Heavy Metal Affliction - 2017 Ford GT
It has been a long time coming, but the Turn 10 Ford GT has arrived home this week. If you think you have been waiting patiently, perhaps even longingly, that anticipation is nothing compared to what the car’s proud owner has been dealing with. Turn 10 Studio Director Alan Hartman has been waiting with baited breath these long nine months for what is unquestionably his dream car.
You may remember back in January when Hartman received a mysterious package from Ford. We shared the unboxing of what turned out to be a build package order kit. Within the carbon fiber box were samples of all the different Ford GT interior and exterior colors and materials the future owner could choose from. Thankfully, he decided to include the Forza community in the decision making process. The next step, as he said in the unboxing video, was to “giggle all day.” A couple weeks later came the conference call with the Ford Performance concierge to discuss those options in more detail.
You could say the delivery of the Turn 10 Ford GT is the culmination of a life loving cars that all started with his first car, a Ford Maverick. “First off, I’m a gamer who loves cars,” Hartman said of his history with cars. As his career in gaming grew, one that started with kicking off Dreamworks Interactive, so has the quality of cars he has owned. There is his 1959 MGA which he has owned since the 1990s and the Audi RS4 complete with added supercharger. Then there’s an Aston Martin DBS – a car that is “like living with a super model,” Hartman said – as well as his daily driver, a stunning, and tastefully appointed, blue 2016 Audi R8 V10+.
Ever since the Ford GT was announced as the cover car for Forza Motorsport 6, there has been a growing group of Ford Performance cars in the Turn 10 lot. There’s Creative Director Dan Greenawalt’s Mustang GT350R, two Ford Focus RS models owned by Vehicle Design Director Gabe Garcia and Senior Software Engineer Brian Phagan, a Ford Raptor belonging to our Content Director John Wendl, and several other special Ford models owned by Turn 10 staff. Earlier this year, I even got bit by the Ford bug and bought a 2016 Ford Fiesta ST. At the time I called it the “Ford effect,” but the truth is, we all just found cars (and trucks) we had to have.
Bickford Ford, is the dealer Hartman chose to conduct the Ford GT purchase process with. Bickford Service Manager Kevin Jamison said, “I think that the fact that Ford has stepped outside the box of just making a car and focused on building great performing cars and trucks of all kinds has really gotten people's attention.”
To accept that sale, Bickford had to commit to a special list of responsibilities, not the least of which was acquiring a custom trailer that could accommodate the Ford GT’s wing doors and low ride height. The dealership had to have a Senior Master Tech specially trained on the car. They even have a designated stall with a flush mounted rack at the dealership for the Turn 10 Ford GT. Then there is the special tire machine, and the special Hunter alignment machine.
Do you get the theme here? This car is special. While that may seem obvious, just how special requires a little digging. You can find a ton of cool details in the third episode of our “Ford GT at Turn 10” video series, where Hartman and Garcia traveled to the Multimatic factory in Canada for a tour of the facility, where each GT is hand-built from more than 5,000 individual parts. Approximately 100 employees produce one car per day, and each car takes about nine days to build. The painting process alone is staggering, especially for the Heritage Edition that the Forza community and @Turn10_BigBoss chose.
“The community was equally taken by the Heritage Edition, with it being the overwhelming first choice,” Hartman said, “so I signed up.” Of the 1,000 total Ford GT models, just 250 of them will be Heritage Editions (Hartman’s car is #79, if you’re keeping score at home). The interior is mostly leather, the gold wheels and accents and the bold number “2” on the hood and doors harken back to the original Le Mans-winning Ford GT. That #2 is woven into the carbon fiber door panels as well. Not only is the Heritage Edition the most unique model, it speaks directly to the 50-year anniversary of Ford’s win at Le Mans which they of course celebrated by winning again with the new model during the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Project Phoenix,” as the Ford GT was referred to when it was in development (both at Ford and within the walls of Turn 10), literally rose from the ashes of an attempt to homologate the Ford Mustang to race at Le Mans. When Ford brought the four new GT’s to race at Le Mans in 2016 the expectations were high. Anyone will tell you that jumping into the highest level of sports car racing and winning right away is not an easy feat. Despite the steep learning curve, the GTs took first, third and fourth, with rival Ferrari taking second.
The arrival of the Turn 10 Ford GT is the culmination of months of planning, patience, and pure excitement. It did not disappoint. “Nothing tops watching and hearing the GT light up for the first time when it was being driven off the truck,” Forza Community Manager Brian Ekberg said. Ekberg was one of the first to be let in on the big secret and led us all through the process in the video series. His first impressions pretty much sum up the awe we all felt as the car arrived:
“It’s mean! Like, it sounds actually angry. I vividly remember seeing the car when it was fired up for the first time while still in the delivery truck. Watching smoke emit from the dual rear exhaust, the brake lights glowing a fiery red, and of course that burbling engine growl; it was like a dragon just waiting to emerge from its cave.”
How does Hartman feel about the car now that he has actually driven it? “The logical side of the brain thinks about the investment,” Hartman said. “But honestly the logical side of my brain hasn’t had a chance to say anything over the last couple days. It is all emotion.”
Stay tuned, to see and hear the Turn 10 Ford GT being driven in our next video.