Ford GT Job 1 at Multimatic - The Making of a Future Legend
An invitation to automotive industry supplier Multimatic in suburban Toronto is one you never turn down.
It’s legendary in the racing world, winning countless major races and championships, and it’s also the unsung hero supplier behind cars like Aston Martin’s One-77 and Vulcan. With those projects, it produced the carbon tubs, suspensions, and performed much of the engineering required for Aston to deliver complete cars.
While Ford’s been trotting out GT prototypes and pilot cars for what seems to be an eternity, I’m a bit impartial to the project given my indifferent relationship with the carmaker. Still, for Multimatic, assembling the Ford GT takes its business to another level altogether. In the back of my mind, I know the Multimatic factor is going to figure prominently into this car.
December 16, 2016 marked the day that the first 2017 Ford GT rolled off the assembly line, which means Ford achieved its goal of delivering cars before then end of this calendar year.
While the event – Job 1, in Ford Motor Company parlance – was a bit ceremonial, since the first GT goes to Bill Ford and that car was not identified, it was legitimized when Ford’s EVP and product chief, Raj Nair, was driven to the airport by Larry Holt, Multimatic VP and certified mad scientist, in the black-and-orange GT you see here.
While the world perceives the Ford GT as an American supercar, Ford doesn’t seem to be burdened by the Canadian factor. As Nair told us, “I haven’t heard too much about it, as far as Canadian assembly (is concerned). Obviously we’re a global company and we’ve been in Canada almost as long as we’ve existed. So the fact that we designed it in the US and the engine’s built in the US and (the GT is) assembled in Canada, it’s a Ford and we’re proud to be here.”
Since the introduction, Ford’s announced that its commitment to the GT’s racing program and production of the GT road car will extend to four years. For applicants of the GT road car, you now have a greater shot at getting one, but not by much.
Addressing that other elephant in the room, Nair told us choosing its customers was difficult.
“It is a tough situation,” he said. “We didn’t expect 6,500 applicants. We’re only building 250 a year. 87 percent of people that we picked were owners of the ’05 and ’06 GT, so we certainly prioritized them because they’re loyal Ford customers and obviously loyal to the Ford GT. We wanted to make sure that this wasn’t a car that only the ultra exclusive rich were going to be able to go in, get a car, put it in their museum, shrink wrap it, make sure it stayed at three and a half miles, and the wrapping on the owner’s manual was still on it and all of that. This is a car that is meant to be driven and we built it to be driven, not to be put on a pedestal in a museum.”
Naturally, both Nair and Dave Pericak, head of Ford Performance, enthused about the capabilities and dual nature of the GT — docile around town and a proper weapon on the track, they said. At the push of the track mode button, the car lowers, spring rates roughly double, and damping rates adjust to match, which is unheard of for any supercar. Even Holt’s comments around driving impressions and benchmark lap times echoed those of his bosses at Ford, and I know Holt to be one of the few execs in the business refreshingly free of bullshit.
Pericak told us the GT was a special opportunity for the company.
“It’s super cool to be able to have the company give us everything we needed,” he said. “When Raj asked me to lead this, he said ‘I’m gonna give you whatever you need. We’re gonna do this.’ To have the resources, to have everything that you need to pull this off — and we haven’t even told you guys half of what’s in this car — and there’s a lot of stuff that’s patent-pending, there are so many cool things. It’s so cool because every part of this car is awesome.”
The man who chief engineered the current Mustang, Pericak clearly loves his job and, perhaps a little ahead of schedule, revealed a bit of GT tech that Ford’s been working hard to keep under wraps.
On the subject of aerodynamics, Pericak said, “The aero is almost F1-like. The car has a keel in it. For those that don’t know, that keel is an F1-type design. We haven’t given you downforce numbers and we’re not going to yet — but I can tell you when we do give them to you, we are creating positive downforce on this car in every ride height. We have so much front downforce that we actually have to bleed it off.”
The laundry list of parts and innovative engineering that go into the GT are just the tip of the iceberg. There’s the Roush-built Ecoboost V6 (which Ford is only saying produces “over 600 horsepower”), a Getrag dual clutch box, pushrod suspension, electronically controlled spool valve dampers from Multimatic, selectable ride height, active aero, a roll structure that satisfies both road car and racing requirements, packaging that has been meticulously engineered, and carbon fibre, steel, and aluminum chassis construction that leverages the best of current technology.
As a so-called auto critic who’s fortunate to have experience in nearly every modern supercar, I’m always a bit skeptical about manufacturer claims. Even without much data (thanks, Ford) and certainly without driving impressions, I do think the Ford GT is going to be next level.
I may be somewhat loath to say it, but the GT will be far, far greater than the sum of its parts. Knowing that the best and brightest at both Ford and Multimatic have been deeply involved in this project, I think the GT is going to set a new supercar standard. It’s going to add some real polish to the Ford oval and, as Barney Stinson would say in the most enthusiastic and sincere way possible, it will be legendary.
[Images: Sam VarnHagen for Ford]
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Still made in America! Since you know Canada is in America... otherwise,we are just splitting hait's. I read a comment from a competitor team that they said the GT was running the most advanced aero in its class. The comment came across as genuine and without envy ( or at least that's how I read it ). Pretty good stuff, It will be cool to see the more innovate tech revealed as time goes by and like it's predecessors this should be a classic some years down the road. It will also be interesting to see how GM's mid-engine car stacks up. My guess it will be very close or exceed the GT in performance and at a cheaper price but GM just can't catch lightning in a bottle quite like Ford can. Especially when it comes to something like this. They have a strong program with the Corvette on the track but Ford has so much heritage to draw from as the only domestic manufacturer to bring home a cup even if it was half a century ago.
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