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After Ford Motor Company produces just 3,000 examples of the Ford GT supercar over a two-year run, the assembly line will be forced to shut down because the GT doesn't meet federal standards for 2007. What a shame to waste the engineering and innovation that has gone into producing the greatest performing Ford product in decades - perhaps ever.
Apparently, Ford thinks so, too. Rumor has it that the Dearborn, Michigan automaker is hard at work creating another sports car to take over as the brand's halo vehicle when the Ford GT is discontinued for 2007, using some of the GT's architecture and underpinnings while simultaneously invoking the memory of another classic sporting machine, the Shelby Cobra of the 1960s. A chunky concept car displaying early thoughts on this theme debuted at the 2004 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but word is that Ford executives wanted a more provocative, emotional look and sent it back to the drawing board.
The fruits of this labor were recently unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in Monterey, California, as the Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept. J Mays, Ford Motor Company group vice president of Global Design, admits that "the Ford Shelby Cobra concept was a small step in our plans for the Ford GT architecture and our relationship with Carroll Shelby, and the Ford Shelby GR-1 is a giant leap toward the future."
A sleek and muscular fastback design, the Ford Shelby GR-1 is a front-engined two-seater powered by a huge 6.4-liter V-10 engine that develops 605 horsepower at 6,750 rpm and 501 lb.-ft. of torque at 5,550 rpm, plenty to motivate an estimated 3,900-pound curb weight. All that thrust goes to the 345/35R19 rear wheels through a rear-mounted, six-speed manual transmission. We'd estimate that performance is on par with others in this class, with four-second zero-to-60 times on tap.
What are the chances that the Ford Shelby GR-1 will actually be available to consumers in 2007 or 2008? We'd say that this new Shelby, or something very close to it, will be offered to give Ford a true Corvette and Viper competitor, and we'd guess pricing would be closer to the Dodge than the Chevrolet.
After all, it would be a shame to let all the effort expended creating the Ford GT go to waste after just two years.
(Written by: Christian J. Wardlaw. Photos Courtesy of Ford Motor Company, published: 08/17/04)
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