Markham, ON – The twin-turbocharged, 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine roared to life, accompanied by a loud ovation and a few hollers from the Multimatic employees surrounding the car at the company’s plant in Markham, Ontario.
Hundreds, perhaps thousands of similar engines get fired up in new cars every day but this one is special because it’s the 600-hp powerplant in the first production-built 2017 Ford GT halo supercar, built right here in Canada. Firing up the car was none other than Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer.
“For everyone involved in designing and developing this car, including all of our employees and suppliers, this is a moment to celebrate,” Nair stated. “This EcoBoost engine is now race proven, and the closest thing to a race car on the road today.”
The GT is race proven thanks to its accomplishments at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans where the Ford GT won the GTE Pro racing class, 50 years after its incredible sweep-of-the podium triumph in 1966. While not as dominant a victory as that earlier feat, it was an exceptional accomplishment for a car that started from a sketch only three years ago.
Ford has gotten very serious about its performance division which will see a host of new sporty cars by 2020, with the GT being the pinnacle of that success.
This is the third iteration of the Ford GT, which appeared first as a racing car in the '60s, to be followed decades later in '05 with its first run as a production model for the street. Those production models were electrifying and magical, but limited to just over 4,000 units over two years time.
Fast-forward to 2016 and availability of the new Ford GT will be even more restrictive with only 1,000 units scheduled to be produced globally over a span of four years, by Multimatic. One would think Ford is doing that to keep the GT out of too many hands, but the reality discussed by Nair comes down to the limitations in carbon fibre assembly capability.
That's where Multimatic comes in. It’s a well-established Canadian corporation that has an on-going relationship with Ford as a high-volume production partner of body parts for vehicles like the F-150 pickup and a racing partner with recent working on the Mustang GT4, as well as multiple other race cars over 25-plus years.
For Multimatic, building the Ford GT in its premises is a big step and challenge, as it primarily deals with manufacturing and engineering high-volume components. But it has also earned an enviable reputation designing and building one-off or very low-volume exotic or race cars –including the complete body structure for such exotics as the Aston Martin One 77.
Outside of its production parts relationship, which certainly holds some clout, Multimatic became the natural fit because of that experience with race cars and carbon fibre. It was precisely the perfect combination that Ford needed to build this lightweight supercar that's constructd with carbon fibre throughout.
For Multimatic, it was a golden opportunity that couldn't be passed up. More employees were hired, other projects had to be dropped. That's not to say it abandoned other parts of its business, but now its main focus became the GT, where 250 new versions with customized paint jobs will be built for 2017.
The 65,000 sq-ft complex will host a total of 85 workers separated into seven stations with a goal of building one GT a day. And that's no easy task with each GT using a total of 6,000 total parts.
Out of 6,500 applicants for purchase of the all-new Ford GT, which will cost approximately US $450,000, only 1,000 were lucky enough to receive a letter of approval, and some of those will still have to wait three-to-four years to receive their cars.
There will be some allocation to a few Canadians, but all we know right now is that the first car, which rolled off the line in a glossy black colour with orange piping, will go to William Clay Ford Jr., the great-grandson of Henry Ford and the current executive chairman of Ford Motor Company. The second will go to Mark Fields, the President and CEO. And there was a confirmation that Chip Ganassi, the CEO of Chip Ganassi Racing was in-line for one.
The Ford GT has always been a rare beauty, and that appears to be even more the case with this all-new version. With so many applicants willing to spend that much for one, Ford has truly done a remarkable job in constructing its halo car. By the sight of the first one rolling off the line, one thing's for sure – Ford has succeeded in lifting its performance division to new heights, well ahead of 2020.