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Ford Plans "Halo Model" Intro at NAIAS 2015. Let's Pray They've Learned Something in the Past Decade.

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On: Fri, Dec 26, 2014 at 10:41AM | By: Andrew W Davis


Ford Plans  "Halo Model" Intro at NAIAS 2015. Let's Pray They've Learned Something in the Past Decade.

Ten years ago, at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show, Ford unveiled what they thought would be accepted as the successor—“spiritually”, at least—to the 1960s phenomenal Ford GT/GT 40. Billed—by Ford, naturally—as “the world’s mightiest supercar”, it featured a mid-mounted, quad-turboed six-liter V12 said to put 720 horsepower and 660 lb.-ft. of torque to the rear wheels.

At a claimed 3,199lbs. all-in, Ford’s claims of 0-to-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, quarter-mile times of 10.9 seconds at 140 mph and a top speed of 235 mph didn’t seem all that far-fetched. [Additional street cred came from the fact that Ford liberally raided then-captive Jaguar’s parts bin for some of the choicest pieces of their “supercar”, the XJ220.]

How could they go wrong?

Very easily, as it turned out.

Well, first off, the GT90 fell victim to FoMoCo’s “New Edge” styling disease, which meant every car they built had to have a variety of angular gewgaws that served no purpose other than the purpose of most every other disease, which is to kill everything it infects. And sure enough, the GT90 went nowhere.

[The fascination with triangles and obnoxious purple interior sure didn't help either.]

Years later they got it right with the Ford GT, both performance-wise and—perhaps most importantly—aesthetically. But recent rumblings from the Blue Oval says they’re not planning just a street version of their GT redo, but something that could actually try for a win at Le Mans. And that would likely take a LOT more juice than the current 5.4-liter supercharged mill can produce.

They’re also on a deadline crush, as they want this new car to not just debut as a concept at the '15 Detroit Auto Show, but to appear as an actual 2016 model, so they can make a run at Le Mans on the 50th Anniversary of their first win (of five) with the car that has become known as the GT40.

Now Ford is officially mum on the details, but according to Road & Track, after officially considering—and then killing—a Mustang derivative to carry the Ford banner, Ford Racing boss Jamie Allison had this to say on their plans for an even more super Ford supercar: "Our focus right now is, obviously, finishing the season on a high note at Petit Le Mans. Our focus is also working with our partners. I do look forward into a future of some of the classes in the sport, including the P2 we just talked about. We really have our near-term lenses on our participating in the sport and that's really the scope that we are focused on.

"Anything beyond that would be strictly endeavoring into… just propagating something that is not within the scope of what we focus on. In our realm and in the world of sports-car racing, [we're] really focused on our EcoBoost-powered DP and focusing on the season here as it comes to an exciting end at Petit Le Mans."

And so Ford’s super-duper car plans come full-circle. Technically the GT90 could've worn the EcoBoost label back in '05—had it existed—being (multi-) turbocharged and all. Granted, they probably wouldn’t want (or need) a honkin’ six-liter V12 in the belly of their new beast, especially seeing as how we can (relatively) easily make 800 horsepower with a turbo four racing motor these days.

But if Ford is really considering running the 24 in 2016 in the GTE class—as they’re rumored to be shooting for—they'd need to make street versions, too. With the Ford GT they worked the problem the other way around, introducing a street concept in 2002 with production cars hitting customers’ driveways in 2007, while the racing versions—the GT1 and GT3—came years later.

This could all be vaporware, of course, but I think it’s more likely that the second they had the latest Ford GT all figured out they started dreaming up ways to kick its ass. After all, that’s how every other automotive company—and product planning program—works.

Just look at the third-generation Dodge Challenger: The first cars—model year 2008—featured a top-shelf SRT8 model with a 6.1-liter naturally-aspirated V8 that produced 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque. In 2011, the SRT8—and sibling SRT8 392—had V8s enlarged to 6.4-liters and 470 horsepower and an equal amount of torque. Then just four years later Dodge introduced the supercharged 6.2-liter “Hellcat” V8 with its ridiculous 707hp and 650 lb.-ft. of twist.

Every other update they made to the Challenger aside, that means Dodge upped the on-the-street Hemi-engine ante 282 horsepower and 230 lb.-ft. in just seven years. And seeing has how the industry standard for designing, destroying and then redesigning runs three to four years at minimum, they would have had to have had the “Hellcat” Hemi designed—and probably in engineering—before the 6.4-liter update hit the street in 2011.

So chances are more than good that even before the last of the 4,038th Ford GTs left the line in 2006 that Ford had already been at work on its successor. And thanks to our tanked economy, there’s no telling when that successor might have been in my feverish car-testing hands through natural progression.

One thing—I hope—is for sure, though: IF Ford is going to unveil its new supercar at the upcoming car show shindig in Detroit, it’s easily going to be the highest-performance American production car the company—and perhaps the domestic industry—has ever produced.

And while Ford may never create the “world’s mightiest supercar” per their promise a decade ago, I feel fairly certain that they've made sure that the GT90’s plans have been drawn, quartered, burned, and had their ashes scattered out in the middle of the Atlantic so that no part of their design can never harm another eye again.

[As for the actual GT90 show car—and its rolling mockup—I suppose they should continue to exist if for no other reason than to remind Ford of just how badly they can screw up a really good idea. Just think of it as Ford’s Aztek. I'm sure they do…]

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