Dale Amy
May 1, 2002

The Modern Version Of A Classic Performer
Like a cover song, a modern version of a classic car can give new life to it-or tarnish its memory. Fortunately for us, Ford appears to have provided new life for the storied GT40. That's right-the endurance racer that crowned the Total Performance era by taking First, Second, and Third Place at Le Mans in 1966. You know-the one hot rodded to take out Ferrari with American iron. It may well be the ultimate performance Ford, and unlike the comic-book angularity of the GT90, this modern GT40 concept unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit modernizes the dream for today's expectations.

"GT40 is the ultimate Living Legend," J. Mays, Ford vice president of design, explains. "It's a true supercar with appeal equal to that of the greatest sports cars in the world, but with the addition of a heritage no one can match. Essential elements of the original-including the stunning low profile and mid-mounted American V-8-continue in this latest interpretation of the classic."

Though performance is certainly the theme, the idea was to make the new car livable and driveable by today's standards. First off was to make the diminutive original a bit more spacious without giving up performance. To that end, Special Vehicle Team Engineering built a modern, aluminum space frame that puts the fuel cells in the center of the car and allows for larger door openings along with, of course, the use of composite body panels. The result is 18 inches longer and 4 inches taller than the original.

Keen Ford historians will note this car doesn't look exactly like the original, but the changes are subtle. Ford enlisted Camilo Pardo, who has long painted classic GT40s, to perform the redesign. He brought in an original car for inspiration, viewed classic auto films, and scrapped his first idea to come up with the design you see here.

"Freeing ourselves of the fear of creating a car that looked too much like the original was a liberating experience for this team," Camilo says. "But staying true to the original themes in a clean, modern design made this the most difficult project I've ever been involved with."

Though a difficult task, Camilo seems to have pulled it off, as did the SVTE engineers. How would they replicate the 200-mph Le Mans performance of the 427? How about with a supercharged, intercooled 5.4 modular pumping out 500 hp and 500 lb-ft of torque. Curiously, unlike the '03 Cobra, the GT40 combines a supercharger with an all-aluminum, Four-Valve engine with superb results. "The Ford mod engines are great performance engines that allow much versatility for us as engineers and for our customers who love to modify their cars," SVTE's John Coletti says. "This application really demonstrates its awesome potential."

The 5.4 is backed with an RBT six-speed transaxle featuring a limited-slip and a 4.22:1 final drive. And, naturally, the aforementioned fuel cells supply 28.4 gallons of fuel for those endurance races.

So what does this all mean? Will we see new GT40s taking on Vipers, Vettes, and Saleen S7s at Le Mans and in the showroom? Maybe or maybe not, but Ford has put quite an effort into making this new version viable for the modern era, and it couldn't hurt that our friends at SVTE were at the heart of this car's development. Success means they'll be given more projects in the future-some of which we will be able to buy.

Classic Focus
Fresh from its debut at last fall's SEMA show, we caught Classic Design Concepts' [(248) 624-7997; www.classic-designconcepts.com] gorgeous '02 Focus ZX5. The car's new World Rally Car-inspired front fascia has round foglights seamlessly blending into a fender flare/spat arrangement and it is topped off with a contoured/vented hood. Gone is the cheesy plastic factory grille, replaced by one of diagonal stainless mesh that is matched in the hood vent and child-swallowing lower grille openings. We're not sure yet whether the fender flares will make it into production, but we know the hood and fascia should be available by the time you read this. - Dale Amy

Harnessing Power
Beginning in 1999, the Cobra Four-Valve switched to a new injector design (called the P-style), as did the Crown Vic's 4.6 Two-Valve in 2001. The problems with these new injectors are that they cost considerably more than the old D-style versions, and perhaps more importantly, they are available in few flow ratings-19, 24, and the FR-500's 33 lb/hr are the only three we're aware of.

The good news is that Paul's High Performance [(517) 764-7661; www.paulshp.com] has engineered weatherproof wiring-harness adapters to allow use of any of the available range of D-style injectors in these applications. Simply plug these between the ends of the factory injector harnesses and the D-style injector of your choice. A set of eight adapters costs $135. - Dale Amy

Let The World See It!
That's right, you can let everyone see your show Ford at the World Ford Challenge and not miss a moment of the drag-racing action. This year's Mustang & Fords and Mustang Monthly Auto Show Spectacular will be held on a newly paved area next to the drag-strip at Gateway International Raceway. Of course, if you haven't heard, the World Ford Challenge will be held on May 16-19, 2002, at Gateway. For more informa-tion on the car-show rules, check out the WFC5 program in this issue or go to www.worldfordchallenge.com.