Ryan Merrill © 2014, courtesy of Auctions America
Ryan Merrill © 2014, courtesy of Auctions America
Inspired by the all-conquering GT40 race cars that beat Ferrari at Le Mans and won the famed 24-hour race four years in a row, the Ford GT was much more than a mere design resemblance when it was launched. It was a supercar the likes of which Detroit had never before produced. On top speed alone, it surpassed even the Porsche Carrera GT and Mercedes-McLaren SLR. It even set new lap records on the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife — faster than many of the highly developed cars from Porsche. The blue and orange JW Automotive/Gulf Oil livery worn by the cars of the John Wyer racing teams of the 1960s and 1970s is one of the most widely respected and recognized in the world. In 2006, Ford added this special limited-edition paint scheme to the exclusive GT, with this particular machine finished in a striking Heritage Blue with Epic Orange stripes and white roundels, and displaying the racing number “6” in honor of the last victory at Le Mans for the legendary GT40. Power comes from a supercharged 5.4-liter V8 with a 6-speed gearbox, producing 550 horsepower and uttering a throaty, muscular exhaust note. Featuring space-age construction technologies, the GT was produced in four distinct stages. Initial assembly was at Norwalk, Ohio’s Mayflower Vehicle Systems. The cars were painted by Saleen at the Saleen Special Vehicles facility in Troy, MI, and engine assembly was at Ford’s Romeo, MI, engine plant. Finally, engine and transmission installation, plus interior finishing, was at Ford’s Wixom, MI, plant. This “Heritage” Ford GT is one of 343 produced. With meticulous ownership from new and only 80 miles driven, this remarkable example is, for all practical matters, a new car. It is factory-equipped with all four available options, including the $5,000 painted stripes, the $4,000 McIntosh CD stereo system, the $3,500 lightweight BBS forged-aluminum wheels, and the $750 color-matched Brembo brake calipers. Only 4,038 Ford GT cars were produced, with approximately 550, 1,900 and 1,600 built during 2004, 2005 and 2006, respectively. Demand outstripped supply, with early cars selling for substantial premiums over the MSRP. It would no doubt be to the delight of Henry Ford II, Enzo Ferrari’s archrival during the 1960s, that the Ford GT remains more than capable of running with its competition from Maranello today.  

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition
Number Produced:4,038
Original List Price:$149,995
Tune Up Cost:$850
Chassis Number Location:Lower-left windshield corner
Engine Number Location:Bar code sticker on valve cover
Investment Grade:A

This car, Lot 548, sold for $412,500, including buyer’s premium, at Auctions America’s Fort Lauderdale, FL, auction on March 15, 2014.

To borrow from the old “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” script, the usual scenario for supercar values in the first decades after purchase is “Dive! Dive!” However the value curve for the Ford GT has defied convention ever since the model was launched for 2004. At first, the car’s value impressively held its own, with quickly flipped examples even surpassing their original MSRP.

Then they began to creep upward from there. Five years ago, in 2009, SCM tracked a 2005 model at the Bonhams auction in Sydney, Australia, that sold for $187,128 — a heady premium over the car’s original MSRP (SCM# 154426). And in 2012, at RM’s Dingman Collection sale, a 2005 model sold for $242,000, continuing the upward drive (October 2012, American Profile, p. 56). And now this Auctions America example, Lot 548, has hit $412,500 — a most impressive bump indeed.

What’s going on here?

Why this car? Many premium items are seeing strong gains right now, from collector cars to real estate to stocks. So the Ford GT is not alone in this area. Specific to this model though, I believe there are two factors in play here.

One is that America has produced so few exotic sports cars that took on the world’s best at Le Mans. In the post-war era, there were Cunninghams and Cobras, and Chaparrals, Corvettes, Vipers — and Ford GT40s. Not a long list, and the Ford GT40’s battles with Ferrari were legendary.

Discounting continuation Cobras and Daytona coupes as basically hobby cars, only the Ford GT was properly rekindled as a truly modern version of its former self. And it was a great model to pick for the honor, because the Ford GT40 stood very tall in its day.

Famously green-lighted by Hank the Deuce when Enzo rebuffed his overture to buy Ferrari, the original race car was one of the best antagonistic racing programs ever devised — build an American car, take it to Europe and destroy Ferrari’s grip on the most important sports car race in the world. The Ford GT40 did just that, not just once, but four times. As such, it earned a sweethearts-forever place in American car culture, and when Ford created the 4,000-odd re-dos, they were instantly in demand.

Second, this Ford GT was so authentic, so compassionately rendered, and such a good sports car. Compared with other, rather performance-deprived retro-cars, such as Plymouth’s PT Cruiser and Prowler and even Ford’s own Thunderbird, having one this good made people feel nothing but good themselves.

A classic modern car?

There is another possible factor that I’ll admit to have been wondering about for a while. Will computer-infested, thermoplastic-injection-molded, CAD/CAM robotically created, and DOT/NHSTA/EPA-certified cars ever achieve status as true classics? Although the advancement of such modern “plastic cars” into silly-money range is still likely incomprehensible to some, we could well be headed there, with cars such as the Ford GT leading the way.

Should this ever happen, it will strongly prove that high collector car prices are not necessarily driven by hand-beaten aluminum and twin-choke Webers, but rather emotion. The original mid-1960s Ford GT40 had this in spades, and the 2004–06 Ford GT repops do too.

At first, it seems the price paid for this fully optioned example was over the top. But considering that the car is among the best examples of the best commemorative-edition sports cars the U.S. — or any other country — has ever built, maybe it’s not over the top at all. But I’m still calling it really well sold. ♦

(Introductory description courtesy of Auctions America.)

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