It had been rumored for months, and it had enthusiasts, myself included, drooling at the idea: the prospect that Ford (NYSE:F) would actually produce a supercar -- a real-life beast that would burn up the tracks and streets alike. But I was only cautiously optimistic that it would actually happen. Thankfully, I'm wrong a lot of the time, because Ford's new GT is real, and it looks absolutely mean.
Without further ado, here's a look at the slick new ride that was shown off at this week's NAIAS (Detroit Auto Show) that will go into production late next year, and what it means for Ford fans and investors across the United States.
A V6 Supercar, really?
Yes, really, a V6 Supercar is on its way. Before you get all judgmental on Ford's engine selection for its GT, consider that the ultra-high-performance car will house a new twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that will churn out 600 horses.
It's a proven winner, according to Ford, as the twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 raced vehicles to three wins in its first season on the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship last year. It also took the podium another seven times and logged over 15,000 racing miles.
While having all those horses under the hood is important, I believe Ford hit a home run with a design that reflects an iconic Blue Oval racing vehicle of old, yet was modernized enough to attract consumers and racing enthusiasts a decade after the original GT roamed the streets.
"The GT is the ultimate execution of an enthusiast supercar," said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, global product development, in a press release announcing the new vehicle. "GT includes innovations and technologies that can be applied broadly across Ford's future product portfolio -- another proof point that Ford continues raising the performance bar while ultimately improving vehicles for all of our customers."
It's all about business
Why bring the Ford GT back after a more than 10-year hiatus? Furthermore, why is Ford suddenly focused on performance vehicles, with its promise to deliver more than 12 new vehicles of this type by 2020? The answer can be boiled down to two factors: performance vehicle sales and enthusiast influence.
Global sales of high-performance vehicles are trending higher -- up 70% since 2009, according to Ford. That compares favorably to the roughly 55% increase in overall light-vehicle sales through the same time period.
However, Ford's focus on performance vehicles isn't all about sales -- don't expect the Ford GT to outsell any of the company's mainstream vehicles. Enthusiast influence is hard to measure but perhaps just as important. Performance vehicles are key to attracting an enthusiast crowd, who are typically loyal consumers, as well as key to influencing a younger audience. Both types of consumers are crucial to building a future bloodline of mainstream consumer sales in the U.S market. Ford has spent years studying Generation Z, the young successors to the millennials, and this could be one example of how the automaker plans to lure a new consumer in the near future.
For those of us who can't afford the likely very pricey Ford GT, there is a silver lining: Ford believes all of its customers will benefit from these performance vehicles, notably via the innovations that go into them. Don't be shocked to see the Ford GT's 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost engine find its way into a mainstream Mustang down the line, and that could just be one of many examples. As Ford pushes innovation and technology in performance vehicles, as well as in its mainstream vehicles, the automaker, its drivers, and investors alike should all benefit.