Recently, I was invited to drive a 2006 Ford GT owned by the Midwest Dream Car Collection, an automotive museum based in Manhattan, Kansas. I received this invitation not only because the employees are a nice bunch of Midwesterners, but also because they’re hoping some publicity will help with their application for a new Ford GT. Since they are ridiculously nice and overly trusting people, they also let me try a Lamborghini Aventador for comparison, but after driving both, there really was no comparison.
I had never driven either of these cars before, and honestly, I was really hoping to find enough things to dislike about the Ford that I could get under Doug DeMuro’s skin. Our editor here at Oversteer recently bought a Ford GT, as well, and since he seems to hate most of the cars that I buy, I was hoping to return the favor. Since a used GT is trading for way more than its original MSRP — up around the same price as a lightly used Lamborghini Aventador — I thought I could show how silly this nostalgic tribute would be in comparison to a modern hypercar.
Now on paper, or more like by Googling around the internet and watching YouTube videos, the Aventador seems like a far superior car. The styling is loud but also gorgeous at the same time, and the same adjectives can be used for the exhaust note. With its 700-horsepower V12 versus the GT’s 550-horsepower supercharged V8, they’re not in the same league of performance. In terms of technology, the Lamborghini feels 30 years ahead of the Ford. Truly, the only thing these cars have in common is pricing, which $300,000 is way out of my league.
Honestly, I was more excited to drive the Aventador, but this was one of those instances where you don’t want to meet your heroes. To me, it didn’t feel much different than driving a Murcielago, which sells for half the price of an Aventador, and much of that had to do with the retention of the rough shifting single-clutch gearbox. It was pretty much impossible to enjoy driving this car at legal speeds, since you really couldn’t hear the exhaust or run it through the gears without risking an overnight stay behind bars. The Aventador I drove was formerly owned by Mario Andretti, who may have installed the radar detector to help combat this problem, but I wasn’t going to push it. Perhaps the nervousness of driving such an expensive car also didn’t help, but in any event, I couldn’t see myself spending $300,000 on a car that is pretty rough and almost boring to drive at normal speeds.
With the Ford GT, after whacking my head on the oddly shaped doors and inserting a key that would also work in a 1998 Ford Explorer, I wasn’t expecting much. From the cabin, the supercharged V8 doesn’t sound that different than a 1998 Ford Lightning pickup– and the supercharger whizzing a few inches from my head didn’t look much different than the Lightning’s either. I called Doug DeMuro as I was about to pull away, who actually answered for once, and he reiterated his belief that the Ford GT is the best American car ever made. Just to make him mad, I retorted that the Buick Park Avenue Ultra was better — but obviously, I was wrong.
The GT was as close to perfect as I’ve ever experienced in a car, with the right amount of power to be exciting, but you could still row its manual transmission at speeds that won’t send you directly to jail. The handling was also amazing and surprisingly comfortable. I couldn’t believe how civilized this car was, yet it still had everything you would want from a supercar. I was in such a euphoric state at the end of the drive that I completely forgot about the doors again and violently whacked my head on the way out. I didn’t care.
So I guess Doug and I are on the same page when it comes to our supercars. While I understand the appeal of the flash and noise of the Aventador, I would much rather have a car that I could actually enjoy driving on a regular basis. Maybe if I quit buying a broken car from the bargain bin every month, I could actually afford one of these — but that will probably never happen.