This Insane Beast is the New Ford GT

All-NewFordGT_01_HR

Source: Ford

We had an inkling that Ford was getting set to make a big push into the performance vehicle segment, but it’s unclear if anyone really expected news this big.

While the Detroit Auto Show has the auto world abuzz with the latest announcement from the world’s top car manufacturers, the announcement that a new Ford GT is slated to hit production seems to be stealing the show in its first official media day. There’s good reason for that, as the GT — which has been out of production for nearly a decade — may just usher in an entirely new era for Ford, which has fully-entrenched itself as one of the world’s leading producers of consumer-grade cars, trucks, and SUVs.

As for the details, the new GT is slated to come equipped with the most powerful EcoBoost engine Ford has ever produced. A twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine is expected to produce more than 600 horsepower, which puts the new GT in the arena with the Ferrari 458, Corvette Z06, and the Lamborghini Aventador.

“As we at Ford drive innovation into every part of our business, it’s worth remembering that our first innovation as a company was not in a laboratory, but on the racetrack,” said Mark Fields, Ford’s president and CEO, in reference to Henry Ford’s 1901 car race win that helped garner investment in the then-newborn company. “We are passionate about innovation through performance and creating vehicles that make people’s hearts pound.”

So, perhaps most importantly, when can you expect to see it hit the streets? Ford says production will begin next year, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the original GT hitting the track in Le Mans in 1966.

All-NewFordGT_06_HR

Source: Ford

There is plenty that makes the new GT’s arrival both enticing and significant, and we can start by turning the clock back a bit and digging into the car’s history. The original GT — the GT40 — was built in the 1960s as a part of the Ford Advanced Vehicles wing, along with Shelby American and other specialists. During that time, only around 100 were actually produced, making it one of the rarest cars on the planet.

It wasn’t until decades later that the GT was finally resurrected in 2005. Again, the car was extremely limited in availability, with only around 4,000 rolling out of Ford’s factory. Since then, there have only been rumors of a new GT bubbling up here and there, and a lot of wishful thinking on behalf of car buffs. However, with this most recent announcement, it looks as though Ford has rediscovered its love for racing by focusing on performance vehicles that’s been lacking in the past.

“The GT is the ultimate execution of an enthusiast supercar,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “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.”

There are a couple of underlying questions regarding the new GT’s unveiling. For example, why is Ford deciding to pull the trigger on the GT project now? And what exactly makes this news so significant?

The first question seems to have been answered previously for us. We already know that Ford has decided to go after the performance market in a serious way, with as many as 12 new models planned between now and 2020. Obviously, the GT is a vehicle that fits that bill, and already has an established history and fan base. Why not capitalize on that, and put it back out on the market?

As for what makes the GT’s announcement significant? That answer is a bit more complex.

All-NewFordGT_03_HR

Source: Ford

While Ford continues to pump out its best-sellers like the F-150 pickup, the GT is obviously a much different vehicle than anything else in the company’s lineup. While the Mustang has always been thought of as Ford’s go-to vehicle in terms of power, speed, and overall performance, the GT is set to overtake it. Of course, the Mustang is a pony car, and the GT is a supercar destined to go up against the best the world has to offer.

As for what exactly the GT is up against, one vehicle that immediately springs to mind is the new Lamborghini Asterion. While we don’t often think of Ford competing with Lamborghini, it’s hard not to see the styling similarities — though maybe it’s the blue paint. The very fact that we’re using Ford and Lamborghini in the same sentence should tell you something about how seriously Ford is taking its performance vehicles.

The GT could also easily be compared to models from other supercar makers like Ferrari. But perhaps what really helped Ford brass ultimately decide was seeing that other car manufacturers are also gearing up to hit the high-end supercar market — like Acura with the new NSX, or even the newest Corvette Z06 from Chevrolet, which has been causing quite a stir with its uptick in performance capabilities. On paper, the GT should stack up well against both, but we’ll have to wait until they’re all on the track to find out for sure.

We can also see how the GT might stack up to some of the world’s real supercars. The McLaren 650S, for example, produces 650 horsepower, and can reach a top speed of 207 miles per hour. Lamborghini’s Aventador makes 700 horsepower, and can reach 217 miles per hour. The new Z06: 650 horsepower, and a top speed over 200 miles per hour. While we don’t know what the GT’s performance stats are at this point, it’s probably fair to say it can at least crawl into the conversation as one of the contenders in this bracket.

The company has already committed to the performance market for the next five to 10 years at least, so they probably aren’t simply dipping their toes in the water with the GT’s unveiling. What could happen is the ushering in of a whole new era in the performance and supercar segment. While it’s mostly been relegated to high-end luxury companies, Chevrolet, Ford and others are now seeing their opportunity. And it could result in some incredibly fast and powerful cars coming to market for prices far less than we’re used to.

More from Autos Cheat Sheet: