Shelby GT350 Mustang Could be Proof That Ford is Building a New GT
I was sitting here in the office thinking about how incredible Ford’s newest GT350 really is. It has set several benchmarks for the brand with the company’s first production flat-plane V-8, most powerful naturally aspirated engine, and the first usage of magnetic adjustable suspensions. It reads like a supercar shopping list. But the GT350 is just a $53k sports car.
Then a thought hit me; what if the GT350 is a Trojan horse to test and reduce costs for Ford to create an actual supercar? What if the GT350 is just a money sink to help defray costs from a new Ford GT? We have heard rumors that Ford wants to build a new GT supercar and it wants to take it to Le Mans. The GT350 lays the perfect groundwork for Ford to easily transition into endurance racers with a relatively small investment in drivetrain work. Ford also could move a lot of the technology from the GT350 into a new GT road car.
The rumors of a mid-engine Corvette with no American competition and the lack of a Ford presence in high-level endurance racing like Le Mans are both great reasons for Ford to build a new supercar.
I promise I am not crazy. Hit the jump to see what I mean. When you get done, hit those comments to drop your own thoughts on this. The rumor mill is reporting that if a Ford GT exists, it will debut in Detroit, so we may see if I am right or not very soon.
That 5.2-liter Flat-Plane Crank V-8
Well what better engine is there to compete in a racing series than a race-style, flat-plane V-8? The maximum displacement for V-8 engines on current regulations is 5.5-liters so Ford is already under the mark. The engine currently makes “more than 500 horsepower” according to Ford, and that is perfect. As it stands the FIA adds air restrictors to every car on the grid. These restrictors level the playing field in regards to power output and basically every car in the LM GTE class runs with about 500 horsepower.
So Ford is now selling a production car with a race car engine that just happens to be exactly the right size and horsepower level for upper-level GTE endurance racing regulations. That seems like much more than a coincidence.
This same engine also builds a great platform for the road car. The last GT was powered by a 5.4-liter, supercharged, modular V-8, very similar to the engine found in the Shelby GT500. Imagine if Ford slapped a supercharger onto this new 5.2-liter engine. If the naturally aspirated car is pushing more than 500 ponies, 650 horsepower should be an easy target to reach, and suddenly Ford has a legitimate competitor to the Corvette Z06. If Chevy really is working up a mid-engine Corvette with 700-plus horsepower, Ford just needs to turn up the boost and add a touch more carbon fiber to drop weight.
Ford wouldn’t use the MagneRide suspension system on a race-spec GT, but a road-going version would be a perfect candidate. The adjustable dampers would allow the new GT to do double duty as a grand tourer and a track monster with just the push of the button. These new shocks share tech with some of the most well-regarded cars in the entire world like the Cadillac CTS-V, Ferrari 458 and the new Camaro Z/28.
The amount of money Ford would have invested into the GT3 to create this new engine and to tune the magnetic suspension is likely astronomical. Tacking that cost onto the price of a whole new low volume platform like the GT will use would force Ford to either price the new GT well above its peers, or lose money on each car produced. Now that Ford can spread the development costs of the engine and suspension to a larger volume car like the Mustang that cost is drastically reduced. This allows the GT to priced more aggressively, and it may be the only that could let Ford’s engineers get a project like this green-lit by the bean counters.
As a bonus, the track time spent at the Nurburgring tuning the GT350’s engine and suspension gives Ford a huge head start on the GT, while simultaneously allowing it to keep the new mid-engine car a secret.
It All Adds Up
With a new engine that is purpose built for racing, a suspension that is perfect for a road-going supercar and a lovely way to spread costs and development time without revealing its real plans, the Ford GT350 is the perfect starting point to creating the newest generation of American supercar. Not only does this give Ford a real weapon to wield against behemoths like the Dodge Viper and Corvette Z06, it allows Ford to play in the big leagues of endurance racing once again. This famous crucible of motorsport was the womb that the original GT40 was born from; its purpose to quell the hooves of the Prancing Horses of Ferrari. Imagine seeing a new generation dominate over Italian machines like the Ferrari 458, all with the soundtrack of the flat-plane V-8 thundering across the horizon.