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Concept

TG's guide to concepts: the Ford GT90

Who remembers the V12, quad-turbo brute that could apparently out-drag a McLaren F1?

  • Some of you will remember the Ford GT90 from its debut at the 1995 Detroit Motor Show. Others will remember it from one of the many, many video games it’s featured in. But most, sadly, won’t remember it at all. In the Ford GT history files, the GT90 is a habitually forgotten oddity. One that made quite a splash when it was unveiled, but like all concepts not destined for full-scale production, soon faded into abject obscurity.

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  • That’s a shame because even some 22 years after we first saw it, the GT90 remains an astonishing looking, very intriguing thing. One that could be unveiled at next month’s Geneva Motor Show, and live quite happily among the hoards of other low-slung hypercars vying for our attention. We're fans. Big fans.  

    It’s a mid-engined two-seater in the mould of the original GT40s it was built to honour, with a quad-turbocharged 6.0-litre V12 making an estimated 720hp and 660lb ft. Ford estimated 0-60mph in three seconds flat, and a top speed somewhere north of 230mph. Even today, these are silly numbers.

  • The GT90 took six months and an estimated $3 million to build. Parts like the five-speed manual gearbox and double-wishbone suspension were borrowed from the Jaguar XJ220 (Ford owned Jaguar back then, remember), and it was based on a lengthened version of that car’s aluminium monocoque chassis.

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  • To make the 90-degree V12 engine, engineers essentially took two Lincoln V8s, lopped-off a pair of cylinders from each and spliced the ensuing blocks together. It was built originally to see how far engineers could push Ford’s modular engine concept. Period reports suggest it produced 400hp without any kind of turbo- or supercharging and was first demonstrated in a Lincoln Town Car. For the GT90, four Garrett T2 turbochargers were added.

  • Unusually for a concept, the GT90 did actually work – kind of – although as far as we can tell, Ford never allowed the engine to be turned right the way up for fear of overstressing some of the flimsier, show-car spec’ components…

  • Like the whole body. The GT90 was the first time we’d seen Ford’s ‘New Edge’ design philosophy (long since dispensed with), which manifested itself in cars like the MK1 Ka, Focus, Puma and Cougar in the late Nineties and early-Noughties. The GT90’s body panels were carbon fibre, it had a laminated glass dome to cover the occupants rather than a conventional roof, and a spoiler than would raise at ‘high-speed’ (we're especially fond of the knock-off wheels, and the way the doors eat into the canpoy à la GT40).

    Oh, and its interior was finished in bright-blue leather – because Nineties.

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