Ford added the latest chapter to its marvelous racing history in 2016, when the second-generation GT scored a victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 60th anniversary of the company’s first win there in 1966. The win recalled the dominating drive by Ken Miles in the No. 1 GT40 MkII that ended in a dead heat and robbed the talented English expatriate of a sure Triple Crown in that year’s FIA Manufacturers Championship after outright wins at Daytona and Sebring. To honor the spirited Miles—who was also Carroll Shelby’s close friend, Shelby American’s Competition Director and a supremely gifted driver/engineer—this 2020 Ford GT MkII, one of just 45 slated for production, exists as the only one finished in the livery worn by Miles’ legendary Le Mans racer. And with just 15 miles on the odometer, it is virtually brand new.
Resurrecting the name of a historically momentous race car is a serious business for any automobile manufacturer, especially when the inspiration is the very car that knocked Ferrari off the throne it had occupied for years in dominating the 24 Hours of Le Mans. That car, of course, was the legendary Ford GT40 MkII, three of which rolled across the finish line in formation to complete a controversial dead-heat sweep of the 1966 French endurance classic. The MkII’s 1966 victory began a four-year consecutive overall win record for the GT40 that broke Ferrari’s stranglehold on Le Mans once and for all, to this very day. That’s a tough act to follow, but 40 years later Ford revived the concept with the brilliantly designed and executed 2005-06 GT that paid its respects to the original with blistering performance born of sophisticated technology and brute power.
A decade later, Ford returned to the well to produce its latest and greatest GT, a car designed first and foremost to win the LM GTE-Pro class in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. The all-new GT fulfilled its mission when Chip Ganassi Racing’s entries took four of the top 10 spots, including first and third places. Of course, homologation rules requiring a minimum number of street-legal cars resulted in the most advanced road-going Ford ever in the form of the third-generation GT. But Ford and its partners at Multimatic, the Oshawa, Ontario, advanced engineering firm that manufactures the GT, were not finished. At the 2019 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the two companies revealed the limited-edition GT MkII—the most advanced and exclusive Ford Track Car in the company’s 118-year history.
Unencumbered by road or racing rules, regulations and limitations of any kind, Ford and Multimatic unleashed the full performance potential of the GT, already a supercar by any definition and loaded with advanced racing technology from the outset.
Like any great concept, the GT’s fundamentals remain intact: a hand-crafted carbon fiber chassis and body with integrated roll cage; F1-inspired wishbone suspension with pushrod-actuated shocks; carbon-ceramic disc brakes and the compact but powerful EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V-6 engine.
To begin the transformation to unbridled track monster, Multimatic shaved 200 pounds from the GT, most of it by dispensing with the adjustable ride height equipment and specifying its own five-way adjustable race-derived DSSV dampers with blow-off to eliminate harsh ride feel at high speeds. The MkII retains the GT’s 15.5-inch front and 14.1-inch rear Brembo carbon-ceramic brake rotors, but unique 19-inch Forgeline forged alloy wheels were paired with super-sticky Michelin Pilot Sport GT racing slicks.
FIA Le Mans regulations held the racing GTs V-6 to 500 HP, while the road version makes 647; with no government or sanctioning body rules to hold them back, Ford Performance power engineers extracted another 50 HP from the MkII version for a full 700 HP and even more torque than the GT’s 550 lb-ft. The GT’s superb Ricardo 7-speed transmission is replaced with a unique Getrag 8-speed dual-clutch unit for more flexibility in the widely varying track conditions the MkII will encounter.
Such prodigious power in a car weighing just 2,850 pounds requires every aerodynamic trick in the book to keep it under control at the speeds of which the MkII is capable and, once again, the absence of rules gave Ford and Multimatic engineers free reign to capitalize on their experience at the highest levels of motorsport. First, they dispensed with the road GT’s articulated rear wing—which flips up during high-speed braking to add extra stopping and stabilizing power—and replaced it with a massive fixed dual-element wing that adds 250 pounds more downforce than the wing used on the 2016 Le Mans-winning race GT and would be illegal in any sanctioned racing series. Louvered carbon-fiber vents in the front fenders decrease front-end lift in concert with a huge front splitter developed for the Le Mans racer but that also proved illegal. The full Le Mans rear diffuser, a redesigned floor pan and front dive planes also made their way to the MkII. With the ride height set at just 56mm, these modifications produce approximately 1,900 pounds of downforce, some 350 more than the Le Mans car. With the additional grip provided by the racing Michelins, the MkII is capable of generating well over 2 Gs of lateral acceleration.
For more efficient cooling, the MkII’s EcoBoost V-6 features a high-capacity air-to-air outboard-mounted charge air cooler with water spray technology and a roof-mounted air intake to feed the auxiliary engine, clutch and transmission coolers. The race-engineered cockpit is a driver’s Nirvana, offering a multifunction racing-style wheel, FIA-compliant roll cage, Sparco driver and optional passenger seats with six-point harnesses, a refrigerant system for the driver’s suit and a MoTeC data acquisition unit that doubles as a monitor for the rear-view camera.
With production limited to just 45 examples over a three-year period, the Ford GT MkII is already one of the most exclusive automobiles in the world, one that, in Ford’s words, “unleashes the full performance potential of the Ford GT without any artificial performance limitations dictated by racing sanctioning bodies … It’s the closest GT owners can get to the Le Mans-winning performance and exhilarating feeling of crossing the finish line in the Ford GT race car.”