How the $750,000 2020 Ford GT Carbon Liquid is made
It is one thing to make a car with a carbon-fiber body. It’s another to forego paint and expose that sexy weave under only clearcoat. When Ford showed the Carbon Fiber Series special edition of the Ford GT supercar at SEMA in 2018 with portions of the car protected by gloss instead of paint, it opened the door. You could see the raw carbon fiber in the stripes, A-pillars, and lower body panels.
“We knew people would say, ‘why can’t we do the whole car?’ ” said Dave Pericak, Ford’s engineering director of North American unibody applications. But the trick is it has to be impeccable execution because there is no paint to hide any imperfections. “If it doesn’t perfectly come together it stands out like a sore thumb,” Pericak said. Ford nevertheless pressed on and the result is the 2020 Ford GT Liquid Carbon special edition introduced at the 2020 Chicago Auto Show. The car also has improved cooling and engineers have coaxed an additional 13 horsepower—for a total of 660—from the 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6.
Making this incredibly cool-looking body is not easy and takes a lot more time, skill and attention. The bodies are made by hand by carbon-fiber specialist and race-car shop Multimatic in Markham, Ontario. The plant’s full production capacity is devoted to making the GT, and there is a limited number of people who can do the painstaking work. It takes skill and patience to ensure the weaves consistently line up perfectly.
Looking at the Liquid Carbon GT, the hood shows that intricacy, and the way the fibers continue to meet over the curves and shapes of the sports car is impressive. The direction of the weave and the color must match. Each car is made from a single batch of material. There’s plenty of trial and error in the engineering and tooling and actual assembly, said Jeff Tanis, Multimatic director of global operations for niche vehicles. The process takes three times longer than working with a carbon-fiber piece that will be painted.
Multimedia can build about one GT a day. An average week sees four regular GTs and one special edition leave the facility. Tanis said while it takes a week to make a regular GT, it will take three weeks to make the Liquid Carbon. Why do it? “Because we can,” said Pericak. “It’s what makes Ford special and great. ” When the GT finishes its run, what will take its place as Ford’s performance icon? An electric sports car? Pericak just smiles and says “none of us intends to stop what we’re doing.”
Tanis notes it’s unique to make changes to a car that already has a captive buyer pool, which is another way of saying there’s no actual need to improve it to attract buyers. Ford has said it will make 1,350 GTs through the end of 2022, a number that’s nbut a fraction of the applicants who wanted one. About half those on the list have received their car at this point. Those still waiting have the option to change their order to a specialty model when their number comes up.
Pericak expects about a dozen Liquid Carbon models will be produced each year, starting this spring with production running through much of 2022. While the GT starts about $500,000, the Liquid Carbon special edition will be priced about $750,000. The cost of carbon fiber has come down a bit, but not as far as the industry thought it would by now, Pericak said. Ford continues to work internally to make its own, more affordable carbon fiber. But with the GT, the issue remains that so much of the car is hand-built. We’re sure those who plunk down the cash are happy to know so much care is being taken—special edition or no.
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