Just off a hall in Ford’s Product Development Center (PDC) in Dearborn, Michigan is a plain steel door with a sign reading “Caution: Motorized Vehicle Traffic Area” that leads to the basement. In that basement, at the end of a corridor lined with storage shelves and drums with “oily rags” scrawled on them, is a room formerly used to house large styrofoam blocks for modeling cars. For the past year-and-a-half, though, it’s instead been home to the 2017 Ford GT supercar.
On May 11 and 12, the days Ford’s decided to give select media a sneak peek into the GT’s development, there’re three full-scale foam models of the car parked inside it, a clay model wrapped in shiny red vinyl with white rally stripes, and a pair of smaller-scale models, too, including one featuring some details that look a little different – better – than the production GT’s—an air extractor vent behind the front wheel, and taillights shaped vaguely like those of the old Shelby GR-1 prototype.
Behind the models is an ideation board with titles like “modern seduction” and “performance efficiency” on it, and images of cars like the LaFerrari, Glickenhaus SCG-003S, and 2005 Maserati Birdcage 75th Concept beneath them. To the right are some sketches of that aforementioned model, signed “Bonathan14” – newly-hired Ford designer Colin Bonathan – as well as ones that look a lot more like the production GT, signed “Giancarlo,” for senior designer Giancarlo Viganego.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve always been fascinated by these sorts of sketches, by the automotive design process, about the cars that might have been. In this basement are cars that to me look just as good as, if not better, than the production GT, and they make you (me) wonder how certain features, certain design elements won out over the others to find their way onto the final car.
The GT is sort of an anomaly in that, as opposed to most cars nowadays, which are reviewed by in-company peers at studios around the globe, then gone over by market research and focus groups, etc., it was just a handful of designers that had final input into this thing. With such a small team, “you don’t actually get to bounce opinions off people,” v-p Ford global design Moray Callum told Automotive News. “We were on tenterhooks ourselves until the first people saw it.”
Anyway, we’ve included here some of the sketches Ford’s allowed us to share with you from the earliest stages of the GT’s design. If you’re curious, too, about how they pulled off this whole thing in secret, head over to Autofocus.ca. Turns out keeping the GT under wraps was easier than you’d think.