The Most Extreme Ford GT: Galpin Auto Sports’ Million Dollar GTR1

galpinGTR1leadartIn the mid 1960s, Ford wanted to compete with Ferrari in Le Mans so they built the GT40. The GT stood for Grand Touring, and the 40 represented the overall height of the car at 40 inches.

The GT40 was a sort of slap in the face to Ferrari after a deal between Henry Ford II and Ferrari went south, and though the GT40 and Mk I Fords didn’t finish their debut races, they came back in 1966 and made history by dominating Le Mans in 1966 with the top three finishes over Ferrari.

There were about 107 cars built between 1964 and 1969, with later variants being dubbed the Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, and Mk IV. The GT40 was built as a race car, but there were a few that were made street legal.

The car that started it all: the Ford GT40. Steve McQueen's GT40, used in the movie Le Mans, sold for $11 million at the Pebble Beach auction in 2012.

Steve McQueen’s GT40 – from the movie Le Mans – with the Gulf livery was sold at the famed Pebble Beach auction for $11 million, making it the most expensive American car ever sold in 2012.

Many decades later after production of the GT40 had ceased, a tribute car was built by Ford in 2005 to honor that legendary GT40, only this time the car was primarily a street-legal car that could be purchased right off the showroom floor.


The Ford GT was Ford’s most expensive model, sporting a supercharged 5.4L modular motor and 550 horsepower.

Much like the original GT40, production was limited and over the two year period from 2005-2006, there were only 4,038 cars, with three prototypes built in 2003. The Ford GT became a bit of a hit with enthusiasts, but the $150,000 car was being sold for as much as $100,000 over the sticker price, and only the very wealthy would own a GT.

The Ford GT came in production trim with a Lysholm supercharger added to the 5.4L modular Ford engine, producing 550 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque. Though it was quite a bit for the time, GT owners still wanted more and some tuners were adding a smaller pulley to the supercharger, or adding a pair of turbochargers to get even more power from this factory car.

gtr--001Galpin Auto Sports GTR1

For the ultimate in performance for the Ford GT enthusiast, Galpin Auto Sports (GAS) stepped in and built the GTR1 – a 1,000 horsepower street car with track car capabilities. This custom, hand-made beast is a completely one-off car that you haven’t seen anywhere else. We talked with Ray Petrossian, Service Manager at GAS, to find out what it takes to build this $1 million car.

When Galpin President Beau Boeckmann wanted to build a supercar, he envisioned what the next Ford GT might look like – what it could have been. Since they’ve built the GTR1, Petrossian says that it does have some strong influences on what the next generation GT will look like coming from Ford. The car was destined to be on par with an impressive playing field that included the Bugatti Veyron, and with the money that was to be invested in the GTR1 the price was in the same ball park.

Every bit the luxurious race car, the interior is inviting, and despite our requests, we didn't get a chance to sit in this million dollar car.

The GTR1 begins life as a 2005 or 2006 Ford GT, either as a turn-key car or if a customer supplies the car they can save a little and GAS can build onto their car. Since the original space frame is not cut or modified, the car will end up with a Ford GT registration. But that’s where many of the similarities of the two cars end.


The GTR1 looks right at home at the race track at Willow Springs.

Petrossian says it’s essentially a coach built car, and therefore it won’t need to meet current emission standards – especially for California. The laws are very strict about changing the platform, and this is something that has thrown the proverbial monkey wrench into other coach builders’ vehicles because once the frame is cut or welded it becomes a custom built vehicle instead of coach built.

The original space frame was reinforced in strategic areas, and the entire suspension was replaced with a much wider stance. Longer control arms allow for that extra width, as well as allowing much wider wheels and tires. With the stance coming in at about 5-6 inches wider, special wheels were needed for the GTR1 and HRE was contacted for these limited 20-inch forged aluminum wheels.


Special wheels were made for the GTR1 by HRE to clear the massive carbon rotors and six piston calipers. Going fast means stopping hard, too.

Pirelli P-Zero tires provide the grip, while the stopping duties are done by special six-piston brake calipers clamping down on carbon brake rotors. The coilover suspension uses spherical rod bearings for much better handling. This car was built as a track car that is street legal.

The first car they built is seen here, and it spent a lot of time in the R&D department at GAS. It took about three years to complete, with all of the aluminum body panels fabricated by Metal Crafters. If a customer wants carbon fiber, it’s available but puts the car into another price bracket with the additional cost.


A bit over 1,000 horsepower in a California legal car? Galpin Auto Sports made it happen.

The Ford GT’s original powertrain was used as a base for this car, keeping the 5.4 liter engine and six-speed transmission. However, while the original transmission was strong enough for the power output, a higher output clutch was custom made by McLeod to handle mating the transmission to the 739 lb-ft of torque. The crankshaft is a forged steel unit for strength, and the cylinder heads are CNC ported with a slight cam profile change to complete the combustion chamber.

On top of the stout 5.4 Ford sits a 4.0L Whipple supercharger with a three-inch pulley that helps this combination pump out over 1,000 horses at roughly 27 pounds of boost. Petrossian stated that the original fuel rails were big enough to deliver the amount of fuel this track ready car requires, but new fuel injectors and new fuel pumps were needed since the power output is nearly double what the Ford GT was rated at.


They left the keys dangling when we took our pictures... it was soo tempting! How often do you get this close to the keys of a million dollar car?

The car comes in at about 3,650 pounds, retaining the restraints and air bags that were available with the GT. Inside, though the car is quite a bit wider, the feel of the original GT is felt as the seats, shifter and dashboard are retained. Of course, while there are limitations on the overall options of the car, the exterior and interior colors are up to the customer, and once the order is place Petrossian says it would take about a year for the car to be built.


Proof that this is a driver that was built for the track, we caught a few shots of the car at Willow Springs International Raceway this past year.

With one version meeting California emission standards, the potential for higher output is possible for other states that aren’t as strict, it all depends on the old saying: speed costs money, how fast do you want to go? But before you think this is a complete race car, there are some other built-in features that provide the creature comforts of those other high-dollar cars, namely the climate control system and the McIntosh sound system and fully stitched leather interior.

What else could you want from a 225 MPH performance car? Well, you’ll have to have your check book ready and have just a tad over $1,000,000 dollars before you can ask for one, because these cars are all custom built to your specifications. You can find out a little more and check out some videos at the GTR1 website, or contact Galpin Auto Sports if you want to get an up close and personal look. This car isn’t for everyone, and that’s just about right for the person who wants what nobody else has… so far.

About the author

Michael Harding

Michael is a Power Automedia contributor and automotive enthusiast who doesn’t discriminate. Although Mopar is in his blood, he loves any car that looks great and drives even faster.
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