• Dec 18th 2009 at 10:30AM
  • 42

1995 Ford GT90 Concept - Click above for high-res image gallery

If Ford first introduced the GT90 Concept at the 2010 Detroit Auto Show next month, we would probably consider it one of the coolest cars on the show floor. Incredibly, Ford unveiled the GT90 nearly 15 years ago. Even by today's standards it is a supercar of supercars. The quad-turbocharged 6.0-liter V12 puts out an estimated 720 horsepower, the body is constructed completely of carbon fiber and top speed is somewhere in the 250 mph range. The only hints that it's not a modern supercar are the all-blue interior and wheels that are decidedly not from this decade.

So why are we talking about the GT90 Concept now? RM Auctions has just announced that it will be offering the car at its Arizona sale. That's right, this is your chance to own one of the coolest concept vehicles of all time. This is the first time that the GT90 Concept has ever been publicly for sale at auction, and RM claims that it is in "excellent running condition, having been properly stored and maintained over the year." No estimated price is given, but we're guessing it will take a significant chunk of change to take the car home. Hit the jump for a detailed description and history of the GT90 Concept, or adorn your desktop with 1990s supercar glory using one of the photos in the high-res gallery below.

[Source: RM Auctions]


Est. 720 bhp, 6.0 liter quad-turbocharged mid-engine V12, five-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel independent suspension, and four wheel ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 116"

The one-off GT90 Concept Car, labeled immediately as "the world's mightiest supercar" by Ford Motor Company on December 6, 1994, was the spiritual successor to the Ford GT40, the product of a colossal feud in the early 1960s between the Blue Oval from Dearborn and the Prancing Horse of Northern Italy. The GT90 draws from the design cues of its heritage and pays homage to the famed Le Mans-winning Ford GT40s of the 1960s, which were created after the failed attempt by Ford to buy out Ferrari.

GT40 Heritage

The failed acquisition of Ferrari only strengthened Henry Ford II's resolve to beat Ferrari, and he therefore decided to take on the Commendatore head-on in international sports car racing. There was very little interest in this form of racing in America at the time, but Ford was prepared to gamble that European wins, Le Mans in particular, would capture the country's imagination. He was right.

After the Ferrari debacle, Henry Ford II declared that he wanted to win Le Mans in 1966, and Ford's Lee Iacocca and Leo Beebe were given the job of forming Ford Advanced Vehicles. Instructed by Henry Ford II to spend whatever money necessary to develop a racing program that would beat Ferrari in the most public of ways, the team went to work.

Ford's idea was to develop a car that could be built around the 1963 Indianapolis 4.2-liter pushrod engine. The mid-engined coupe that the company had in mind was to be the very cutting edge of modern GT car design with careful attention paid to aerodynamics. Ford realized that many of their plans were echoed in the Lola GT, designed and built by Eric Broadly at his workshop at Bromley in England. Broadly, too, had seen the potential of the Ford V8 as a GT racing engine and incorporated a stock 260 cubic inch version in his car, first exhibited at the London Racing Car Show in January 1963. As it happened, the Lola GT was 40 inches high. The Ford GT would also be this height, and it is for this reason that the car was christened the GT40.

The first two prototype Ford GT40s were launched in April 1964, and the GT40's first race was the 1,000 kilometer at the Nürburgring on May 31. Phil Hill qualified the blue and white coupe second to John Surtees's Ferrari 275P, and although the car retired with a broken suspension bracket, the GT40 had shown its potential.

In 1965, when the project was handed over to the Shelby-American team of Cobra fame, a total of ten cars had been built. By the end of February 1965, a number of significant changes had been made to the car under the direction of Carroll Shelby, his chief engineer Phil Remington, and Ken Miles, Shelby's test driver. The 4.2-liter dry sump Indianapolis engine was replaced with the famous wet sump 4.7-liter, 289 cubic inch V8 that powered Shelby's Cobras and developed 385 brake horsepower.

The first race the re-worked car was entered in was the 2,000 kilometer Daytona Continental Race on February 28, 1965. The car, driven by Lloyd Ruby and Ken Miles, won the race with Bob Bondurant and Richie Ginther in a second car finishing third. Suddenly, the GT40 was on the map and a force to be reckoned with.

With the GT40 now fully developed, Roy Lunn was given the job of overseeing production of a Mark II version of the car. Work on two new cars began in the spring of 1965 at a new Ford racing subsidiary, Kar Kraft, in Detroit. The GT40 Mark II was fitted with Ford's mighty 7.0-liter V8. The engine had tremendous torque and a wide power band and had been very successful racing in other formats. The Mark IIs were immediately quick, finishing first, second and third in the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour race; this was followed by victory at the 12 Hours of Sebring and the famous clean sweep at Le Mans, where Ford GT40s once again crossed the line first, second, and third. Ford's gamble had paid off, and the GT40 dominated sports car racing, as intended, making it one of the most successful road/competition cars ever built.

Development of the GT90

At a development cost in the neighborhood of $3 million, the GT90 was certainly worthy of pulling styling cues from the original Ford GTs, and although it was never meant for production, it was built according to a Ford press release as a "test bed for technology, engineering and design concepts, and driver-oriented features that eventually may be used in Ford production vehicles."

Officially unveiled to the public in January 1995 at the Detroit Auto Show, the GT90 is finished in bright white with a bright blue and carbon fiber interior. It features a mid engine quad-turbocharged V12 that produces an estimated 720 horsepower and 660 pound-feet of torque. As a result, it had a claimed top speed of 253 mph, which even by today's standards would make it one of the fastest production cars in the world – faster even than a McLaren F1, which was widely considered the world's preeminent supercar at the time.

Built by a small specialized group over at Ford SVT in just over six months time, the concept's development timeline was very tight and therefore borrowed components from other vehicles. The team mainly borrowed parts from another supercar that was also way ahead of its time, the Jaguar XJ220.

The engine, which was a 48-valve six-liter V12, had to be combined together with four Garrett Systems T2 turbochargers in order to reach its estimated 720 horsepower and was based on the Ford Modular engine. Created by using parts of two Lincoln V8 engines, engineers removed the last pair of cylinders from the rear of one engine and the first pair of cylinders from the front of the other engine. The cut-down engines were then welded together with the final result being a 90-degree V12, which utilized a 90.2 mm bore and a 77.3 mm stroke to achieve maximum power.

The GT90 features the FFD-Ricardo five-speed manual gearbox found on the XJ220 and, considering the torque load that it is designed to handle, is noted as having a relatively light shift quality. Also borrowed from the XJ220 comes the all around double wishbone suspension that was designed to enable the car to handle well at top speeds.

Using Ford's new "Edge" design philosophy, the car incorporated advanced technology with a mixture of flat planes, angles, glass and triangular shapes that seemingly all collided together. The GT90 was the first car created using this new styling directive from Ford, which went on to be responsible for the creation of other Ford products like the Ka and Cougar. The effect is most impressive and a wonderfully executed stylistic throwback to its GT40 predecessor, which at once stays true to its heritage but acknowledges the advances in modern design. Taken directly from race car technology, the GT90 body panels are molded out of carbon fiber while the chassis is formed out of a honey-comb sectioned aluminum monocoque.

The GT90 is a test bed of advanced technology and design. It sports a tinted, laminated glass bubble over the cockpit and a spoiler that rises off the rear deck at high speeds. According to Ford, it has a "design that tightly enclosed its mechanicals with no wasted space; high tech lighting and blind-spot detection systems; and tiles like those on the space shuttle to shield the V12's exhaust outlets."

The interior of the car is easily accessed by pushing on a small yellow panel located on the B-pillar that allows the door to swing open. Amazingly for a supercar, it is relatively easy to climb into the cockpit, as the door sill is low and narrow, and the glass which arcs well into the roof is fixed to the door. Reminiscent of an airplane cockpit, the interior is finished in bright blue suede and leather, a carbon fiber center console and custom blue lit gauges. An abundance of brushed and polished aluminum adorns the interior, from the open shift gate and linkage to the controls on the center console, right down to the key for the car.

Ford's engineers included a few other options that were designed for use on the show circuit; the tires were specially made with "GT90" carved directly into the tread, and the doors, as well as all of the lights both inside and out, could easily be opened or turned on via a remote control.

After its unveiling in Detroit, the GT90 made its rounds on the Auto Show Circuit in 1995, traveling around the world to Frankfurt and as far away as Tokyo. With few other showings in between, the car recently was shipped over to Europe to be on display in the Ford of Europe 2008 exhibit at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. After returning home, the car was shipped to Alabama where it was on display as part of the Mustang 45th Anniversary Celebration.

This superb concept car remains in excellent running condition, having been properly stored and maintained over the years in between its show appearances. RM Auctions is proud to publicly offer the GT90 for the first time ever at auction. A remarkable one-off piece of automotive history and cutting-edge design, its offering may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity for Ford devotees and concept car enthusiasts.

Estimate: Available Upon Request

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      not in a while have i wanted to be a millionaire...

      buy car, disassemble, make it actually work and drive properly (as well as make another or 3), drive to 250, sell replicas for profit!
      JDM Life
      • 5 Years Ago
      Best Ford EVER !

      SO want....
        • 5 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        agreed. The GT90 represents the only time I've grabbed a playboy for the article.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @JDM Life
        Yeah, I really wish Ford would make this car into production. This car looks extremely awesome.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Jeremy Clarkson say in an ages old Top Gear episode that he drove this and it was actually a terrible car?

      Not that anything he says should be taken seriously (plus it's just a concept anyway), I'm just trying to see if my memory is accurate.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is it sad that I only know about this concept because of Need for Speed II?

      Still, that doesn't make this car any less awesome. I believed it looked futuristic back then, and it still does even today. Those looks will always stay with me. However, that quad-turbo V12 sounds really nasty, and not in a good way, if it needed ceramic tiles to prevent any heat damage to the car.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am kind of curious as to who owns this car and how they got it from Ford.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Wish Ferd had the cajones to build it.

      Ditto w/Chrysler and it's even MORE awesome ME-12:

      • 5 Years Ago
      So does the car also come with that quad turbo v12 engine in a working condition or is it just a dummy engine?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I have wanted this car since I first had a folder of one in the second grade. What's crazy today is that a lot of supercars of this era have design cues from the GT90. There's a lot of Murcielago in those hind quarters, and a lot of Bugatti in the front. This thing was way ahead of its time (design and technology-wise).
      • 5 Years Ago
      Aside from the interior being bright blue or purple or whatever that color is, even it doesn't look 15 years dated. The design of it is quite modern.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I still clearly remember seeing this is person in '95 at the Canadian International Autoshow. It looks even cooler in person, and doesn't look dated even 15 years later!
      • 5 Years Ago
      It was Jack Telnack!
      "...........Telnack also created the "New Edge" style that brought about cars like the 1996 Ford Ka, Ford GT90 concept car and influenced the design of the 1998 Ford Focus."


        • 5 Years Ago
        Thanks for the info. Seems to me that Telnack's accomplishments are severely underrated, considering I'd never really heard of him.
      • 5 Years Ago
      This was my favorite car when it came out... when I was 12... Wow, I feel oldish now. I still have the HotWheels for it.
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