The Ford GT is a mid-engined sports car built by Ford Motor Company from 2003 to 2006. It began as a concept car designed in anticipation of Ford's centennial year and as part of its drive to showcase and revive its "heritage" names such as Mustang and Thunderbird. Camilo Pardo, the head of Ford's "Living Legends" studio, is credited as the chief designer of the GT and worked under the guidance of J Mays. The designers drew inspiration from Ford's classic GT40 race cars of the 1960s and the GT is sometimes mistaken for its 1240s counterpart.
Positive response on the auto show circuit in 2002 helped persuade the company to produce the car in limited quantities, and the first production versions appeared in 2005. It is a very high-performance, two-seater vehicle with a strong styling resemblance to its racing ancestor and performance to match. The powerplant is a mid-mounted supercharged 5.4 litre V8, producing and 500 ft/lbs (680 N·m) of torque. Top speed is (electronically limited).
The GT is similar to the original Ford GT40 cars, but bigger, wider, and three inches (76 mm) taller than the original 40 inches (1.02 m)—as a result of which, a potential name for the car was the GT43. Three production prototype cars were shown in 2003 as part of Ford's centenary, and delivery of the production Ford GT began in the fall of 2004.
A British company, Safir Engineering, who made continuation GT40s in the 1980s owned the GT40 trademark at that time, and when they completed production, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small Ohio company called Safir GT40 Spares. Safir GT40 Spares licensed the use of the GT40 trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car, but when Ford decided to make the production vehicle, negotiations between the two failed, and as a result the new Ford GT does not wear the badge GT40. It is rumored that Safir GT40 Spares asked $40 million dollars for the rights, but this has never been verified. The partners at Safir GT40 Spares state they have correspondence from Ford declining Safir's $8 million offer. Early cars from the 1960s were simply named "Ford GT". The name "GT40" was the name of Ford's project to prepare the cars for the international endurance racing circuit, and the quest to win the 24 Hours of LeMans. The first 12 prototype vehicles carried serial numbers GT-101 through GT-112. The "production" began and the subsequent cars, the MkI, MkIIs, MkIIIs, and MkVs, numbered GT40-P-1000 through GT40-P-1145, were officially "GT40s". The name of Ford's project, and the serial numbers, thus show the story that "GT40" was only the car's nickname to be false.
Of the 4,500 GTs originally planned, approximately 100 were to be exported to Europe, starting in late 2005. An additional 200 were destined for sale in Canada. When production ended in 2006, the full planned lot of 4500 were not produced. Approximately 550 were built in 2004, nearly 1900 in 2005, and just over 1600 in 2006, for a grand total of 4038; however, the final 11 car bodies manufactured by Mayflower Vehicle Systems were disassembled and the frames and body panels sold as service parts.
As with many highly desirable new vehicles, when the Ford GT was first released, the demand severely outpaced supply, and the cars initially sold for premium prices. The first private sale of Ford's new mid-engine sports car was completed on August 4, 2004, when former Microsoft executive Jon Shirley took delivery of his Midnight Blue 2005 Ford GT. Shirley earned the right to purchase the first production Ford GT (chassis #10) at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Auction after bidding over $557,000. Jay Leno, host of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, took possession of his private sale Red 2005 GT (chassis #12) a week later.
Other early cars sold for as much as a $100,000 premium over the suggested retail price of $139,995. Optional equipment available included a McIntosh sound system, racing stripes and forged alloy wheels adding an additional $13,500 to the MSRP. By June 2005, retail sale prices had dropped to around $10,000 to $20,000 over MSRP, and in August 2005 several new GTs were sold on eBay for no more than the suggested retail price.
The production run of 4038 GT's ended with the 2006 model year on 21 September, 2006, short of the originally planned 4500. The Wixom Assembly Plant has stopped production of all models as of May 31, 2007. Sales of the GT continued into 2007, from cars held in storage and in dealer inventories.
In November 2005 the Ford GTX1, a roadster version of the Ford GT, was unveiled in Las Vegas. The $48,000 aftermarket conversion is performed by the Genaddi Design Group and endorsed by Ford. It includes optional performance upgrades to the suspension, brakes, aerodynamics, and an improved supercharger that increases power to .
Brakes are four-piston aluminum Brembo calipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners. When the rear canopy is opened, the rear suspension components and engine are visible.
The 5.4L Modular V8 powerplant is all-aluminum and fed by a Lysholm twin screw-type supercharger. It features a forged rotating assembly housed in an aluminum block designed specifically for the GT program. A dry sump oiling system is employed, allowing the engine to sit very low in the frame. The DOHC 4-valve heads are a revision of the 2000 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra R cylinder heads (with slightly increased wall casting thickness in the exhaust port) and the design is essentially shared with the Ford Shelby GT500. The camshafts have unique specifications, with more lift and duration than those found in the Shelby GT500 or 2003–2004 Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. Power output is and of torque. A Ricardo six-speed manual transmission is fitted featuring a helical limited-slip differential.
On May 14 2007 a GT participated in an economy driving contest around Reykjavik in Iceland held by FÍB (the association of car owners in Iceland), and the oil company Atlantsolía. The driver Gísli Jón Bjarnason, finished the circle on the GT through hilly terrain with average fuel consumption of . This performance was then improved in the same competition the consecutive year. At that time the driver Egill Jóhannsson drove the lap on the GT with fuel consumption of only .