James Kerr / Winnipeg Free Press
Richard L’Abbe shows off the highly sought after Ford GT.
The 2017 Ford GT is being delivered to owners and this supercar — although Ford doesn’t call it that — is all it has been touted to be and more. Enthusiasts around the world have been following the Ford GT since the surprise introduction of a show car at the 2015 North American Auto Show in Detroit.
Designed in the basement of Ford’s Detroit Design Centre as a well kept secret, the GT has a strong Canadian connection. The Ford GT was designed as both a race car and a road car. The development and testing of the race car was performed on the racetrack at Calabogie Motorsports Park near Ottawa by MultiMatic, a Canadian Company based in Toronto but with worldwide holdings. MultiMatic is also building the road versions of the Ford GT on its dedicated assembly line in Markham, Ont., and only 1,000 of these cars will go to selected buyers over the next four years.
To own a Ford GT, it takes some financial means, with a starting price tag in the mid-US$400,000 range, but it takes a lot more than just money to get one of these cars. Prospective buyers had to apply to purchase one and part of the application process included personal information on community and charity involvement, public profile and the reasons why you wanted to purchase the vehicle.
One of the Canadian owners, Richard L’Abbe, an entrepreneur and racing enthusiast from Ottawa, couldn’t be a better choice.
L’Abbe is a soft spoken, modest and enthusiastic owner with many accomplishments. He is a partner of Calabogie Motorsports Park, a co-founder and former president and CEO of Med-Eng Systems Inc., an international leader in explosive ordinance disposal equipment, a member of University of Ottawa Faculty of Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation Endowment Fund advisory committee, which encourages entrepreneurship among budding engineers and creator of the Richard L’Abbe Makerspace at the University of Ottawa — a unique invent-build-play space that fosters innovative creativity among students, faculty and the public. He also is a talented race driver and admires the GT for the technology in this remarkable car.
L’Abbe showed us some of that technology with a ride in the GT around the Calabogie track. Starting the car, the 3.5 litre Ecoboost V-6 has a wonderful exhaust note, subdued but compelling. Ground clearance is 120 mm but switch into track mode (one of five modes that modify electronic, mechanical and aerodynamic settings) and the GT instantly drops 50 mm and the rear wing pops up from the body about 200 mm for increased downforce. For street use, there is also a high setting that increases ground clearance by 50 mm from Normal ride height to clear driveway or roadway irregularities.
The suspension, designed and built by MultiMatic utilizes both torsion bars and coil springs, operated by a hydraulic actuator and damped by their electronically adjustable DSSV (Dynamic Suspensions Spool Valve) dampers. In Normal mode, the suspension is sprung by both the torsion bar and coil springs in series.
This provides a smooth and comfortable ride, especially when combined with the superior damping of the DSSV shock absorbers. When in Track mode, a hydraulic actuator compresses the coil spring, lowering the car and springing the car only with the torsion bar for a firmer spring rate. In High mode, the hydraulic actuator releases both coil springs so they add to the spring force of the torsion bar and raise the car to its maximum height.
The DSSV damper design has been used by Formula 1 cars and other extreme performance cars.
Using dual spool valves instead of spring-loaded flapper or disc valves, the shock absorbers provide smoother and more accurate damping with less heat build up in the shock fluid for consistent damping. The electronic adjustablity of the damping on the Ford GT adds even more versatility.
The rear wing module deploys in Normal mode at 144 km/h for increased stability and is always raised in Track mode. During braking, the wing will tip dramatically to increase rear wheel downforce so the handling remains balanced while braking.
On the lower side of the wing, two flaps can raise to expose the “Gurney” lip (named for renowned race driver Dan Gurney) , a small lip that raises from the rear of the wing to change the wing profile for more downforce.
This only touches on the technology designed into the 2017 Ford GT, technology that will be passed onto other Ford products.
Beautiful to look at, the Ford GT really is a supercar that is capable of use every day on the street.