Review: 2005 Ford GT (Whipplecharged)
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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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!
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