Jamal Hameedi Ford GT project manager
How was a road car built on a race-team schedule?
1) Upfront analysis: the programme was built on the premise that every engineer would engineer their parts correctly first time out.
2) Most of the team had racing backgrounds, so we were not intimidated by a four-year job in 24 months.
3) Huge reliance on computer engineering. In some cases we didn’t make prototypes before we tooled the part for production. Unheard of in production cars.
4) Everyone sat in the same room, so everything was being engineered in the same place and in real time.
How much of a risk was it to use new processes?
Our experts analysed which new techniques we could execute with high confidence. We used our aerospace experience in advanced aluminum welding and corporate-wide experience with superplastic-formed body panels. Those panels were crucial we could not have maintained the voluptuous lines of the GT with traditional stamped technology.
Why a spaceframe and not a monocoque?
We chose extruded-aluminum/cast-node spaceframe architecture for several reasons: quicker to tool stage than a monocoque: low tooling cost: superior stiffness-to-weight ratio than a unibody: and greater flexibility for future spin-offs.
Why an aluminium frame and not composites?
A composite frame would be more expensive. While ours is a prestige supercar. composite construction drives costs high (for example: £222,000-plus for Enzo. Carrera GT and SLR). We were not in that price range, nor that volume range worldwide.
Will much of this project feed back into production? We are currently doing a deep retrospective review of the Ford GT programme and collecting lessons learned. We plan to seed the processes that worked well into Ford mainstream product development. We are also looking at using some components developed on this car in other high-performance models.
What is the rationale behind such an intensive and expensive project prestige or profit?
The GT shows the world that Ford has the engineers. the technology, and the passion to make a class-leading car first time out in a market that we have never participated in and that’s quite an achievement. But we do not plan on losing money with this car.
The team all appear to be real enthusiasts. Was it a volunteer group?
Yes we all eat. breathe and live cars! We all stepped forward and said. “We want to work on this programme”. We had lots of applicants for a small number of places, and everyone made a two-year commitment. Programmes like this (just like racing programmes) are a lifestyle commitment and that’s not for everyone.
Might there be a lighter, stripped version, like Porsche’s ClubSport models?
That would be excellent! Lighter is always better. But we don’t have any plans yet to do a lightweight car. It’s something that we might look at in the future.
Does the car have a racing future? If it had, what would need changing?
We talk about it all the time, but we have no official racing plans at this time. The primary area to address would be the supercharged engine: it doesn’t fit well in any of the current regulations.