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The Ford GT is absolutely sick with high-tech innovation and you need to know why

Jon Phillips | May 5, 2015
Forget about Teslas, Google cars and Apple cars. The 2017 Ford GT is a high-tech tour-de-force, and Ford does it all with a gasoline engine, lightweight materials and advanced aerodynamics.

ford gt ecoboost engine
JON PHILLIPS. This is what it looks like when you shrink-wrap carbon-fiber around a small-block engine. To some degree, the Ford GT looks halfway between a prototype sports car and a formula racer.

Frankly, 28 processors doesn't impress me. If you told me Ford's most advanced production vehicle had 280 processors, I'd shrug and walk away. But once you learn how Ford marries engine tech to aero tech to materials tech, and how all this technology depends on computer logic, the story gets more interesting.

Let's start with the engine. Where Porsche, Mclaren and Ferrari are exploring petrol/electric hybrids in their next-gen supercars, Ford opted for an all-gasoline twin-turbo V6. This decision isn't an appeal to the red-meat, muscle car leanings of various Ford fanatics. Rather, the V6 allows for a much smaller footprint, allowing Ford's engineers to "shrink-wrap" the GT's body around the engine, which in turn paves the way for unique aerodynamics--and thus faster cornering and even braking speeds.

"The package of the V6 EcoBoost really enabled the aerodynamics," said Raj Nair, Ford's CTO and VP of Global Product Development. "We're able to wrap so tightly around the small V6 block, place intercoolers out in front of the rear tires, and channel the air to the rear. It's allowing us breakthrough levels of very low drag and very high levels of downforce."

ford gt flying butress front
JON PHILLIPS. Air enters the channel beneath the flying buttress to eventually hit the Ford GT's active wing. It also feeds the intercooler built into the wheel haunches.

The whys and hows of flying buttresses
Check out the photos above and below. Notice how the bodywork fits so snugly to the engine bay. Note the wide channels beneath the flying buttresses, which connect the wheel wells to the rest of the body. The overall shape of the car provides for very low drag (making the GT a slippery object as it cuts through the air--great for sheer speed), but the twin channels also direct air pressure to the car's rear wing, which generates downforce, and thus greater tire adhesion.

Now, this is where some of the Ford GT's most interesting computer controls kick in. When the car is in its normal driving mode, the rear wing remains flat in its stowed position. But as driving speeds increase, the wing dynamically rises to its deployed position, increasing aerodynamic drag for straight-line stability, as well as increased grip in high-speed corners.

ford gt taillight
Here's the aero channel as seen through the back of the Ford GT. Note that you can clearly see daylight on the other side. 

 

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