2016 Design of the Year: Ford GT, Automobile Magazine
2016 Design of the Year: Ford GT
T he latest installment of Automobile`s Design of the Year was almost too effortless for us
to pick. The Ford GT was the most titillating, most innovative, and most surprising meant-for-production
car to make an appearance in 2015, period. No matter how you consider it–as a front-line competition car or a fabulous high-performance coupe–Ford`s decision to comeback to serious international sports-car racing fifty years after GT40s very first demonstrated up at Le Stud’s was the thickest performance-car news of the year. The fact Ford sprung the fresh GT on the world without the series of concepts and multiyear promises of «real soon now» –as heralded the Camaro`s come back to market a while back–is all to the credit of the Blue Oval`s upper management, whose silocentric methods were switched radically by former CEO Alan Mulally and carried on by present incumbents.
enveloping shapes, as was done to the point of absurdity in the `50s. In grand touring cars, we`ve seen gorgeous road-capable racers like the Ferrari GTO and the Ford GT40 evolve into very exotic supercars like Koenigseggs and Paganis, all still very much in the same mold. Racing «sports cars,» like the exceptionally efficient (but also insuperably ugly) Prototype racers that now fight for overall victory at Le Guy’s, have absolutely no visual linkage to anything any of us would want to be seen driving
on the road. That`s not true for the fresh Ford GT.
McLaren 650S, one of McLaren design director Frank Stephenson`s best efforts to date, and the beautiful Ferrari four hundred fifty eight Speciale. All three are great-looking machines. Yet the Ford, which is longer, broader, and taller than its ancestor–from which it is clearly influenced with numerous points of recognition artfully incorporated–also looks fresh. And remarkably, it manages to look smaller than both the half-century-old GT40, with its little, typically British racing 95-inch wheelbase, and Camilo Pardo`s brilliant GT follow-up of a decade ago, with 11.7 inches more wheelbase and almost four inches more height.
Chris Svensson, British-born design leader for the fresh GT (and all North American Ford
products) , attributes the impression of it being much smaller to the bod`s very
narrow central portion, which includes the almost vertical exterior cabin walls. Amko
Leenarts, Ford`s global director of interior design , insists the cockpit is certainly cozy but
also generous enough in width for two people to be truly comfy in the car. The two
top designers are genuinely our kind of people. Svensson has been with Ford for twenty two years,
having launched his career with the Blue Oval in Cologne in 1992. One of his very first big
projects was the Ka, a minicar very polarizing in its style. We ran a Four Seasons test of
the Ka soon after it appeared, in anticipation of it coming to the U.S. I liked it very much, to the
point of buying the test car and running it cheerfully for a few years. Others hated the look.
driving it and wants another.
when the GT was done. They hoped for another project as titillating,» says Svensson.
There is no way around the fact this is a radical design, with what amounts to two square-cornered tunnels punched through the car`s sides on a diagonal, their theoretical forms converging behind the physical portion of the car. Its artful styling lies in finessing the details, radii of disparate elements, and the three principal profile lines: the centerline section and the fender profiles. In fact , the front fender profile diverges on the tunnel diagonal, so it is continuous in side view but doesn`t truly have anything to do with the rear fender, except both fenders have harmonious rises over their respective wheels.
the two seats, the engine, and harass system. The main radiator in front takes air in low
and expels the heated air from the core on top of the spandex hood, where it is directed outward so it
«washes» the sides and adds fever energy to the air flowing around (and through) the car. The GT`s
airflow pattern is complicated and hugely significant, but the designers were just as worried that you`d see the entire as an elegant, flowing form. «We didn`t want it to look like a science project,» says Svensson. And it doesn`t, even however it is as much of one as Porsche`s nine hundred nineteen Le Boy’s Prototype.
driver on the left (we don`t know yet if there will be RHD versions) contains all driving information, while the screen on the right is housed in a non-structural section containing ducting, wiring, and the passenger airbag. That touchscreen is related to the infotainment system and will react to gloved forearms, unlike some fussier screens in home-use devices.
Leenarts chose to make the second-level housing a different color than the mostly black cockpit and to carry the light color across to the seat backrest cushions but not the headrests. The only other touch of color is rather subtle: The inward portion of the air-conditioning outlets is beryllium-colored, however
obviously not made from the actual metal, which is exceptionally toxic. Those outlets, two to a side, are affixed to the doors, which pivot up and out when open, so ingress is enhanced but not necessarily effortless.
aluminum, came to the stylist-designers from engineering. We think this GT is basically Ford`s head of
global product development Raj Nair`s car, conforming to a vision he sold to management and that the mechanical engineering and styling teams were able to execute.
They did so amazingly well, ultimately producing Automobile‘s Design of
1. Seen with the finned «cans» behind the lenses, the taillights look like something out of a 1930s Flash Gordon comic.
Two. The «mustache» form in the rear is fairly a bit more refined looking than the front one and integrates well into what is a very elaborate rear fascia.
hard line proceeds into the tunnel where it fades to nothing.
Four. This evidently draping panel recalls the original BMW i8 concept car … and some Formula one cars
as well. It directs cooling air toward the front wheels and brakes and rests on the black under-nose
extension as it wraps around the sides.
Five. In June, I said, «This black band is the least attractive aspect of the overall design … a little thick and less refined than the rest of the car.» I still think so.
6. The grille texture is coarse, and the entire opening seems very big. But who knows? It could be necessary to provide sufficient cooling to the turbocharged engine.
extracting air and fever from within the form. Including harass outlets, there are ten separate
outlets apart from the diagonal air tunnels. The empty spaces, the negative areas
of the tunnels, which are largely open-top trenches, lend a dramatic aspect to what is a
cohesive single form visually–a selection of disparate shapes tied together by blades.
and links the front to previous Ford GTs. Subtle and clever.
9. Albeit the headlamp clusters are far from identical than those on past models,
they evoke the GT40 and the last GT, as do the radiator air outlets, similar in appearance
to the many variants used on different racing GT40s.
Ten. In this top view, it`s effortless to see how abrupt and straight the through-body tunnels are.
11. Engine- and gearbox-cooling air is ingested at the leading edge of the rear fenders and passes into the wake through the taillights.
12. You can just see the taillights` crimson rings peeking out of the assets`s rear corners.
13. This relatively short-span wing rises up and forward when needed.
14. Proof of the designer`s artistry is seen in this side profile loop, which retains a graceful curve whether you look at it from straight above, from the side, or any combination of angles. This is indeed
hard to accomplish, and it was done flawlessly.
and airbag panel. Swinging up out of the way on the doors is a excellent idea.
16. The tachometer is a horizontal bar code, running from the blue light at idle to the crimson one at 7,000 rpm.
17. The triple zero on the right is the digital speedometer, which might very well be shut off in Track mode.
Legal. The touchscreen panel responds to gloved arms.
Nineteen. The light-colored nonstructural cover shields ducting and wiring. A cross-car structural plank sits at
20. Hole-filled gear-change paddles are purposefully oversized and turn with the wheel, so a driver can execute racing-style gear switches even when applying steering lock.
21. This is the only visible part of the structural transverse plank. The glare shield above is an
22. It might not be as utter of knobs, buttons, and warning lamps as an F1 steering wheel,
but there`s a lot of information available, and there`s no need to take your mitts away
from the wheel when you`re driving hard.
the intersection of the A-pillar and roof.
24. Even in true side view, the side loop retains an unbroken flowing line of fine
25. Notice how rising lines on two separate surfaces complement and finish each other, providing acute visual thrust to the profile.