How to Design a Ford GT

When Craig Metros returned to Dearborn from a multiyear stint in Australia for Ford Design, he found himself engaged in a project that probably has more resonance—far more for automotive enthusiasts the world over—than an aluminum F-150: the Ford GT program.

When Craig Metros returned to Dearborn from a multiyear stint in Australia for Ford Design, he found himself engaged in a project that probably has more resonance—far more for automotive enthusiasts the world over—than an aluminum F-150: the Ford GT program.

That’s right. The third take on the Ford GT. There was the legendary first generation, the GT40. It is chronicled for its performance at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, as it handed Enzo Ferrari his posterior, with GTs finishing 1-2-3.

Oh, and it also won the race in 1967, 1968, and 1969.

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The Ford GT: Introduced at Le Mans.  Going back 50 years after the gen-one car took the podium.

The GT moniker went into hiatus until model year 2005. Then a car developed under the direction of Camilo Pardo was revealed. It had a two-year run, with about 4,000 sold. While this car is certainly raced, it was really developed to be more of a tribute car to its forerunner, a car that could be pulled up anywhere that jaws can be dropped—and dropped they were (and are).

But when Ford started developing the 2016 GT, this time it was with racing in mind, and not just any race: Yes, it is going to Le Mans, where the racing version of the car was unveiled on June 12.

Metros, Ford exterior design director, The Americas, tells John McElroy of Autoline, Todd Lassa of Automobile and me: “From day one, we wanted to do a race car.”

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Metros says the plan view is his favorite for the GT

And so the study in carbon fiber (and aluminum), a car that has not only aerodynamic functionality but a sensuous surface (“We put the sex in the surfacing,” Metros said, explaining how there was a considerable amount of work performed in the wind tunnel, after which the design team got to work on the results so that the hard edges didn’t necessarily look harsh), was developed.

Metros explains how the design of the 2016 Ford GT came to be—some of the aero features, like the flying buttress form from the rear fenders to the cockpit, were design led but engineering useful—and about how the excitement of the crowds in Le Mans when the car was unveiled proved to him that the vehicle truly has iconic status.

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The consumer version, introduced at the 2015 NAIAS

In addition to which, McElroy, Lassa and I discuss various subjects, including the recent J.D. Power Initial Quality Study and whether the miles-per-gallon figures on new car window stickers (a.k.a., monroneys) are accurate.

And you can see it all right here.