I drive a lot of different cars. Big cars. Little cars. Performance cars. New cars. Old cars. These days, it’s tremendously difficult for a car to truly impress me. Well, the 2006 Ford GT truly impressed me. See the 2006 Ford GT models for sale near you
Before I get into my feelings on the Ford GT, allow me to tell you about how I got the chance to drive one. Here’s what happened: In my last two videos, I asked you to send me an email if you had a cool car I could review. So I got emails from all over the country with all sorts of cool cars to review, and someone emailed and told me I could review their Honda Accord Coupe.
But the best note came from a reader named Zak, located near Toronto, Ontario, who told me I could take his 2006 Ford GT for a spin. This is not an offer you turn down. Although the GT sold new for $150,000 10 years ago, nice ones are now worth $400,000. Many GT owners are too scared to drive their cars, let alone turn them over to an idiot automotive writer who once compared the price of a Nissan Murano Crosscabriolet to a manatee. And so, for the second time in a month, I drove from Philadelphia to Toronto and back in order to review a car. Eight hours up on Saturday. Eight hours back on Sunday.
It was worth every minute.
I expected that the mid-2000s Ford GT would be a lot like an overgrown Viper — in other words, poorly made, shoddily stitched together and falling apart, with a pickup-truck engine and a rough, vague transmission. After all, this was an exotic supercar designed when Ford was still making the New Edge Mustang. The Five Hundred sedan. The Freestar minivan. The ZX2. The freakin’ ZX2! How can a company that makes the ZX2 also create a world-class supercar?
I’m still not sure how. But they did it.
First off, let’s discuss the styling. It’s been 10 years since this car came out, and I still believe its design is one of the all-time classics — possibly because it was based on one of the all-time classics, the original Ford GT40 race car. The styling doesn’t get old. You don’t grow tired of it. Even when I was filming with the car — after climbing around it all morning, opening the hood, the trunk and the gas cap, and driving it on the street — I still had to struggle to keep my jaw from dropping as I followed behind in my own car to grab lunch with Zak after we were done filming.
The interior is similarly impressive. Not due to its design — in fact, there are many design flaws, such as doors that make it tremendously difficult to get in and out, highly uncomfortable seats, zero storage space and some switchgear noticeably cribbed from the Ford parts bin — but because it’s still holding up well after a decade of driving. There aren’t any squeaks. There aren’t any rattles. In its first attempt, Ford managed to build a better supercar interior than Ferrari, which has been in this game since Dewey defeated Truman.
And then it was time to take the GT out on the road, where I discovered the single most surprising thing about it: It drives really well.
I know, I know: This shouldn’t be surprising. But I think a lot of people expect the Ford GT to be uproariously, annoyingly American-sports-car loud, with tons of wind, road and engine noise at virtually every speed. But it isn’t. Inside, it’s no louder than a standard sports car, such as a Mustang or a Hyundai Genesis Coupe, unless you really mash the pedal — and even then, you don’t hear some massive, raucous engine that sounds like it’s trying to break free and climb into the cabin to beat you up. Instead, you can carry on a normal conversation with your passenger — until the revolutions per minute get really high, and you only stop talking then because you’re so worried about crashing. More on that in a minute.
I also think a lot of people expect the Ford GT to be uncomfortable and painful to drive. Rough over bumps, crashy, harsh — a total workout every time you climb behind the wheel. But it isn’t. It’s low to the ground, sure, so you have to be careful of potholed roads and speed bumps. But the car doesn’t bump around, the ride isn’t incredibly harsh, and it doesn’t force you to feel every little pebble in the road, like a Lotus Elise or, you know, a Ferrari Challenge car.
Instead, on most roads, the GT drives … normally. Composed. Relatively smooth. Surprisingly … drivable. In fact, the most uncomfortable thing about the GT has nothing to do with the driving experience: It’s the circular, aluminum seat inserts, which annoyingly push at your spine no matter how you angle your back. But folks, any problem that can be solved with a pillow isn’t really a major problem.
I also think a lot of people expect the Ford GT to do one thing well — travel in a straight line — with its handling and steering something of an afterthought. But this isn’t the case. Although I didn’t get the chance to drive the GT on any tight, curvy back roads, it’s easy to see how stable and poised the car is after just a few quick turns. Steering is a bit light, admittedly, but not worse than other exotics from this era — and the car responds to direction changes quite well. It’s not twitchy, like a Lotus or a certain TVR Tuscan. Instead, it’s linear, predictable and rewarding.
Most importantly, I think a lot of people expect the Ford GT to be a compromise: a car you bought because you didn’t want a Ferrari or a Lamborghini — you wanted something American. But there’s no compromise here. The clutch is simple, with no strange catch point, and it’s easy to push, with no oppressive weight that makes the car impossible to drive. The shifter is smooth and fun to operate, though first and third are pretty close together — a distinction that takes some time to get used to.
And here’s the kicker: The GT doesn’t rumble at traffic lights. This is something I’ve experienced in every Italian exotic car I’ve ever driven: Some panel doesn’t fit quite right, so when you’re sitting at a traffic light, you can always feel a little vibration through the steering wheel or on your seat, or you can always hear a little rattle from some part that just barely contacts some other part. This doesn’t happen in the Ford GT. In the Ford GT, traffic lights are dead quiet and dead smooth. The only sounds you hear are shouts of “Oh my God!” and “Look at that!” coming from people in Honda Accords and Jeep Grand Cherokees, whose days you’ve just made.
Of course, the Ford GT does meet expectations in one crucial area: acceleration. Zak told me that his stock, from-the-factory, completely unmodified GT will spin the tires in both first and second gear. I didn’t bother trying. I didn’t stab the gas pedal more than three quarters of the way down, and yet I still felt a massive, absurd, foolish amount of torque and power at my disposal. This is another advantage the GT has over similar-age Ferraris: torque. The Ferraris have the power and the sound, but you have to really work for the performance, since the torque doesn’t appear until you get to the top of the rev range. In the GT, you don’t have to work for the performance. The work you do involves simply keeping the car on the road.
So let’s talk about keeping the car on the road. Driving normally, it isn’t hard at all: The GT predictably goes where you want at all times, and it never feels like it’s going to become uncontrollable unless you really want it to. But I still believe avoiding a crash is probably the biggest problem with the Ford GT — not because of its handling, its power, some twitchy steering or uncontrollable physics, but because it’s worth so much freaking money.
It doesn’t matter how much you’re used to this car, how many miles you’ve driven it or how comfortable you are with its size and capabilities. There’s always going to be a little voice in the back of your mind reminding you that you’re driving a car that’s currently worth as much as a midsize house and likely soon to be worth as much as a large house. If one of those Honda Accord people shouting “Look at that!” makes a bad lane change, they’ll be faced with personal bankruptcy, as the GT’s value probably exceeds their insurance maximums.
In other words, driving the GT is a lot of responsibility, and I think that would prevent me from really enjoying it to the fullest extent possible. But I still loved and was tremendously surprised by the GT, and it’s now easy for me to see why its values have climbed as high as $400,000: because it’s easy to drive, because it offers amazing performance, and because it looks like nothing else on the road. And on the 8-hour drive home, as I was eating a hamburger in Binghamton, New York, I decided something: My fantasy 2-car garage, currently home to a Porsche Carrera GT and a BMW 1 Series M, will require an expansion in order to make room for the Ford GT. Find a 2006 Ford GT for sale