The Ford GT-40 will always go down in history as the American mid-engined supercar that conquered Le Mans. The modern yearning for this sort of nostalgia and pedigree in an era of flimsy cheap cars birthed the re-incarnation of the namesake and recognizable profile. Appropriating the GT moniker and languid body lines of the original GT-40, the late-model Ford GT of 2005 and 2006 offered well-appointed performance to a domestic-loyal market.
These second comings of the GT were no slouch as a driving platform, coming from the factory with a supercharged 5.4-liter overhead cam “modular motor” producing 550 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. These aluminum engines were mated to manual six-speed transaxles housing a limited slip differential. The architecture of the GT echoed it’s racing past — tubular engine and chassis subframe assemblies zig zag their way through the clamshell.
A Little Background
All these markers made the new GT an excellent candidate to be homologated into sports-car racing fields around the world. Enter the Matech GT1, this one-of-four example displays the GT in full race trim thanks to Swiss Matech Concepts. This FiA GT1 homologated car demonstrates the potential of the GT to be privately campaigned outside the factory-backed security blanket of Ford.
In 2007 Team Matech fielded their first GT3 versions of the car at the European Championships, and managed to podium in the gold after only three races of proving-out. After a second season in 2008 Ford sat up and took notice of the success with which Matech was running the GT — and amended their contract to alloy them to race the car at LeMans, This vote of confidence from Ford propelled the team on to develop the GT1 car.
With the backing of Ford in the form of wind tunnel access and a former Williams F1 race engineer by the name of Enrique Scalabroni, the GT1 version of Matech’s successful Ford began to garner interest from the French officials, and eventually merited an invitation to race he 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2010. Professional driver Bas Leinders remarked, “The car is extremely good on brakes compared to all the other GT1 cars, and it was where we could challenge the other cars, especially on twisting circuits where we had a big advantage. It was also very good on tires … this is due to the chassis and suspension geometry.”
Popping up on the eBay market, this car certainly commands a hefty price tag. Pedigree aside, one can start to quantify the exotic parts that make up the whole of this racing platform. The asking price of $925,000 is just a number to be filed away along with points standings and forgotten lap records. What really intrigues us about this car is the fanaticism of it’s construction. The aesthetics are of uncompromising quality and that elevates this specimen to realms of artistry — of engineering and ergonomics.
The body shell of this GT1 Ford GT is fabricated of resilient plies of carbon fiber, making the structure light and strong. The raw weave makes tasteful appearances through the doors panels and other interior locations — just enough to side-step the vulgarity of a completely unfinished body. The cockpit layout is rightfully minimalist in nature. An uncluttered dash provides little distraction for the driver, while controls look to be positioned such that they fall to hand in harmony with the kinematics of joint articulation through the arms and legs.
Under the wraps of the clamshell resides the 5.3-liter Roush-Yates V8 that produces 650 horsepower and 531 lb-ft of torque. Despite these numbers that fell short of the other European Championship GT1 cars both capacity and power, the powerplant consistently put the GT on the podium. The engine is gilded in a manner befitting King Midas to minimize heat soak, and features an Inconel exhaust system, which is motorsports material engineering decadence in it’s purest form.
The naturally aspirated V8 is bolted to an X-Trac 6-speed sequential gearbox, similar to the units found in other top-tier motorsports like F1, and WRC. This ratchet-driven ‘box undoubtedly provides lightning-fast and smooth gear changes at the adrenaline-fueled pump of the arm.
Running gear includes 4-way adjustable coilover suspension front and rear, allowing the team to independently control high and low speed, compression and rebound adjustment. Fellow pro driver Thomas Mutsch added, “The suspension was very well done, and with the final aerodynamic design from Enrique Scalabroni, we had an excellent package that worked efficiently in both low and high-force configurations.”
Carbon racing brakes rotors are clamped by huge monoblock AP-Racing calipers 6-piston calipers. 380 mm rotors are employed up front, and 255 mm in the rear. Shod in Michelin racing tires the 18-inch diameter BBS forged aluminum wheels stand a staggering 12 and 13-inch wide for a massive contact patch.
We’re not sure who out there is prepared to shell out nearly one million dollars for a second-generation GT when the new 2017 models are making their debut, and could be converted to a similar race-trim for less but you can’t put a price on the history, stories and beauty of this example.