Ford Motor (F) is taking applications to buy its $450,000 GT supercar, a project designed to boost the company's image as a builder of fast, pricey European-style racing machines.
GT is positioned to compete with the Lamborghini Aventador, McLaren 650S and Ferrari 458 Speciale. The Lamborghini Aventador starts at $397,500, the McLaren 650S is $265,500 and the Ferrari 458 Special costs about $298,000. While many consumers are interested in fuel economy and environmental impact, many hardcore automotive enthusiasts revel in the engineering prowess it takes to win races.
The low-slung mid-engine racer is powered by a specially tuned six-cylindered V6 Ecoboost (Fordspeak for turbocharged) engine that generates 600 horsepower. Aluminum, carbon fiber and other lightweight materials are used in its manufacture. GT was first shown at the 2015 North American International Auto Show in January.
Ford will build only about 500 of the cars over the next two years. Applicants are asked if they've ever owned a GT, if they're Ford suppliers, collectors, influencers, supporters of Ford-supported charities and other questions meant to qualify the eventual owners.
Ford franchisees in the U.S. and other countries will want one to attract potential customers to showrooms. Almost all of them will be disappointed.
"We want to put the car in the hands of people who are true brand ambassadors for Ford," Henry Ford III, a great-great-grandson of the founder, told Ars Technica. In other words, owners who will drive GTs to races, meetings of enthusiasts and other venues where the vehicle will attract attention -- as opposed to storing it a quiet, dry garage or to reselling it on eBay.
Applications for the car are available at FordGT.com. If you are selected, Ford's concierge service will be in touch, the company said.
The GT has a storied heritage, with 4,000 of the first generation of the car sold from 2004 to 2006. The current and first generation pay homage to Ford's GT40 racer of the 1960s, which shows up in the 1966 French film A Man and a Woman, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aimee.
In the movie, Trintignant portrays a race car driver. That was the year -- exactly 50 years ago -- that Ford finished 1-2-3 in the 24 Hours of LeMans race. This year, Ford is returning to the LeMans endurance test with a new GT racer, coordinated as part of promotional activities for the automaker.
"When the GT40 competed at Le Mans in the 1960s, Henry Ford II sought to prove Ford could beat endurance racing's most legendary manufacturers," said Bill Ford, Ford's executive chairman. "We are still extremely proud of having won this iconic race four times in a row, and that same spirit that drove the innovation behind the first Ford GT still drives us today."
"Ford remains focused on three priorities globally -- accelerating our One Ford plan, delivering product excellence with passion and driving innovation in every part of our business," said Mark Fields, Ford's president and CEO. "All three came together to create the new Ford GT. We also know from our rich history in motorsports that world-class competition is a great incubator for even further product innovation."