Richard Dredge
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Richard Dredge

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Richard Dredge
Author

Richard Dredge

Ford GT90

The GT90 was immensely fast and had enormous presence, and there was talk of 500 being built…

Taking its ‘New Edge’ styling theme to extremes, the GT90 cashed in on an iconic Ford name but had nothing of the beauty of its GT40 forebear. But what it lacked in beauty it more than made up for in both drama and performance – this was a car that was as much about go as it was about show. When the GT90 was first shown at the 1995 Detroit motor show, the Mclaren F1 was the performance car to beat – which meant 240mph had to be possible along with neck-snapping acceleration. But while the GT90 could claim to have nearly 100bhp more than the F1 (and could be tuned to produce 900bhp if wanted), it was also a lot heavier. And it just didn’t have the looks to take on the Mclaren…

The result of 720bhp, that aerodynamically efficient bodyshell and 650lb ft of torque was the ability to sprint from a standing start to 60mph in just 3.1 seconds, while 100mph was attainable in 6.2 seconds. It may not have been pretty, but nobody could claim that the GT90 wasn’t fast. Such performance was helped by the fact that the 6.0-litre V12 was equipped with four Garrett T-2 turbochargers. But despite the huge power the engine was still completely tractable; there was no need to keep 4000 revs on the dial just to prevent it stalling.

Although the astonishing straight-line performance was very important, the GT90 also had to handle well. To that end it had an unusually long wheelbase (of 2946mm) with hardly any overhang at either end. By putting the wheels into the corners of the car it could be placed very accurately when being driven at high speed. And in typical supercar fashion, there was a low roofline and a cab-forward stance to hint at the amazing performance on offer.

The GT90’s monocoque was constructed of honeycombed aluminium, for great strength with minimum weight, while for the same reasons the outer skin was made of carbonfibre composites. To allow access to the engine, gearbox, brakes, steering and suspension both the front and rear ends were completely removable. Like the monocoque, the suspension was largely based on the Jaguar XJ220. To create downforce at high speed there was a rear spoiler which could be angled as necessary and for maximum aerodynamic efficiency the drag factor was kept to just 0.32 – a figure which is about as low as it’s possible to go with this type of body shape.

The five-speed manual gearbox was also borrowed from the Jaguar XJ220 while the wheels were 19-inch units all round – which were fitted with ultra-low profile 335/30 tyres made specially for the project by Goodyear. Although the concept as shown was fitted with rear-wheel drive, the possibility of four-wheel drive wasn’t ruled out altogether.

Inside there were rather more creature comforts than buyers in this sector were used to. A 10-speaker audio system was fitted alongside air conditioning and a phone. Because comfort is as much about space as it about equipment there was also plenty of room inside the GT90’s cabin, although the two seats were built to hold the occupants in place when the car was being cornered at very high speeds. The infra-red sensors hidden in the B-pillars were a nice touch; they alerted the driver to other vehicles in the GT90’s blind spots either side of the car.

When the GT90 had first been unveiled there was much talk from Ford about the possibilities of it reaching production, as long as just 500 examples could be built at between $100,000 and $150,000 each. But as is so often the way, although much of the work had been done for low-volume production to be a real possibility, there simply wasn’t enough positive feedback for the concept to make the transition to production car.

 

Vital statistics
Debut Detroit 1995
Engine Mid-mounted, 5927cc, quad-turbo V12
Transmission 5-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power 720bhp
Top speed 235mph
0-60mph 3.1 seconds

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