DEARBORN, Michigan — In a new video, Ford designers explain how the shape of the 2017 Ford GT was driven by performance and aerodynamics, but the result is a groundbreaking example of automotive style.
The new GT is Ford's ultrahigh-performance, midengine sports car designed to take on the world's most exotic — and expensive — competitors.
When planning a flagship sportscar, notes Garen Nicoghosian, exterior design manager, you can't just say, "Let's sketch something cool."
Rather, he says, the design had to be "a celebration of iconic style, of heritage, of the future of the company. The role you play as a design team is to bring all those things together with a set of surfaces that are not just pleasing to look at but deliver on all of them. It's a pretty sizable challenge."
The new Ford GT conjures up images of the legendary GT40 racecars that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four consecutive times, from 1966-'69. So, not surprisingly, the team had that in mind as work progressed.
"We designed the GT as a road car," says Nicoghosian, "but early on it was very obvious that it would make a racer. So we started to think about making it a bit more hard-core, making it a bit more suitable for competition."
As a result, aerodynamics and material choice began to play a large role in shaping the design.
The team chose carbon fiber and other high-tech materials for light weight and strength, midengine placement for the 600-horsepower twin-turbo V6 to enhance handling, and innovative aerodynamics to ensure usable downforce.
Ford's chief aerodynamicist Bernie Marcus points out a prime example of function driving form: "If you look at the way the upper body is shaped, you have the buttress in the quarter panel and in the rear. That is a unique aero feature, but it's also a styling feature, too."
The side buttresses are one of the most distinctive features on the car, flowing from the roof to the top of the rear fenders. In addition to creating a unique visual experience, they also provide strength while keeping down the weight.
Another example is the center panel behind the engine compartment. This piece ties body panels together, provides rigidity and houses the intercooler discharge tubes, so it serves a variety of functions while also standing out as an uncommon sculptural element.
Concludes Nicoghosian: "In a way, that's kind of what the whole car is about. There's nothing accidental on the GT."
It should come as no surprise that, as previously reported by Edmunds, a racing version of the new Ford GT will compete at next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Edmunds says: The 2017 Ford GT will be a standout, in both looks and performance.