Ford GT and Ford Mustang GT: A celebration of performance

One’s a race car that wears almost no disguise. The other is an American icon.

They’re both Fords, and they’re both GTs. But as you might guess, there’s just a little bit of a difference between the Ford GT supercar and the Ford Mustang GT.

We traveled to California to take both for a back-to-back thrill ride.

2018 Ford GT

2018 Ford GT

A race car reborn

Let’s take a way-back trip with the Ford GT first. The GT—namely the GT40—roared out of Carroll Shelby’s skunkworks and claimed the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans podium (Eds note: All of it) and raced into folklore. The Shelby-engineered cars finished 1-2-3 and drubbed Ferrari.

Ford revived the GT briefly in 2004 with a retro-styled, mid-engine supercar. In 2016, the Blue Oval did it again with a mid-engine demon built with racing and the 50th anniversary of that 1-2-3 finish in mind.

The current GT sports supercar and race car credentials inside and out. It’s built around a carbon-fiber tub. Most of the body panels are carbon fiber, too. The jet-inspired body has active aerodynamics in front and in back. That rear wing raises and lowers, and it helps the car stop when it becomes an airbrake.

ALSO SEE: 2019 Ford GT adds lightweight Carbon Series, gets $50,000 price bump

2018 Ford GT

2018 Ford GT

Ford stuffs a twin-turbo 3.5-liter V-6 behind the driver. It’s worth 647 horsepower and 550 pound-feet of torque, but it doesn’t make the most alluring sounds. It wails, it huffs, it drones. It also shreds tire treads, dispatches 0-60 mph runs in less than three seconds, and rockets the GT to a top speed of 216 mph.

A touch of turbo lag caused by huge turbos prevents the GT from roasting its tires from a stop. Flip it into Sport or Track mode, and it kicks in a race-bred anti-lag system that keeps the turbos spinning even when the driver is off the throttle. That creates a right-now reactions from the throttle pedal once underway, and the car eats vast swaths of pavement in precious little time.

Thrilling acceleration meets unbelievably flat handling in the GT, and the car reacts to driver inputs with a suddenness you won’t find even in other supercars. Its inboard suspension gets adjustable dampers and a dual-spring setup at each corner to give it a taut ride. A Comfort setting in the Normal mode makes it a tad more livable, but this is no Sunday cruiser.

CHECK OUT: Ford GT production extended to 1,350 cars through 2022

2018 Ford GT

2018 Ford GT

Flip it to Track, and that suddenness shows its face again. Hydraulics lower the GT 2.0 inches to just 2.75 inches off the ground, and it happens in the blink of an eye with a “pshhht” sound. It’s based on a race car, after all, when there isn’t time to wait for the slow air suspensions or even hydraulic systems of most other luxury cars or supercars.

Now the handling is even more precise. The GT darts from apex to apex. Not only does it corner flat, that low ride height barely allows any lean. The old-school hydraulic steering provides welcome feedback as it works with the huge tires to generate more grip than any driver can use up on public roads—unless that road happens to be the Nürburgring.

The GT is a special car that feels special from behind the wheel, and it begs to be driven fast and hard. To haul it down from the speeds it was built to achieve, Ford outfits it with massive carbon ceramic brakes that, again, feel sudden. The brake pedal is high and braking power is stunning, aided at high speeds by that rear airbrake.

It may feel special, but the GT’s interior is less luxury and more race-car spartan. In fact, it has almost no space, and driver comfort is not a priority.

DON'T MISS: Ford GT and Mercedes-AMG GT use same gearbox, Ford's costs much more

2018 Ford GT

2018 Ford GT

The driver’s seat offers just two adjustments; the seatback tilts forward and back. To tailor a practical driving position, the pedal box moves in and out and the steering column tilts and telescopes. It works and the seat is supportive for performance driving, but it’s not all-day comfortable.

The rest of the cockpit is just as purpose-built. Open the doors and the carbon-fiber tub can be plainly seen; Ford doesn’t bother covering it to pretty things up. Ford also installs very little sound deadener, so the drone of the engine and the tires on pavement are constant companions. While the dash is wrapped, plenty of low-rent plastics show their plain faces. And total interior storage amounts to a glove-sized glove box that sits at the base of the driver’s seat.

The only nod to modern convenience is the standard Sync 3 touchscreen infotainment system, complete with Bluetooth, navigation, and access to apps.

Loud, impractical, and impossible to live with every day, the Ford GT also has the race-car goods to make for a once-in-a-lifetime drive.

Follow Us

Take Us With You!


© 2019 MH Sub I, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Stock photography by izmostock. Read our Cookie Policy.