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Old 11th May 2003, 01:44 PM
Gservo Gservo is offline
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Ford Builds a Ferrari-Beater

An engineering team races to complete the rebirth of the legendary GT40. Goals: deliver it in an impossible 16 months—and send a signal that the company is firing on all cylinders again.

by Don Sherman
There's no smoking rubber or keening engines in evidence, but take one step inside the garage that the assembled automotive design geniuses have dubbed "the pits" and there's no doubt the green flag has long since been waved. Today's crisis: The dream team assembled to speed-engineer the most eagerly anticipated production-line street racer in Ford Motor Co.'s history can't quite figure out how to make the windows roll up and down. Designer Camillo Pardo hates sacrificing the flush surfaces he sculpted into the concept-car prototype, but customers who shell out six figures for the production model won't enjoy being hermetically sealed inside the cockpit. Pardo would also prefer to keep the deep, racy notch he's hewn into the door's surface below the side windows. Powertrain engineer Curt Hill is counting on that scoop to blast air to the 500-horsepower supercharged V-8 located just aft of the cockpit. And safety specialist Richard Jeryan needs a substantial beam inside each door to protect occupants during side-impact collisions.

After quietly studying the conundrum, design and launch manager Fred Goodnow proposes what he calls a creative compromise: "Section the window into two pieces, one fixed, one movable," he suggests. "Shift the lower edge of the window in a tad, put a compound curve in the glass, kink the door scoop and skew the guide channels so the glass drops on a spiral path to clear the impact beam." In other words, juggle the pieces to fit without interfering with a window that rolls down enough for more than adequate ventilation and comfort. The engineers run the idea through a digital model of the car stored in a CAD/CAM system: It just might work. Pardo agrees to a slight redesign while performance development engineer Kent Harrison reminds himself to recheck airflow during the next wind tunnel session. Another vital decision has been made on the run, and the team moves on to the next pressing issue.

These engineers didn't have the luxury to deliberate. As soon as Ford chairman William Clay "Bill" Ford Jr. gave the go-ahead, the team was set up in a low-slung, nondescript building in suburban Detroit, a stone's throw from the Rouge River—the same stream that flows past the Fair Lane estate Henry Ford built after making millions on the Model T. Bill Ford's stiff challenge: Design a 21st-century production-ready version of the GT40, one of the fastest and most successful racecars ever, and do it in a record-breaking 16 months.
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Old 14th May 2003, 10:13 PM
speculative speculative is offline
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Thanks for posting Gservo; I've seen pics of the concept - this one's gonna be sweet!

-spec
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Old 16th May 2003, 03:49 PM
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Firelord-OCHW Firelord-OCHW is offline
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Agreed the concept is simply amazing

Can't wait to see the finished article

Maybe this will bring back the fast bit of the blue oval rather than all the essex boys in the max powered escorts
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Old 16th May 2003, 10:17 PM
dodgygeeeza dodgygeeeza is offline
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Thumbs up

it would be nice to see it race at the Le-Mans 24hr again
been there twice so far, i'd certainly go again to see the new GT40 race there
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