfer to real life,' he §äid. 'But to actually get behind the wheel of it and drive your sketch is just a mind-blowing experience.'
When asked to predict how he would feel standing beside the GTX1 at the SEMA show this week Ewing replied, 'Tired, but very proud.'Source - Ford Motor Company