Few races capture the imagination of car fans like the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and no car is more synonymous with Le Mans success like the Ford GT40—which famously placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in the 1966 edition of the race and would go on to win for the next four years.
In 2004, for the company’s centennial, Ford Motor brought out the Ford GT, an homage to the GT40, with a 5.4 liter supercharged V8 and a $150,000 price tag. But it wasn’t a true track racer like its namesake. It had all of the style but very little of the racing credentials that made the GT40 iconic.
For 2017, 50 years after that famous Le Mans 1-2-3, Ford has put out a car worthy of the name and an even more exclusive price tag. Ford brought the GT to Brooklyn, N.Y. to give Fortune an up-close look at what makes it so special.
Under the hood, the GT is packing a 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 engine, which thanks to two turbochargers, puts out a whopping 647 horsepower—a testament to the efficiency found throughout the car.
The best example of this is the car’s rear buttress which acts as both an aerodynamic wing—guiding air around the carbon-fiber passenger cell—and ductwork for the car’s air-intake by channeling compressed air directly into the engine.
One of the biggest challenges with taking a track-ready car to the road is comfort. Racing drivers typically want a car’s suspension as taut and low as possible, which is fine when you’re driving at high speeds on perfectly manicured asphalt, but real world conditions are not so forgiving. To solve this problem, the GT comes with five driving modes which adapt the car’s suspension, active aerodynamics, traction control, and turbochargers to suit the conditions:
- Normal, for everyday driving
- Wet, for driving in the elements
- Sport, for more spirited ventures
- Track, for racing
- V-Max, for maximum straight-line speed
In Normal, Wet, and Sport modes the car’s suspension is set to high and the car’s rear wing deploys only at high speed. In Track mode, the car hunkers down on the road by 50mm, and the rear wing fully deploys for maximum downforce. But it’s the V-Max mode that will have gearheads drooling. In this mode, the car maintains its track suspension height but doesn’t deploy the rear wing allowing for maximum velocity (hence the name) of 216 mph—besting the 2004 GT by 11 mph making it the fastest Ford ever.
Ford is only producing 1,000 of the GT—250 per year until 2020—and at a starting price approaching $400,000 they are positioned in the supercar market right alongside Lamborghini and McLaren. If you want to get one, we’d suggest making friends with a Ford dealer now.