By on November 7, 2008

The Ford GT was a bolt from the Blue Oval: a 550-horsepower, mid-engined, retro-styled supercar designed to celebrate Ford’s Centennial. From a marketing point of view, FoMoCo’s $140k “budget supercar” was doomed from the start. After two years and 4038 examples, the Ford GT was done. But its admirers were just getting stated, adding style, horsepower and handling to an already whacked whip. This one has a Whipplecharger.

The Ford GT is a camera phone magnet. Digital scalpers split into two distinct camps. The first group knows its not worthy relative to the connection between the 2002 Ford GT and the legendary Ferrari-flagellating GT40. They flash and gleam with patriotic pride. As John Lennon said, a working class hero is something to be. The second set of snappers simply see something impossibly low, sleek and exotic. Charisma doesn’t begin to cover it.

Our tester’s silver paint and black powdercoat wheels add understatement exactly where needed; the modern-retro genius of Camilo Pardo’s craftsmanship positively soars, sans racing stripes cluttering the view. It’s a stunning combination.

Traversing the GT’s wicked roof-cut doors is a treat. Lambo-grade leather sends snoutful of luxury into your nostrils as you lower yourself into perforated seats. The cabin’s a far cry from the 40” limitations imposed by the Ford GT’s spiritual forbearer. There’s plenty of long distance comfort, with more stretch-out room and visibility than you’d expect in a purpose-built supercar.

The aluminum-here-magnesium-there construction impresses, but the GT’s stylized gauges sit front and center. The mid-mount tach works fine to judge the sensations of speed in a stock GT. But, pushed by a Whipplecharger, that offset speedometer becomes the only indication that you’re going way too fast, and who has time to glance sideways?

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: the Whipplecharged conversion kit transforms a speed demon into an amphetamine-crazed dark lord, the maniacal master of metaphysical manipulation. You don’t drive the Whipplecharged GT in a straight line. You point press and pray. And laugh. At some point, you learn how to dole-out the GT’s 800 horses and 750 lb-ft of torque in accordance with time, space, distance, traffic, road conditions, police enforcement and braking.

Fast forward never felt so good. If desired, the Whipplecharged GT passes the 1320 in 11.0 seconds at an eyeball-searing 132 mph. The factory Goodyear rubber in street-savvy skins are the only limiting factor.

While the stock GT takes a few moments to move the dash-mounted boost gauge into the maximum fun zone, the Whipplecharger (working at 20 psi) pegs the needle with anything more than half throttle. The slight delay at tip-in is history. Boost is instantaneous and never artificially restricted. Yet thankfully, mercifully, the Whipple still doesn’t have a chance against the GT’s massive reserves of cross-drilled braking power.

The mid-engined Ford was originally engineered without consideration for lead-footed beginners who wouldn’t know oversteer from a hole in the ground. Using more than half throttle in lower gears sends the back end shuffling in a fraction of a second. Then again, what makes a front-wheel-drive compact great in foul weather applies here: there’s more traction than in a Hollywood friendly, drag-prepped Supra.

I’m not saying that the Whipplecharged GT needs an in-cabin Xanax dispenser, but it wouldn’t hurt.  Putting the power down with relaxed restraint turns the super-supercharged GT into an effortless corner carver. Is downshifting needed for that turn? As if.  The mid-corner twist available in any gear is absolutely heroic. With a statuesque 700 lb-ft of torque at 3000 rpm, the GT’s driver merely considers clipping apexes. Or, perhaps an effortless, giggle-inducing power slide with a little more throttle?

That said, the Whipplecharger’s beauty lies in its intangibles. With revised rotors in the Lysholm twin-screw supercharger and 3.4 liters of displacement (a robust 1.1 liters larger than stock), the Whipple actually makes more power with less boost and friction. Just add “cooler” spark plugs, cat-back exhaust and a dyno tune (removing Dearborn’s awful throttle management) and the Whipplecharged GT is done.

Think about it: there are 6.34lbs holding back each horse in a stock Ford GT. The Ferrari Enzo comes in at an insane 4.56lb/hp. And our conservatively-built Whipple GT tester runs an “easy” 4.36lb/hp. And while the Enzo is priced near unobtainum, the Whipple’d GT adds $9k to the lowly Ford’s (comparatively) reasonable price of $170k.

The GT’s Whipple-work is the most fitting tribute to the original GT-40’s mission of spanking a Ferrari with minimal effort. The install is simple (ever spec’d the parts for a twin-turbo Gallardo?) and the results pay homage to the shade tree wrenchers that kept Ford on the map for the last century. But this time, a Ford takes its “honest” hot-rod heritage for higher pursuits, unabashedly neutering the mid-engine Elites in its wake. It is absolutely amazing.

[Whipple Industries provided their engine conversion kit at a discount.]

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44 Comments on “Review: 2005 Ford GT (Whipplecharged)...”


  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    I’ve seen exactly one of these, and it’s a wonderful-looking car. Maybe I’m just jaded, but most modern supercars look sort of clinically sterile. Even Lamborghinis. This car looks good. A little bit hoary, but still distinct and attractive.

    I’d hope that healthier Ford might be able to resume production. If I manage the redneck retirement plan, I’d be in line.

  • avatar
    Ed S.

    I have always respected the Ford GT not as a budget supercar per se, but as a no-nonsense supercar. One built without extravagances or unnecessary design flourishes. It also takes a giant leap for auto-kind with its interior, showing that style is not exclusive to the exterior of a supercar.

  • avatar

    I’ve been passed/passed by 2 of these in my S2000 and it’s lower than my car. :)

    There’s some amazing youtube videos of worked GT’s doing amazing things. I like the retro Blue/Orange strips color on this too. They can be had pretty cheaply to used with very low mileage, but watch out for all the very bad shade-tree conversions & kits over Fiero’s and even retro-fitted Cobra’s.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    I sat in one at a dealership. They had 250K on the window sticker and it sold a week later. The 240 MPH speedo was the best part of the dash.

  • avatar
    Voice of Sweden

    Lysholm Superchargers:

    http://www.opcon.se/index.asp?sPage=1&langID=2&cID=14

  • avatar

    The link to Whipple Industries at the end of the article doesn’t work, it directs to http:///

    Good article, anyway, I do love me some Ford GT.

  • avatar
    Mrb00st

    Oh, that is just amazing. I’ve never understood why some people ditched the blower for a twin-turbo setup on these; that Whipplecharger sounds perfect for this application.

  • avatar
    Selektaa

    I ran at a HPDE event last year at Summit Point Raceway in West Virginia, and there was a Ford GT in my run group. That is an amazing car. I’d be on the main straight going as fast as the 200hp in my Civic Si would take me, and before I knew it, my rearview was full of Ford. I’d point him around to pass, and he’d blow by me like I was standing still, even though I’d be at 100mph and accelerating. It really is an amazing car.

  • avatar
    Robstar

    Adding only $9k onto $170 for about +50% power is a no-brainer. Who WOULDN’T order this upgrade?

  • avatar

    Wowee, I love that car. It’s the only American car I would have in my garage without a millisecond of hesitation. 300 extra, reliable hp for 9K? Amazing, puts most every other tuner to shame.

    I sat in one once, I found the interior was cheap. Black plastic and aluminum looks like a Mazda interior, and the switchgear is parts bin stuff as well. You think they could have put a little more effort in for a car this exclusive, but all is forgiven because they instead spent their time giving it staggering performance. I don’t think Ford will ever top this exercise, at least not for another 40 years.

  • avatar

    Thank you all for reading. A couple of points:

    1. No, I haven’t driven an Enzo but odds are the Whipple’d GT makes its life pretty painful once the Ford loses its mediocre street tires.

    2. Post review, adding K&N filters netted all of 4 horses on the dyno. If that’s all it did for a car with 20psi of boost, imagine what little it provides on most cars, other than a lifetime of use. And image me trying to explain what a Ford GT is (and why it needs two K&N filters) to the guy at the AutoZone counter. Good times!

    ———————————–
    Mrb00st : Oh, that is just amazing. I’ve never understood why some people ditched the blower for a twin-turbo setup on these; that Whipplecharger sounds perfect for this application.

    I’d agree, but for those who must spank the 1000+hp Supras (or give the impression of being that badass), the twin turbo conversion is the way to go. Actually the new thing is to go with twin hairdryers AND the stock blower. You get massive turbo boost with zero turbo lag. Granted I love massively fast cars, but three force-feeders on one car makes my head hurt. Maybe I actually value my life…or don’t want to spend the rest of it in the slammer.

    ———————————–
    Robstar : Adding only $9k onto $170 for about +50% power is a no-brainer. Who WOULDN’T order this upgrade?

    Not to mention converting it back to stock (for better long term resale value) isn’t very tough: the only hard part is getting to the belt tensioner. It’s simply amazing what kind of power you can get from Ford (and GM) V8s for such little money.

    ———————————–
    JEC : Wowee, I love that car. It’s the only American car I would have in my garage without a millisecond of hesitation. 300 extra, reliable hp for 9K? Amazing, puts most every other tuner to shame.

    Just to be clear, this isn’t a “tuner” car. This is a Ford V8 that got a supercharger/cat-back upgrade in a friend’s garage, new plugs and K&N filters from parts stores, then a dyno tune at a local Mustang-savvy shop. When it comes to off the shelf parts, going shade tree with no needless tuner shop markup is the way to go, baby.

    I sat in one once, I found the interior was cheap. Black plastic and aluminum looks like a Mazda interior, and the switchgear is parts bin stuff as well.

    But most of the switchgear stuff is from European Fords. And the backlit HVAC controls are sweet. There isn’t much hard black plastic; the dash is leather with a black brushed aluminum gauge cluster. The F150 dash vents cool down the cabin surprisingly fast. The center console is supposedly magnesium; why they painted it silver like an $18,000 Focus is beyond me.

    Not that I’m disagreeing with you, the fit and finish comment in the star ratings reflects this.

  • avatar

    Just to be clear, this isn’t a tuner car. This is just a Ford V8 that got a supercharger/cat-back upgrade in a friend’s garage, new plugs and K&N filters from parts stores, then a dyno tune at a local Mustang-savvy shop. Shade tree stuff with no needless markup, baby.
    That’s great. You definitly don’t do shadetree upgrades to an Enzo, Lambo, etc…

  • avatar
    dolo54

    All I have to say is F U! I am jealous.

  • avatar

    Hey Robert, dolo’s not paying attention to our no-flaming policy. (kidding)

  • avatar
    netrun

    I was at the roll-out party for the GT. They had a GT40 there to provide the history. The GT40 made the GT look pretty tame. It was so kick ass. The GT40 is all racing while the GT is all cruising. My apologies to all the GT lovers, I just don’t feel it.

  • avatar
    kken71

    If I had unlimited resources, I’d still take a GT over any other exotic.

    Not that exclusivity influences my preference, but in my area, Ferarris are a dime a dozen on nice weekends. The only GT I’ve ever seen in the flesh was in a family friend’s garage (alas, on a snowy day).

    Incidentally, the owner, a 75+ year old man, sold his early Pantera to make room in his one-car garage. I wonder if the proceeds covered the sales tax on the GT.

  • avatar
    njgreene

    Seriously cool. 3 seconds of eBaying indicate that those 4,000 are not depreciating much at all. Shame. I suspect that there are similar kits for Vipers, ever think about a Head to Head comparison?

    As someone who’s more interested than knowledgeable, what (if anything) is the penalty for all this new performance? Is there a decrease in reliability?

  • avatar
    blautens

    Even with the cracked A arm scare, the oil leaks from the poor crankshaft finish, and the odd alarm issues…I still want it. But as cool and understated as this one looks, I MUST have the GT40 Gulf paint scheme….

    Just one lottery ticket away…

  • avatar

    netrun: yup, the new GT was purposely designed for streetability…just like most every Italian Exotic these days.

    —————–
    njgreene: I don’t see a kit for the Viper on Whipple’s site. That’s probably because the short block wasn’t designed for boost, you’d have to do serious “tuner” work (lower compression pistons to start) to get a blower on there.

    I drove this car stock and with the Whipple, there is no change in driving unless you use more than 1/4 throttle…except for better throttle response from the tune and the angry cat-back exhaust. Considering the Whipple is more efficient (runs cooler, etc) than the OEM Eaton unit, the reliability should be the same. If it breaks, its probably operator error.

    —————–
    blautens: the alarm issues were Clarkson’s aftermarket system installed before he took delivery. IIRC, he mentioned that important fact at the end of that article, after complaining about the Ford’s infernal reliability for no good reason. Gotta love that guy…

  • avatar
    Areitu

    SM– There aren’t enough pictures of the Ford GT’s backlit HVAC knobs lit up. Do they feel as good as they look?

    The Ford Focus turn signal and wiper stalks are a little off-putting, but then again, Corollas and Lexuses shared the same ones for years.

  • avatar

    Areitu: affirmative on the feel vs. look, its a good design.

    From the looks of it, the whole steering column is from a Focus, but its leather wrapped. And yes, its one of the worst parts of the car…not to take away from the overall 5-starness of the package.

  • avatar
    Sanman111

    While I haven’t seen one other than in pictures, I must say that the one above is the best looking I have seen. It seems understated and serious; very no nonsense, like the GT concept itself.

    With regard to Clarkson’s Ford GT issues, I recall him admitting that every problem that he had with the car could be traced back to after market retro-fitting (the alarm and parts needed to make it legal in Britain). He still bought the car twice. That should tell you something.

  • avatar
    onerareviper

    There is a twin screw blower available for the Viper. It is made by Roe Racing (Which I believe he sources from Lysholm)(www.roeracing.com). It had a custom CNC aluminum intake that the blower sits on. No need to modify hood. There is also a centrifugal type blower (Paxton). The SC’ers peak out on these units at about 800HP (A little more for the Paxton – 1100 HP). Cost is about 7 grand, a another 1 or 2 to install. Of course a bit more if you’re looking for 1000+ HP on the Paxton (Have to upgrade fuel system). Many people go the Twin Turbo route on the Viper. Since it is 8.0-8.4 liters, there is no turbo lag. Small kits produce 800 HP, and the big boys are 2000 HP. Yes, I said 2000 HP. They’ve been known to pin the limits of the dynometer at 1500RWHP (Many dyno’s limit). Mid 7 second quarter mile times at 180+ MPH. Of course the twin turbo kits start at 12 grand, probably average 25 grand (1200 HP), then 40+ for the big dogs. What’s nice is you can adjust turbo boost from inside the cabin, and how the boost is delivered. In other words, it can be streetable. As driveable as stock. The key is the Viper only needs about 10-13 PSI of boost to make 1000 HP. The huge displacement really helps, not to mention the incredible stoutness of the block. And yes, the Viper’s compression ratio is low to start (perfect for boosting). Not to mention all the Forged internal parts (1999 and before, you don’t have to do anything to the motors internals (has forged pistons). Post-1999, pistons are not forged and can only handle about 10 PSI. Still good for 1000 HP. But if you want more, need to swap them out with Forged pistons. The rest of the motor is fine). Then, you can unleash all the boost at the drag strip, etc… Here’s a few vids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKIFjQIgmOA

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9IOpuGVoyCk

    BTW – Ford originally said the car would be 500HP, but later changed the rating to 550HP. Stock. In other words, all Ford GT’s sold (at least in the USA) are 550 HP.

  • avatar
    BEAT

    Does it look good on a 6/71 holley?

    Top Gear Love this car. Jeremy said it’s his size

  • avatar

    onerareviper: thanks for the corrections and insight. I knew the newer ones had cast pistons, but I didn’t know they were good for 10psi and the (obvious) 1000hp that would come with it. I think its the same deal with most LS-series GM small blocks: hypereutectic pistons can take a little boost with no sweat.

    Roe Racing must get the blower from Lysholm, I’m pretty sure that’s where Eaton, Whipple and everyone else gets it. Mr. Dustin Whipple chatted with me via email about the scarcity of Lysholms when Eaton got the contract for the GT and Shelby GT500: apparently making the blowers to OEM specs (whatever that means) slowed down production rates and overall supply. But the problem solved itself once the GT bit the dust.

    Moral of the Story: everything has a story, you just have to look hard enough for it.

  • avatar
    briandfromo.p.

    Sajeev Mehta :

    2. Post review, adding K&N filters netted all of 4 horses on the dyno. If that’s all it did for a car with 20psi of boost, imagine what little it provides on most cars, other than a lifetime of use. And image me trying to explain what a Ford GT is (and why it needs two K&N filters) to the guy at the AutoZone counter. Good times!

    It’s always interesting while discussing the “Ford GT” and they think you’re talking about the Mustang; you attempt to clarify and you receive a blank stare…

  • avatar

    “Just to be clear, this isn’t a tuner car. This is just a Ford V8 that got a supercharger/cat-back upgrade in a friend’s garage, new plugs and K&N filters from parts stores, then a dyno tune at a local Mustang-savvy shop. Shade tree stuff with no needless markup, baby.”

    All the more reason it puts big-dollar tuners to shame. I guess they are too busy ricing out Civics with hand-grenade engines and sticking chrome on Hummers.

  • avatar
    JJ

    …and sticking chrome on Hummers.

    I guess someone has to do it, right?

    I’m not a big fan of tuning (or tuning by any other name) when it comes to exotics and I guess most people don’t judging by resale values. Especially when it comes to Ferrari/Lamborghini, tuning is just wrong on many, many levels.

    However, since the GT basically has a truck (F150) engine with a blower attached to it I don’t see why not. And…I learned something about Lysholm Supercharges so it’s all good.

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    As much as I (apparently) hate domestics and tuners, this really does it for me. The GT has been my favorite supercar for some time, and I like the approach taken here. Enough power to let ‘er run with the Italians, but no loss in reliability… very nice.

    Thanks for sharing, Sajeev!

  • avatar
    njgreene

    Sajeev (and commentors),

    Thanks for the info. Now if only I didn’t have to chose between our Honda Fit and ’94 Explorer for my motoring.

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    THE ONE is on eBay – it has the Whipple and the Gulf colors. I feel sorry for the owner. I personally know 5 or 6 people that would kill him dead for that car.

    This is a mostly great review Sajeev. I would have thrown in the bits about how your nearly shat yourself just to get cave-man like in the explanation of primtivity of the power.

  • avatar

    Thank you all for reading and sharing your comments.

    I hope EVERYONE takes away that tuning doesn’t mean what you see in mainstream car mags. I might even be a tuner, but I get parts from junkyards, message boards, craigslist, etc. And with rare exceptions, I feel cosmetic modifications have no place on a “tuned” car.

    USAFMech: can it be a great review if I told you the car never scared me? I only giggled like a 5 year old every time the wheels broke loose. But running this beast down the Texas Mile would indeed scare me shitless.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    JJ, Other than displacement, I can’t think of a thing similar between the GT’s engine and that of an F150. So, what else is shared between the two?

  • avatar
    stuntpuppy

    This car is the reason I just registered for TTAC. HOLY CRAP do I want one of these. I got passed by a “normal” GT40 about three months ago, and the exhaust note gave me heart palpitations. This would probably send me into full-blown cardiac arrest. God bless the whackjobs at Ford who made the car happen, and the Whipple Industries nutballs who made it even better!

  • avatar

    stuntpuppy :

    Welcome. And Amen. Best exotic I’ve ever driven. OK, there was rust in places and I’m not so sure about build quality. But charisma, power, handling and charm– the Ford GT (not GT40) has it all. Well, except for stability control…

  • avatar

    PaulVincent: from what I know, none of the castings are the same, but its all interchangeable. That’s why Ford calls ’em “Modular” V8s.

    Probably the best thing I can say about a GT (esp. a Whipple’d one) is that it leaves me speechless: I can’t say a word when looking at it, driving it, or pegging the boost gauge in it. And I’m usually pretty good at talking about cars.

  • avatar
    stuntpuppy

    Robert Farago:

    Arrgh! Absolutely – GT, not GT-40! My enthusiasm for the car got the better of me!

  • avatar
    thetopdog

    Robert:

    Rust on a new Ford GT? Unless it was on the brake rotors that is unacceptable

  • avatar

    thetopdog :

    Trust me. It is.

  • avatar
    porschespeed

    Sajeev,

    Perhaps I can briefly shine a light through a few of the apparently foggy areas…

    I had an interesting conversation with Stefan Dunert (pres. of Opcon)ca. 2002 at a trade show about one of his cars. It was, yup, a Viper. With a twin-screw. 1000 HP Vipers are a straightforward exercise, and nowhere near the cutting edge.

    Last time I was out at Art Whipple’s place (while ago), they were still manufacturing the units in-house, under license from Opcon. Not sure what the current scenario is, but they do (did?) have the required machines to manufacture them from scratch.

    The Eaton/Lysholm thing is a slighty different kettle of Swedish fish. In a nutshell, Eaton is the Tier I purveyor of the Rootes blower -an adiabatic holocaust that was never really useful on any internal combustion engine, save for 2-stroke diesels. A Rootes is neat as a pump, lousy as a compressor. It is however, relatively easy to manufacture, and therefore the favorite OEM word – cheap.

    Eaton getting Lysholm into bed a few years ago has yielded a much more functional Rootes. Still cheaper and easier to manufacture than a ‘real’ internal compression twin-screw (Lysholm), but not nearly the atmospheric Abu Ghraib that the classic Rootes is.

    Meanwhile, back at the Whipple. I’m sure that forced induction really wakes that GT up, and a twin-screw supercharger is a really easy way to do it. Bet that was a fun drive.

    I understand the current Whipple (prolly on that GT) is mid 3L displacement, which is Brobdignagian for a twin-screw. Makes me wonder if it really is true twin-screw, or some sort of modified unit to eliminate those pesky payments to Opcon. I’ll look into it.

    Greg

  • avatar

    porschespeed: Wow, what you posted is fascinating. I read Whipple’s history of the screw compressor (link) and its pretty close to what you say. Eaton + Lysholm is a strange hybrid, but you only understand that when you see how much more power the Whipple makes (with more efficiency) then the stock Eaton unit with a smaller pulley.

    Yes, the Whipple is a 3.4L. I heard they are making a 3.8L too…which might give pause to the nutjobs (I kid because I love) interested in a twin-turbo conversion.

    It still blows me away that the Whipple GT has a supercharger that’s about the same size as the displacement of most V6 family sedans. That’s just nuts, but it sure as heck works.

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    This car is one thing that my wife and I can agree on, it is absolutely the most hypnotic beautifully designed car (okay maybe she wasn’t quite as gaga as me). Several years ago, I saw a pair of them at a dealership in Sebastopol with $200k price tags and one at a dealership in Roseville, CA with no price tag (it had been sold). I love the exterior, I love the engine, I love the toggle switches on the dash, harking back to its GT40 inspiration. A former state senator who lives in my city has one, and I see it every now and then around town, just to renew my lust. I was jealous a few months ago when you got to drive the Ferrari (I believe it was you, anyway), but this tops the Ferrari in my opinion. Now that you’ve driven a Ford GT, I don’t think anything could make me more envious of you unless it was you owning a Ford GT. Finally, despite his complaints, which were mostly his own causing, I don’t think Jeremy Clarkson has ever more obviously loved a car than the Ford GT.

  • avatar

    Yeah I drove the F430, which was an amazing machine. Smooth, effortless, and plenty of Italian craftsmanship. The GT is the complete opposite: aside from the leather wrapped everything, its a beast. Heavy steering, brutal engine…but it doesn’t matter. The GT is the car that everyone respects and many truly lust for.

    Not that I care about turning heads, but the GT turned way more heads in traffic than the F430. Not just by a little, it was downright amazing.

    Performance on the street is similar, but a call to Whipple and the F430 is toast…and Enzos are next on the list. Caramba!

  • avatar
    casper00

    One of two ford models that I actaully admire, the other one happens to the the 2000 Mustang Saleen….

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