12 Cylinders, 4 Turbos in a Factory-Built Ford? The 1995 Ford GT90 Supercar Concept Was Too Wild For the Road
More than just being historically successful racing cars and the pinnacle of Ford road car performance, the GT40 of the 1960s and the modern iterations of Ford GT have been dream cars for young and old alike.
What Could Have Been
But in between the Le Mans-winning classic GT40s and the modern, high tech supercar Ford GT, there’s an alternate version of this car that never saw production, yet still left its mark on the both auto enthusiasts and Ford itself.
We are talking about the Ford GT90—a concept vehicle that made its public debut at the 1995 Detroit Motor Show.
The nearly 30 year old GT90 looks wild and futuristic even by today’s standards, and while it has some clear heritage elements from the original—it was born in an era before the retro craze, and it had a distinctly modern, angular look.
And what sat below the jet fighter-esque, carbon fiber body panels was just as exotic. It used an aluminum monocoupe chassis derived from the Jaguar XJ220. And then there was the engine, which might just be the craziest engine Ford has ever built.
V12 + Quad Turbo = Too Wild
Starting with basic architecture of its modular V8 engine, Ford added four extra cylinders to create a 5.9 liter, 48-valve, DOHC V12. Just having a Ford-built V12 engine alone would have delivered both the power and exotic pedigree to back up the GT90’s ambitions, but Ford didn’t stop there. Next they added not one, not two, but four Garrett T2 turbochargers, and the final result was 720 horsepower and 660 pound feet of torque, supercar numbers even by today’s standards and mind boggling by 1995 standards.
Ford claimed the GT90 would do the quarter mile in 10.9 seconds and have a top speed of over 250 miles per hour—which at the time would have made it one of the fastest road cars ever built.
A Lasting Legacy
Needless to say the GT90 generated tremendous buzz when Ford debuted it, but a production version never saw the light of day for a variety of reasons. For starters, the quad turbo V12 generated an enormous amount of heat, and cooling issues arose even during the limited driving of the prototype.
Ultimately though, it was just a little too ambitious and Ford of the mid 1990s just didn’t have the budget to make a production GT90 a reality. Building quad turbo V12, carbon-bodied supercars to is expensive and difficult today, so imagine how it was in 1995.
While the GT90 never evolved beyond concept stage, it nonetheless left a lasting impression, becoming a “dream car” of the 1990s—recreated as scale models, Hot Wheels diecasts and featured on plenty of ‘90s kids bedroom posters (including the author).
Perhaps more importantly though, the GT90 helped lay the groundwork for another go at the idea, and Ford fully realized that potential several years later when it launched the Ford GT to massive success.
So while no one ever got to buy the wild GT90 of the 1990s, it’s legacy has lead to some pretty amazing things, and it might just be one the greatest American concept cars of the modern era, even if it was never actually built.
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