The first time I gave the Ford GT's go-pedal a really hard shove, I discovered that it's one of those rare cars that can transform its pilot into a passenger. In other words, when I dipped my right foot that little bit too far towards the floor, I found myself hanging on, rather than driving.
As I gradually acclimatized myself to the arithmetic increase in information processing demands, the mental changeover from "unbelievably quick" to "crazy fast" eventually moved further away. But even after four full days caning America's supercar, even after blasting down a wide open interstate highway deep into triple digits, TTSDN (Time to Slow Down Now) never totally disappeared. Conclusion: the Ford GT is a mad, bad muscle car from Hell.
Ford claims that the GT is as safe– no safer– than its foreign rivals. They point out that their supercar is built around an incredibly strong aluminum spaceframe. The GT's metal sub-structure can withstand repeated hits, while its carbon fiber competitors will take one huge blow and… disintegrate. Sounds logical to me. One problem: I don't want to crash. And the Ford GT presents a virtually insurmountable challenge to my ability to exercise accelerative restraint. For one thing, it looks too good.
If ever a car's design said "thrash me to an inch of my life", it's the Ford GT's. From its hood's chiselled air vents, to the slightly flared rear wheel arches, to the massive, muscular rear end; the low-slung domestic supercar is a perfectly realized expression of balls-out speed. Sure, it's a pastiche of the LeMans-winning GT40. And? If someone could make a modern version of the [Ferrari-attributed] Dino 246, I'd want to drive the Hell out of that too.
Secondly, the GT is too easy to drive. With 500ft.-lbs. of torque available at 3750rpms, the GT will amble about town– in third gear– with no more fuss than a Focus. The double wishbone suspension (fore and aft) is compliant enough to dismiss all but fish-friendly potholes. Urban stop-start traffic, long commutes, back road boogies, a quick trip to the supermarket– the Porsche 911 is no longer the world's only "everyday supercar".
The GT's comfy cockpit accounts for no small part of its user-friendly practicality. Rear visibility is predictably dire, but the AC is super-cool, the switches fall easily to hand and the dials are well-positioned and legible. The GT could use a more macho steering wheel, and the stereo needs a proper head unit (a tone knob?), but it's nothing that a quick trip to your local Ford dealer couldn't fix. Put it all together and you can just lope along until… "How fast did you say I was going Officer?"
Thirdly, the GT's V8 is too rev-happy to trundle. It's possible to keep the GT's revs low, but trust me, you won't. Once the powerplant crests 4000rpms, the supercharger whistle fades and a NASCAR howl clocks in. Then, somewhere around max power (6500rpms), the car sounds like Satan's broom: a bristling high note combined with a booming, Death Star bottom end. Any enthusiast who can resist playing with that slice of the GT's powerband should be sentenced to two years in a Chevrolet Aveo.
And lastly, the GT is too much of a wild animal to be caged. How wild? Consider this: the 550hp rear-drive Ford GT doesn't have traction control. Give the supercar enough gas in a corner and the rear end starts to swing around towards the front end, until you either correct the movement with some judicious counter-steering, or end up facing entirely the wrong direction, at speed.
Don't get me wrong: the Ford GT's tendency to oversteer at the limit is safe, predictable and controllable. Purists and track day enthusiasts will rejoice; there's still a mainstream automaker brave enough to build a high performance sports car that depends on its driver's skill rather than an electronic Nanny. But if I want to see a car's back end, I'll stop, get out and have a look. When I feel an automobile's rear end beginning to drift, my first thought isn't "Ah, here's a chance for me to prove my driving skill." It's "You know, maybe I shouldn't be driving this fast."
Oh what the Hell. What's the point of owning a supercar if you can't scare yourself stupid from time to time? The Ford GT's old school handling style is a gift for some, a warning to others. But both groups will experience pure pistonhead nirvana nestled in this mean machine. And why not? Ford's supercharged homage to the GT40 is an instant classic (again) with well-sorted ergonomics and enough raw excitement to generate an endless series of unforgettable memories. At $140k, the Ford GT is the supercar bargain of the century.