A Rant on Why the 2017 Ford GT Is Not a New GT40

Ford GT (40) generations 1 photo
Photo: Ford
I didn’t expect to have a rant about the 2017 Ford GT, especially not with prototypes still being tested as part of the final development process. Then again, I don’t need to wait until the supercar is launched to ask why they didn’t call it the 2017 Ford GT40.
That would’ve been the right thing to do. It would’ve provided a much more direct reminder of the time when Henry Ford told Enzo Ferrari to shove it. You know, the era when the original GT40 racecar trampled all over the Prancing Horse at Le Mans for four years in a row (between 1966 and 1969).

One might point out that the reason the new GT is missing a 40 at the end of its badge lies with the supercar’s predecessor, the 2000s Ford GT. But that only brings us closer to the source of the problem.

Ford keeps forcing the “GT” moniker instead of giving us new GT40 incarnations because the Blue Oval lost that name on the way. That’s right. Ford no longer owns the GT40 trademark.

This currently belongs to a South African company called Hi-Tech Automotive - you might know them thanks to their unusual bouquet of models, most of which are exported to the US and the UK.

While Superformance, its main distributor in the US, builds third-gen 427 Shelby Cobra replicas and even a GT40 Continuation Series, these people also make the Perana Z-One, a modern-day supercar of which only ten units are rumored to have been built.

The GT40 badge has actually been lost for decades. It all has to do with Safir Engineering, a British company that used to build GT40 Continuation models back in the 80s. The nice gentlemen who own it asked Ford to pay them 7.5 percent of each GT40 that would’ve been sold after the Blue Oval aimed to revive its hero in the early 2000s.

The scheme was inspired by the deal that sees Ford paying a similar percentage of the cost of its branded merchandise to Beanstalk, a company previously owned by the carmaker, which licenses the Blue Oval for Ford.

To put things shortly, Ford would’ve had to pay $40 million to use the GT40 name and they decided to go without it.

The move was part of what had become a cost-cutting tradition at Ford. That’s what had led the carmaker to build the otherwise stunning 1995 GT90 concept on a Jaguar XJ220 base. The same can be said about the ill-fated GT70, a racecar built by Ford’s British arm back in 1970, but one that got replaced by an... Escort, be it a rallying one.

Imagine Ford winding down production of the new GT after some years and replacing it with a rallying incarnation of a Focus RS.

It’s all good, though. Even without its full name, the new GT (no, not the Mercedes-AMG GT) will also compete in endurance racing next year. And while the racecar will once again take on Ferrari (and its new 488 racer), despite the two fighting way below the LMP1 class, the road-going 2017 GT has been seen by enthusiasts as more of a Lamborghini Aventador rival.

And I can only be on my toes, waiting for a $370k Ford that will rival a Lamborghini that’s so brutish in the relationship to its driver. What a time to be behind the wheel!

Yes, I know, many of you were familiar with the story of the Gt40 nameplate, but I wanted a nice introduction for the video below, which teases the 2017 GT's appearance in the upcoming episode of Jay Leno's Garage. So, without further ado, here's the footage.

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About the author: Andrei Tutu
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In his quest to bring you the most impressive automotive creations, Andrei relies on learning as a superpower. There's quite a bit of room in the garage that is this aficionado's heart, so factory-condition classics and widebody contraptions with turbos poking through the hood can peacefully coexist.
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