Just Above Sunset
Volume 5, Number 10
March 11, 2007

The Car Corner

 The world as seen from Just Above Sunset -

"Notes on how things seem from out here in Hollywood..."

Double Fake - Just Another Ford on the Sunset Strip

This monster was parked one morning last week on the Strip - looking very hip, in a retro way.  These go for one hundred forty to one hundred seventy thousand a pop.  It's a Ford GT - the modern "homage" to the GT40 of the mid-sixties. But you can't buy one. This is one of the last. The production run ended with the 2006 model year, on 21 September 2006, with 4,038 cars produced. And next year Ford is closing the Wixom Assembly plant where the GT is assembled. They just posted a record loss of twelve billion dollars for the last quarter. Things just aren't going that well for them.

The sixties? In 1966 you might have caught A Man and a Woman - the wildly popular Claude Lelouch film.  Jean-Louis Trintignant plays a test driver for Ford in France, and does a run in a GT40 (but he probably wasn't actually driving). Anouk Aimée plays the widow who falls for him, even if she doesn't seem much interested in cars - she lives up on rue Lamarck in Montmartre and reads the leftie rag Libération, the paper founded by Sartre, among others.  Like she cares?

But the Ford GT40 won the 24 hours of Le Mans four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969.  The Ford people wanted to show the damned Italians we could do what they do, and we could do it better. Ferrari had won Le Mans six times in a row, from 1960 through 1965, so it was time to show them what the Americans could pull off in the Grand Tourisme category. The rules required an overall height of forty inches - thus the name.  And the Ferraris used those dinky little three and four liter V12 engines - so we came with the big block V8 iron, finally running a seven liter engine.  Americans don't do finesse.  It worked.

Ford GT parked on the Sunset Strip

But this thing on Sunset?  It's a now out of production interpretation of a long out of production race car - a double fake. It began as a concept car in 2002 - the company was one hundred years old and they decided to revive the "heritage" names - Mustang and Thunderbird. This was part of that effort.  Camillo Pardo, the head of Ford's "Living Legends" studio, was the chief designer of the GT.  This one was more like the original than the others.  And with two seats, a mid-mounted supercharged 5.4 liter V8 producing five hundred fifty horsepower and a top speed of over two hundred miles an hour, it is pretty cool. It will take you from a dead stop to sixty in 3.8 seconds.

But it was just parked in the early morning murk, across the street from the Whisky A-Go-Go. No music legend walked out, jumped in, and rocketed off down Sunset. Anouk Aimée was nowhere to be seen.

Ford GT parked on the Sunset Strip
Ford GT parked on the Sunset Strip
Ford GT parked on the Sunset Strip

If you use any of these photos for commercial purposes I assume you'll discuss that with me.

These were shot with a Nikon D70 - using lens (1) AF-S Nikkor 18-70 mm 1:35-4.5G ED, or (2) AF Nikkor 70-300mm telephoto, or after 5 June 2006, (3) AF-S DX Zoom-Nikkor, 55-200 mm f/4-5.6G ED. They were modified for web posting using Adobe Photoshop 7.0

The original large-format raw files are available upon request.

[The Car Corner]

Last updated Saturday, March 10, 2007, 10:30 pm Pacific Time

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 - Alan M. Pavlik