Ford Didn’t Want These Original GT Chassis. This Guy Has an 1,100-HP Plan.
Did you know that after 4,038 production versions of the 2005-2006 Ford GT production cars were built, Ford commissioned Mayflower Vehicle Systems in Norwalk, Ohio, to build another batch of the car’s aluminum chassis? These “continuation” chassis, built in 2007, were to be used for GT3 and GT1 racing and as replacement parts for heavily crashed race or production cars. The original price for one back then was $80,000 each. Some 15 years later, with the cars no longer being raced in anger much, Ford was eager to unload this bulky inventory at reduced prices. Medical equipment entrepreneur and Ford GT aficionado Fred Calero already owned examples of both latter-day GTs, and he reckoned he’d buy a spare chassis and build himself a GT-based track car, like a few of his neighbors in suburban Detroit’s garage-condo/track-club, M1 Concourse.
The M1 community is chock full of car-biz pros and entrepreneurs who also discovered that molds used (by Swiss firm Matech Concepts) to build the 6-inch-wider bodywork of the original Ford GT-based GT3- and GT1-class race cars had also found their way to southeast Michigan. Pretty soon a plan was hatched for Fred to buy the molds and strike a deal with Ford Performance to acquire its remaining stock of crated “continuation chassis” available for sale (30 in all) and build a limited run of (barely) street-legal, track-focused hypercars, targeting owners belonging to clubs like M1.
When choosing a name for this enterprise and the car, the team went strictly minimalist: GT1. Like Cher, Madonna, and Bono, it’s just the GT1. There’s no plan for any successor model.
Choosing a Hypercar-Appropriate Engine
The original Ford GT’s 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 engine is still available as a crate engine, but it was deemed too heavy and quotidian for hypercar duty. The team then mined the Ford Performance catalog, considering various Coyote-based V-8s, but they all seemed too “Mustang-y,” for the GT1. Besides, their DOHC architecture makes them so wide that the twin turbos would have been relegated to the rear corners of the car, potentially causing plumbing, mass, and weight-distribution headaches.
Finally, the team looked at engines from Roush Yates racing designs, eventually choosing the RY45. An aluminum-block derivation of the iron FR9 design used in NASCAR, the RY45 was attractive for its available heartstring-tugging 427-cubic-inch displacement, its robust motorsports durability track record, and its compact packaging and race car mounting concept (instead of side mounts, it hangs from the firewall and transaxle). This arrangement leaves plenty of room to tuck a pair of giant Garrett G30 900cfm turbos right up tight to a compact set of equal-length exhaust headers, located just inches from the intake-plenum-mounted intercooler. That cooler enjoys its own separate circuit with two front-corner-mounted radiators plus one in the left rear side intake. The resulting engine weighs about 150 pounds less than a similarly powerful Coyote.
How Much Power and Torque Does the GT1 Have?
The thing about motorsports-oriented powertrains and the electronics that control them is that everything is highly variable. This Roush Yates block can deliver more than 950 horsepower with almost 15:1 compression and natural aspiration, but it’s super high-strung in that state of tune. In the GT1, the engine runs 9:1 compression. That’s good for 720 hp with no turbos. With just 4 psi of boost, it makes 1,100 hp at 8,000 rpm and 680 lb-ft at 4,000 rpm on 93-octane pump gas. (Gigantic 60mm blow-off valves are needed to maintain such low boost pressure.) More important than the numbers is the flatness of the torque curve from 3,800 to 8,500 rpm, made possible by a custom cam grind. We’re told this torque curve makes the car very tractable and far less prone to sudden wheelspin.
Need more power? Fill up with E85 fuel to add 100 hp. Want even more? Twist programmable knobs on the racing steering wheel to order the Haltech engine-control computer to dial the boost up to 15 psi and/or increase the redline, and it’ll surpass the Hoonicorn’s 1,400 hp to hit 1,500-plus (on E85), with 910-plus lb-ft of torque. Max redline is 9,000 rpm—quite a feat with pushrods and no variable cam timing, but F1-style Del West titanium valves, CP-Carillo H-beam connecting rods, Gibtec pistons, a Bryant Racing Billet crankshaft, and a Dailey dry sump system enable such lofty engine speeds. (Calero advises programming a lower redline to reduce wear and tear.) Even more power might be achievable: Maxing out the flowrate of those two Garrett turbos could theoretically produce 1,800 hp.
SADEV Racing Transmission
A sequential-shift racing transaxle is best for track work, so the GT1 team is tapping France’s SADEV for its electro-hydraulically shifted SL90 six-speed gearbox. Similar SADEV internals have coped with roughly the same power in the late Ken Block’s Hoonicorn Pikes Peak racer, which uses a very similar Roush Yates engine.
How Fast is the GT1?
Gearing will limit top speed to about 222 mph at 8,700 rpm, but V-max is also highly dependent on aerodynamics. The angle of attack of the GT1’s rear wing is fully adjustable, and each front corner can be fitted with one or two dive planes in large or small sizes. The GT1 team will be evaluating high-speed aerodynamics on the long runway at Michigan’s Oscoda air base in the coming weeks.
How Quick is the 2023 GT1?
Drag racing isn’t envisioned as a GT1 strong suit, so no launch control system per se is envisioned for this circuit racer (though the drive control system can be programmed for it). That means that launching this 2,650-pound hypercar will come down to tire traction and driver skills, but the 0-60-mph time should be 2.7 seconds or less. Note that the team is looking at ways to shave another 70 or so pounds off the car, so those times may come down a bit.
The GT1 suspension design is based on racing applications of the Ford GT but strengthened to favor longevity over ultimate light weight, with the expectation of replacing components after a single 24-hour race. As in the GT3 and GT1 race cars, the geometry of the individual Heim-jointed links and control arms serves to extend the wheelbase. This GT1’s wheelbase is 2.8 inches longer than the production Ford GT chassis it’s based upon. Adjustable Multimatic DSSV shocks serve at all four corners (as they did on the production Ford GT as well as the GT3 and GT1 racing versions), custom fit for this application. Bosch Motorsports electro-hydraulic power steering provides programmable assist, and the all-steel AP Racing brakes use a GT3 racing ABS system. Steel brakes are less costly to maintain, but carbon brakes are under consideration to shave some mass, as is replacing the Forgeline aluminum wheels with Carbon Revolution units.
GT1 Space Frame and Body
The carbon-fiber bodywork, produced by Synergy Composites in Canada, uses an aircraft-grade carbon-fiber twill like what Boeing uses. The strands look to be about a quarter-inch wide—much wider than found in other automotive applications and way too cool to cover in paint or a wrap. So the GT1 team is offering a rainbow of optional clear-coat tints that add color without hiding the twill.
A club-sport roll cage of GT1’s design will be standard, as well. It features a wider, longer opening to enter the car while still providing reasonable side and hip protection. The GT1 cage also engages the firewall to prevent intrusion by the front suspension-carrier castings in case of a serious frontal crash. A more protective cage that’s harder to climb through is also available, but the GT1 isn’t expected to do much serious wheel-to-wheel racing, as it doesn’t strictly conform to any specific homologation standards. (It could probably be vintage raced as a mid-2000s GT3- or GT1-style car.) The cages can be painted a different color than the chassis, if desired. One key modification to the crated chassis is converting to bolt-on members above the engine. This allows a completely dressed engine to be installed from the top.
A pair of racing buckets face a carbon-fiber dash based on the production car’s shape, but with the analog gauges replaced by two 10.0-inch display screens. They’re powered by an AiM power distribution management system that communicates with the car’s CAN database. (AiM also supplies the Ariel Atom’s displays.) The prototype we were shown did not have an audio system, though one can almost certainly be fitted.
When and How Much?
GT1 has signed its first customer, and a handful of other prospective clients have expressed more than passing interest. The GT1 team plans to assemble its first three or four cars in Fred Calero’s M1 Concourse garage space, with delivery targeted for late 2023. The team is contemplating contracting the manufacture of the rest of the cars to Roush Industries or Prefix Corporation. The price starts at $1.2 million, which is precisely what Ford charged for its track-only 2020 Ford GT Mk II. (The 2023 Ford GT Mk IV costs $1.7 million!) Optional extras include body, chassis, and roll-cage colors, ordering some 200 aluminum parts anodized in coordinating colors, onboard air jacks, and a fire-suppression system. Those ordering a GT1 may need some patience. The lead time for gearboxes is 8-9 months, and engine blocks cast in England and the billet-milled crankshafts have long lead times, as well. There’s no “warranty,” per se, but sourcing all the hardware and software from mainstream motorsports sources means any race team mechanic should be able to wrench on a GT1.
So if you’ve got a million-plus bucks to spend on a car you plan to run at your car-country-club track, why not consider one conceived and built by fellow track-club enthusiasts at the Motor City’s own M1 Concourse?
|2024 GT1 Specifications|
|LAYOUT||Mid-engine, RWD, 2-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||7.0L/1,100-1,500-hp/680-910-lb-ft twin-turbo OHV 16-valve V-8|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed sequential manual|
|CURB WEIGHT||2,650 lb (mfr)|
|L x W x H||180.0 x 83.5 x 41.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||2.7 sec (mfr est)|
|EPA COMB FUEL ECON||Not yet rated, estimated 4-6 mpg|
|EPA RANGE, COMB||Not yet rated, estimated 72-108 miles|
|ON SALE||Q4 2023|
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