Written by independent automotive journalist Tom Jensen
The good old days might indeed have been good if you’re a car lover, but these truly are the greatest of times when it comes to high-performance cars.
During the Barrett-Jackson Online Only July 2020 Auction, July 6-10, bidders will have the opportunity to own a 2018 Ford GT – the first time this model year has ever been offered for sale at auction. Bearing serial number 74 with just over 850 actual miles on the odometer, this is a true supercar, boasting performance limits unimaginable in the aforementioned good old days.
The carbon-fiber bodywork is draped in a striking Shadow Black finish offset with twin Alloy-colored racing stripes. The aluminum 20-inch Satin Graphite wheels are wrapped in the ultra-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, while the specially designed red-painted Brembo brakes clamp down on massive 15.5-inch carbon ceramic brake rotors can bring the racing bred GT to a standstill from 60 mph in just 91 feet.
The 2018 Ford GT is the ultimate manifestation of a vision Ford Motor Company had more than half a century ago for a two-seat, mid-engine sports car, initially designed with the goal of breaking Ferrari’s six-year winning streak at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most prestigious endurance race in the world.
The original 1966 Ford GT40 models, which won four consecutive races at Le Mans from 1966-69, are rightly hailed as that era’s supercars for what they achieved. Today, an original Ford GT40 is worth way more than a small fortune; but the truth is, when Ford created a new-generation GT in 2016, it designed and built a supercar that is light years ahead of the old one in so many respects.
Some comparisons between the original GT40 and new-generation GT:
No one knows exactly how many “original” GT40s were built, in part because in those days record-keeping was not great and parts were often swapped out and pieced together from multiple sources, especially if a car had been in an accident. In addition, there were several distinct variants of the original GT40, which had Mark I-Mark IV models. In any case, total production of the first-generation GT40 model was in the low hundreds of cars.
When production of the new-generation Ford GTs began in 2016, Ford had originally intended to build 1,000 units, but upped that number to 1,350 because of higher-than-expected demand from buyers.
In terms of specs, the first GT40s had 289 small-block Ford engines, though it wasn’t long before big block 427ci engines – essentially slightly detuned NASCAR powerplants ‒ replaced the smaller engines.
The big-block motors produced 485 horsepower and 475 ft/lbs of torque, enough to propel the 2,682-pound Ford GT40 from 0-60 mph in 4.2 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 12 seconds flat at 129 mph and a top speed of up to 210 mph, though some estimates were as low as 199 mph. The original GT40 Mk II had a wheelbase of 95 inches, a coefficient of drag of 0.39 and a height of 40.5 inches. Power was transmitted through a four-speed manual gearbox.
“The (Ford GT40) Mk II is a flexible car,” wrote Ron Wakefield in the October 1966 issue of Road & Track. “It isn’t quiet, of course, but with the big noises going out the back it’s not horrendous; the ride is about that of a street Cobra. There’s a realization of great structural strength, but there are rattles all over.”
While the specs of the original GT40 were impressive, especially for the mid-1960s, the new-generation GT, like the one selling at Barrett-Jackson’s July 2020 online auction, are simply mind-boggling: A 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged Ford EcoBoost engine produces an eye-popping 647 horsepower and 550 ft/lbs of torque, which is transmitted through a seven-speed automatic transmission that produces lightning-fast gear changes.
The new GT is longer (106.7-inch wheelbase) taller (43.7 inches high) and heavier (just over 3,000 pounds) than the original, but it’s a lot faster, too: 0-60 mph flies by in 2.9 seconds, a quarter-mile takes only 10.9 seconds and top speed is all the way up to 217 mph.
In 2016 development testing the modern Ford GT showed its prowess in terms of handling, setting the all-time lap record at Virginia International Raceway. And, at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Canada, the Ford GT was faster than a McLaren 675LT and a Ferrari 458 Speciale.
High-tech aerodynamics play a key role in the current Ford GT’s impressive handling prowess, as does the extensive use of carbon fiber to keep weight down. Moveable front-air ducts and a large deployable wing keep the car in perfect balance front to back, no matter what the speed.
In addition, hydraulic suspension changes ride height when drive modes are changed from the cockpit. The suspension lowers the supercar nearly 2 inches when the driver turns the knob from normal mode to track mode. Such capabilities would have been unfathomable in 1966.
And while the original Ford GT40 was a great race car, with all that’s been learned over the past half a century, Ford has taken the concept of what was a great car then and improved it to what today is a world-class supercar.
And now is your opportunity to own a pristine, low-mileage 2018 Ford GT, an opportunity that, like the car itself, will be gone before you know it.