Photographer: Andrew Harrer

Re-Inventing the Wheels: Ford's Greatest Car Gets a Do-Over

A race car from the 1960s gets a radical redesign.

In any business, recreating a favorite product is a fraught undertaking. Ask any Hollywood producer or software developer. Make the sequel too similar to the seminal version, and it will fall flat. Make it too different, and purists will scream bloody murder.

The Ford GT is shown during the 2015 New York International Auto Show in New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 2, 2015.
The Ford GT is shown during the 2015 New York International Auto Show in New York, U.S., on Thursday, April 2, 2015.
Photographer: Michael Nagle

In other words, Moray Callum had his work cut out for him when he picked up a pencil to redesign one the most coveted cars in history—the Ford GT40. The backstory is the stuff of legend. Ford, spurned in an attempt to buy Ferrari, made 107 of the racecars between 1964 and 1969. After trouncing the field in Europe’s famous races, Ford was satisfied with its grand tour and turned its attention from its light, agile track star to beefy, American muscle cars (and the Pinto).

These days, the most prized of that first batch of Ford race cars fetch almost $8 million. And the company, cruising on resurgent demand for its pickups and SUVs, figured it was time for a victory lap of sorts. Callum, Ford’s vice president for design, got the call. The trick, he said, was balancing the weight of history and massive expectations while creating something contemporary, or even futuristic.

“We agonized over everything to be honest,” Callum said. “We didn’t want to do a retro car. And what we came up with, you can recognize it as a Ford GT, but you can also tell it’s something from the 21st century, not the 20th.”

Join us on April 28 in San Francisco for Bloomberg Businessweek Design 2015.

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