Off radar

The Fallen Stars
Ford GT90

Ford’s dream of returning to the top

Photo credit: Ford, Wheelsage

When you create a masterpiece, and there’s very little else we can call the Ford GT40, it’s hard to celebrate it with a model that was supposed to replace it in the hearts of enthusiasts. However, in the mid-90s, some 30 years after that famous Le Mans hat-trick in 1966, the board of directors at Ford decided to do just that.

Ford GT90: serious attitude but little resemblance to the famous GT40

The project manager of this arduous task was John Coletti, director of Ford’s Special Vehicles department, who was given very little time to propose something truly unique that was to have gone by the name GT90: the goal was the Detroit Motor Show in January 1995 where it would be accompanied by the claim “The most powerful supercar in the world”. 

One of the advantages of the GT40 from the 60s was the perfect match between the elegance of a grand tourer and the performance of a racing car

To save some precious time, Coletti raided the Jaguar parts bin, which was owned by the Ford Group at the time, and the chassis, suspension and gearbox of his GT90 creation were all sourced from the XJ220. The engine was instead developed in-house in the USA, starting from the block used in the V8 of the Lincoln Town Car, reduced to six cylinders and then paired with another to create a 5,927cc V12 monster. The new unit was also treated to forced induction courtesy of four turbos, allowing it to reach a power output of 720hp and a torque of 850nm. Truly spectacular numbers for the 90s. 

The sculpted shapes of the GT90 unequivocally announce the desire for extreme performance

Built around a honeycomb-section aluminium monocoque and featuring the same ceramic tiles used to insulate the passenger compartment from the engine as those used on the Space Shuttle, in addition to numerous handmade details, took the final cost of the car had however brought the cost of the car into the stratosphere. So in the end, ford lacked the courage to put the GT90 into production, even an even very limited run. 

The interior in total Ford blue, combines the tradition of a manual gearbox and visible instruments with the futuristic design of the controls

We would have to wait another 7 years for the GT40 to finally have a worthy heir: the GT40 Concept which sold more than 4,000 units worldwide.

But the GT90 deserves credit: it forced Ford’s top management to understand the need to turn the dream of making a supercar into reality and follow the footsteps of one of the most beautiful cars in history. 

The profile of the GT90 is very interesting as it anticipated future stylistic trends, first and foremost, 4 years later, the EB 18.4 Veyron
The compact 720hp V12 engine specially created for the GT90 features the same triangles on the head cover as those that can be seen on the exterior styling of the car
The GT40 had to wait until 2022 before returning to the podium at Le Mans. It went by the name of Ford GT and the shape was very similar to the original. A great commercial success