Evan J. Smith
Freelancer
July 13, 2016
Photos By: Ford Motor Company

It’s one thing for a manufacturer to introduce a striking design and grab headlines—it’s another thing entirely to take that design and win races. Not one to tease us with radical show cars, Ford introduced the 2017 Ford GT and the intention was clear—win Le Mans! And in short order, Ford conquered that demanding endurance race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans in its first try.

Winning the GTE class over Ferrari and Corvette 50 years after the original Ford GT-40 won the famed race in France gave the all-new Ford GT instant cred and helped build the foundation for the new GT supercar’s history. And while the beginning of this story has been written on the track, the next chapter will undoubtedly be about the street-going Ford GT that’s set to be released this year.

Like the racer, Ford wants, no…, it needs maximum performance from the road-going model. And with that in mind, the Detroit auto manufacturer has been relentlessly refining the low-slung, V6 twin-turbo EcoBoost-powered supercar. Not just the engine and powertrain, mind you, but the exotic carbon fiber body that utilizes a radical design with wings, scoops and active aero devices.

“The prime reason we come to the tunnel is to get the actual physical data on the vehicle,” said Ford engineering supervisor Nick Terzes. “We’ll look at interior wind-noise acoustics, and the aerodynamics of the vehicle.” Terzes added that the GT is, “An innovation showcase in efficient EcoBoost engines, lightweighting and aerodynamics. The Ford GT is a study in functional design and active airflow management.”

In the attached video, Terzes takes us behind the scenes at Wind Tunnel 8 in Allen Park, Michigan, where a pre-production prototype Ford GT that’s used for verification undergoes wind tunnel testing. The video shows some of the testing done to “prove out” the extensive computer aided aerodynamic models with physical wind tunnel data, at airspeeds approaching 125 mph (200 km/h).

During the expedited design and engineering process, Terzes and the Ford GT team worked feverishly for hours on end in the Allen Park facility, demonstrating the non-stop nature of vehicle development. “Being the GT program,” Terzes said, “we effectively test 24/7.”

Some of what you see in the footage includes the active rear wing—one of the aerodynamic features on the 2017 Ford GT. The wing is designed to greatly improve performance, stability and efficiency. Ford hasn’t released performance or top speed numbers, but we’re guessing the Ford GT will be capable of topping 200 mph, and to do, it will need reduced drag with enhanced stability.

“As dynamic and beautiful as the design is, every single opening has a purpose on the car. So If you see a large grille, if you see a scoop, it wasn’t just put there to look good,” Terzes said. “It was put there because it has a function. In the end, all these late hours, all these weekends that we work, are absolutely worth it to be a part of a program like this, and to create the ultimate GT.”

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