Sports Car Modification

Galpin GTR1: 10 Years After Its Unveiling, It’s Still the Most Extreme Ford GT Ever

During the 1960s, Ford built one of the most successful endurance race cars of all time. It all started with the Blue Oval’s attempt to acquire Ferrari, a deal that eventually fell through and drove Hank the Deuce (Henry Ford II) to greenlight the development of a Prancing Horse-slaying race car.

Initially built around a Lola chassis powered by a huge Ford V8, the car that was modified to perfection by engineering masterminds such as Carroll Shelby ended up beating Ferrari at Le Mans on four consecutive occasions, from 1966 to 1969.

The GT40 would remain one of the most beloved American vehicles ever built. And although some examples were converted for road use, it remained an extremely expensive, thoroughbred racer car. Decades later, Ford decided to change that and build a modern, street-legal version that could be enjoyed by a wider audience. It started with the 1995 GT90 concept but the first modern iteration that made it into production was unveiled in the early 2000s. Though it was by no means cheap, the first-generation GT was far more attainable than a genuine GT40 and best of all, it looked much like the 1960s legend.

A little over 4,000 GTs were built between 2004 and 2006. Then, ten years later, the second generation came into being. This time, it was powered by a turbocharged V6 instead of a supercharged V8. And it was capable of up to 700 hp (710 ps), a figure that made the most powerful GT-badged car produced by Ford. However, the most extreme GT ever built came in 2013 courtesy of Galpin Auto Sports.

How it all began

Galpin Ford GTR1

Photo: Galpin Auto Sports

Founded back in 1946 by Frank Galpin, Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) became one of the most recognized custom car shops in the U.S. Headquartered in Los Angeles, California it’s famous for many custom projects based on mass-produced Ford models. The Shelby GT500KR KITT, the star of the 2008-2009 Knight Rider TV series or the 725-hp (735 ps) Rocket Mustang were two of them.

After the Blue Oval ended production of the first-gen GT, GAS began toying with the idea of creating a new car. That one car would showcase what the GT would have become if Ford would have continued the project.

The idea quickly turned into the company’s most ambitious project and a few years later, a fully-functional prototype was unveiled at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

A completely redesigned body

Galpin Ford GTR1

Photo: Galpin Auto Sports

Although it was based on the first-gen GTs chassis which received minor modifications, the car dubbed GTR1 received a completely new body.

Designed in-house by GAS and hand-built by the concept car experts at Metalcrafters, the all-aluminum structure departed the GT40-inspired theme and showcased a far more modern take on the iconic shape by cleverly combining ample curves with sharp edges.

As a fan of both the original 1960s look and the 2004-2006 GT’s reinterpretation, it’s hard to say that the GTR1 looked better. But it was unquestionably cool and well-built.

A twin-turbo V8 capable of more than 1,000 HP

Galpin Ford GTR1

Photo: Galpin Auto Sports

While the exterior design left room for debate, the GTR1’s rabid powerplant surely didn’t. Like the chassis, it was based on the GT’s 5.4-liter, 4-valve Modular V8, but it was tuned to produce nearly twice as much power.

The most notable modification was swapping out the stock Eaton 2300 Lysholm supercharger with a pair of 61 mm (2.4 inches) turbochargers. A few other Ford Performance upgrades enabled the coachbuilt supercar to hit 1,024 hp (1,038 ps) and 739 lb-ft (1,002 Nm) of torque on pump gas. But Galpin came up with even more impressive figures. When fed 100-octane fuel, the engine could churn out 1,197 hp (1,214 ps) and 887 lb-ft (1,203 Nm) of torque.

The company also announced that the car could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph (97 kph) in a little over 3 seconds and reach a top speed of 225 mph (362 kph). However, these claims were never backed up by independent tests.

It’s also worth noting that later versions of the GTR1 reverted to supercharging, being equipped with Whipple twin-scroll units that kept output over 1,000 hp.

The first production car with carbon-carbon rotors

Galpin Ford GTR1

Photo: Galpin Auto Sports

Built in close collaboration with the Blue Oval, the GTR1 was not just the most extreme Ford GT ever built. But it was also the first production car with carbon-carbon rotors.

First used in the aeronautics industry, these rotors dramatically improve weight and braking performance and are often used in motorsport, most notably in Formula 1. These shouldn’t be confused with carbon-ceramic rotors which, as the name implies, have embedded ceramic elements that improve wear, especially when used on road-legal cars.

As was the case with the engine’s forced induction system, later versions of the car received more “streetable” carbon-ceramic rotors because the major drawback of the carbon-carbon units was their tendency to wear quickly at either very high or very low temperatures.

Now 10 years old, the fantastic Galpin-Ford GTR1 was produced from 2013 to 2016. It was available with either a full aluminum or carbon fiber body for a price that exceeded $1,000,000 but official production figures were never released, so we don’t know exactly how many of these beasts have been unleashed into the wild. One thing’s for sure, it remains the most outrageous GT of them all and one of the most fascinating coachbuilt supercars developed in the U.S.

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