This year, the Galpin was back, albeit with one big change. That twin-turbo engine? Gone. In its place, a 5.4-liter V8 with a 4.0-liter Whipple supercharger bolted on, delivering an astonishing 1,058 hp and 992 lb-ft of torque on 110-octane fuel. 0-60? 2.9 seconds. Top speed? Somewhere above 225 miles per hour.
"Some things to keep in mind: no stability control, no traction control," were the only warnings given by Galpin's Brandon Boeckmann before taking me on a quick spin in the supercar. And after having my eyes thrown into the back of my skull a few times, laughing hysterically and trying to regain full use of my hearing after my ear drums being bombarded by the apocalyptic roar behind me, Brandon pulled over and said it was my turn, if I was ready to take the wheel.
- Getting in and out of the GTR1 is the same awkward experience it is with the Ford GT. The doors extend into the roof panels, so you have to open wide. You don't really hop in so much as you sort of throw yourself into the driver's chair. The seat grips you tight, you reach down and slide the chair forward. You instinctively tilt your head to the right as you pull the door closed. At that moment, you're greeted with a familiar interior – though in a jarringly unfamiliar all-blue color scheme, here – with a small steering wheel and familiarly long, horizontal row of gauges that extend out to the middle of the dash.
- Turn the key in the ignition, hit the red engine start button in the center stack, and the GTR1 comes to live with a noise that cannot be precisely described. It's loud. No, louder. No, louder than that. It's so loud that the Galpin crew were not able to test it at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca because it exceeds the track's noise restrictions. It is illegally loud. And you won't be able to get enough.
- Pulling away at low speeds, the GTR1 chugs to life, with a throttle and clutch that are surprisingly easy to modulate. There's a progressive nature to the go-pedal, too – all that power isn't available right at the start. Good thing, too, so you can actually pull out onto the road with some dignity, and you won't get the back end to kick out until you're deeper into the throttle's travel.
- The shift lever has been shortened versus the standard GT, and the gears are selected with a solid, shorter-throw action, too. You don't feel like you're trying to move the earth when shifting gears in the Galpin – it's pretty easy, and feels natural. It reminds me of the stock Ford GT in this regard – incredibly capable, but very easy to drive.
- Now, to be clear, I didn't even reach close to the car's full potential on my street drive. I was limited to the roads of the Monterey Peninsula, and while there were plenty of great curves to throw the GTR1 into, it is simply too powerful to explore its limits on public streets.
- From what I can surmise, Galpin engineers have done a nice job of not only keeping the spirit of the Ford GT intact, they've added some of that conceptual madness in a way that's easy to manage. The steering is generally good, with a direct action that isn't overly touchy, allowing the driver to correct the occasional bouts of oversteer with ease.
- The ride height has been lowered, and the car rides on 20-inch wheels with super grippy Pirelli PZero tires. The ride is rather harsh, considering the overall lack of suspension travel, but it won't break your back. The comfortable, supportive seats keep things copacetic from inside, too – even if you do hit a particularly jarring bump, you won't be thrown around inside the cockpit.
- Most impressive, though, are the brakes, able to absolutely halt the speeding GTR1 on a dime. The car uses carbon-carbon rotors, and they stop. Immediately. Yet they don't feel snatchy when you don't need 100-percent, remaining well-modulated and progressive.
- The only thing I'm not fully in love with is the styling. From the rear three-quarter view, the GTR1 looks really cool, and reasonably unique. But from the front, I can't help but think it still looks like a less-attractive GT, with some odd Jaguar XK cues thrown in there, too. That said, it gets a ton of attention – everyone on the road gave me the thumbs-up, and cyclists on the side of the road waved me by, some urging me to slam the throttle and give them the full brunt of the Galpin's noise and fury. Monterey Car Week brings out some really interesting stuff to the peninsula in northern California, and even in this company, I was a rock star.
- Galpin Auto Sports has six Ford GT chassis standing by, reading to fill orders for the monstrous supercar for those able to handle the over $1-million starting price. But you'll get a car that's built to order, with the interior and exterior able to be fully customized. Of course, with enough time and money, pretty much anything is possible.