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.
RM Auction Sale
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.