In an age where almost everybody has a smartphone in their pocket and spy photographers literally camp outside carmaker HQs, it is frankly astounding how Ford was able to keep the new GT supercar a secret until the very moment of its Detroit unveiling.
Rumours had been circulating, but the bombshell that was dropped at Detroit was like no other.
Few predicted it would have a twin-turbo V6 in lieu of an atmo V8, and fewer still had actually laid eyes on its radically buttressed bodywork before the show opened.
No grainy long-lens shots of a prototype circulating the Nurburgring, no 'speculative' renderings based on the testimony of a loose-lipped (but always anonymous) company insider.
There were precious few clues about what Ford had planned for its revived supercar.
But how did the company achieve this? According to US industry paper Automotive News, keeping the GT secret safe relied on one common-sense rule: keep the team small.
Just six designers were assigned to the GT project - the lead designer being Australian Todd Willing - and only a small number of other employees attached to the project (which was code-named Phoenix), could access the prototype itself.
Even its 'lock and key' stabling was unique, with the prototype locked in a nondescript basement room behind conventional doors, rather than the electronic keypass-enabled doors used elsewhere in Ford's Dearborn HQ.
If the designers needed to haul the car outside to see it in natural light, they waited for the weekend when nobody was around.
"A lot of people probably knew something was going on, but no one actually knew" said Moray Callum, Ford's global design chief, to Automotive News.
The secrecy required for the project also enabled the Phoenix team to bypass the usual bureacratic obstacles encountered during a road car's development program, speeding up the process and allowing tthe car's development timeline to be compressed into just 14 months.
"Usually, we like to encourage, especially on important programs, wide input from around the world," Callum said.
"But on this one, we sort of realized both in terms of time and the element of keeping it quiet that we probably had to change the process here, so we picked a small group of designers."
And keep in mind that the GT is no concept car.
What was shown at Detroit is mostly production-ready, and the car is slated to start rolling down the production line in 2016.
Underneath the sleek bodywork will lie a mid-mounted, twin-turbo, port/direct-injected 3.5 litre V6 which promises in excess of 447kW.
That engine will be hooked up to a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic, and power taken to the rear wheels.
The suspension is essentially that of a race car too, because the GT road car is a homologated version of the GTE-category racecar that Ford will take to Le Mans next year.
Make no mistake, the 2016 Ford GT will be a proper supercar.
Source: Automotive News
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