The suspense started with an unexpected email invite to join Ford in Las Vegas. No details other than an invite video from Ford CEO Jim Farley proudly recounting Ford racing heritage and referencing a project ready to emerge after several years under wraps.
Another email teaser followed a day before the event. Speculation, imagination, and curiosity brought the small group of invited guests together in a darkened airport hangar. Speed Journal Principal Jeff Francis was on the guest list and attended in person. Ford luminaries including Bill Ford and Peter Brock mingled among the guests, a sign of the evening’s magnitude. Shiny pieces and parts on display only increased the intrigue. Ordinarily, a car manufacturer carefully unveils a new halo car to media before showing it to customers or the public, but Ford chose to unveil its special project directly to the Ford family. Farley stepped forward, welcomed the group, and rewarded them with a first look at the new Mustang GTD.
The GTD is a thinly disguised race car. It will be street legal but built by Multimatic and based on the GT3 race car that Ford and Ford Customers plan to race at Le Mans and other race tracks around the world in 2024.
In early 2022, Ford announced its intent to take the Mustang racing with a GT3 version. In June just before the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford unveiled its Mustang GT3. The racer is the product of a long partnership between Ford and Multimatic. The involvement of Multimatic is no coincidence. Multimatic has an amazing portfolio to its credit, including both the street and racing version of the Ford GT.
Multimatic founder Larry Holt shared a story by video at the Las Vegas event that “we were working with Ford Performance on a GT3 version of the new generation seven Mustang. We got 15% into the project and Jim Farley took one look and said we have to make a road version of that.”
The GTD is targeted directly at the Porsche 911 GT3 RS, Mercedes AMG Black and Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Ford considers itself to be an underdog taking on the best from Europe. Farley’s last words before moving the screens aside to reveal the GTD made the intent clear: “I always promise myself that I would push my team to do things unnatural in the name of doing something special. I care so deeply about this car. The car has been in my head for five decades. I want to see Porsche, I want to see Aston Martin, and I want to see Mercedes sweat.”
With that, the bright blue GTD assumed center stage, rotating slowly under the spotlight. Obvious visual elements like the enormous rear wing, sharp front splitter, and assorted vents and scoops made the racing connection clear.
Development drivers Joey Hand and Harry Tincknell shared features of the GTD while talking about its birth. The specifications that flowed from their overview were impressive – over 800 horsepower from the V-8 engine, carbon ceramic brakes, magnesium wheels, titanium exhaust, and an 8-speed dual clutch transaxle. The GTD is infused with carbon fiber to save weight, from bodywork to driveshaft.
The technology transfer from the race track to the road was most evident through trick features like the active aero. A drag reduction system will automatically adjust the angle of the rear wing to maximize downforce or minimize drag while adjusting the front of the car to maintain balance. Variable traction control will allow the driver to adjust to varying track conditions from the steering wheel – handy if the conditions are getting moist.
The GTD is not just a track-day special. It will be fully street legal. Ironically, the GTD is unhampered by racing regulations which means it will have more tech and tweaks than the race car in some places. Hand joked that his dream was to drive the GTD to Laguna Seca, win the race in the GT3 racecar, and drive the GTD to drop Tincknell off at the airport for his ride back home to England.
Farley said that invited guests at the launch event got a golden ticket – the opportunity to claim an allocation without having to go through an application process and hope for a build slot.
Fuller details on specifications, pricing, and timing will come in due course. For now, Ford is enjoying showing off the result of a small team working in the factory skunkworks to fashion decades of racing DNA into something special.