Journalist Matthew DeBord has been covering the auto industry for years, and in Return to Glory he tells the story of Ford’s revival as a company as exemplified by the new GT. A decade ago, CEO Alan Mulally took over the iconic company and, thanks to a big financial gamble and his “One Ford” plan, helped it weather the financial crisis and a stock price that plunged to $1 a share, without a government bailout. In the process, the company began to dream of repeating racing history. DeBord recounts the history of the GT in the 1960s, details the creation of the new GT, and follows the team through the racing season, from an inauspicious debut at Daytona where the cars kept breaking down, to glimmers of hope at Sebring and the team’s first victory at Laguna Seca in Monterey.
Finally, DeBord joins the Ford team in Le Mans in June 2016. This fabled 24-hour endurance race is designed to break cars and drivers, and it was at Le Mans, fifty years after the company’s greatest triumph, that Ford’s comeback was put to the ultimate and newly triumphant test.
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Only 500 GTs for the road and four for the track would be built, with two racing in North America and two in Europe. The car would be exceptionally rare, and that low production number, along with the steep price tag, signaled that although Ford was creating the race cars and road cars at the same time, the GT was first and foremost a competitive machine, committed to race in both the United States and Europe until 2019. Every other vehicle that it would race against in 2016 would be built (in some cases had been built) in far greater numbers for the road and would not be so strictly limited in terms of total production.
Interestingly, although the new GT was created under these unusual conditions, it wasn’t a fraught or difficult process. Under the circumstances, this was remarkable.
Moray Callum, who heads up design at Ford, said “It was less of a challenge than designing, say, the next-generation Fiesta”a small Ford vehicle I had checked out in Irvine several years before. An inexpensive mass-market car like that has to be designed and built to a price point, engineered for the production of hundreds of thousands of units in many different countries. When designing such a vehicle, you’re always deciding what not to do.
The GT was different. “We tried to stretch the limits as much as possible,” Callum said.
Table of Contents
Part I This Could All Go Away
Chapter 1 Betting the Farm 3
Chapter 2 One Ford 24
Chapter 3 Behold the New GT 48
Chapter 4 Disaster at Daytona 75
Part II All Rights, We'll Beat his Ass
Chapter 5 Ford Would Like to Buy Ferrari 101
Chapter 6 No Tougher Test 111
Chapter 7 The GT40 123
Chapter 8 One-Two-Three 131
Part III We're Going to Win From the Lead
Chapter 9 The Tesla Factor 141
Chapter 10 The Road to Le Mans: Sebring and Long Beach 156
Chapter 11 Silverstone, Laguna Seca, and Spa 163
Chapter 12 You Want to Win the Big Ones 174
Chapter 13 We're Going to Win from the Lead 195
Chapter 14 Fifty Years to the Day 205