Written by independent automotive journalist Steve Statham
For Ford Motor Company, the 2017-22 GT supercar has been a rolling showcase of the company’s engineering prowess and competitive spirit. It is, for all practical purposes, a street-legal race car, capable of 200+ mph top speeds while delivering otherworldly levels of handling. It can achieve 0-60 mph in 3 seconds or less and blazes through the quarter-mile in the 10-second zone. It is the fastest Ford production car ever built. Its introduction to the world was with a win at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans in the LM GTE Pro class with Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Müller behind the wheel. The win came 50 years after Ford’s first Le Mans victory, making it an especially sweet achievement.
“The GT is always the ultimate expression of Ford racing innovation, and as we know from the 1966 Le Mans through today, that means constantly raising our game for our customers as well as earning the checkered flag,” said Ed Krenz, then Ford Performance chief program engineer, upon the introduction of the 2020 model GTs.
The 2020 Frozen White Carbon Series GT featured here, offered with No Reserve at Barrett-Jackson’s 2023 Scottsdale Auction, January 21-29, is the very embodiment of that philosophy. The Carbon Series was engineered for maximum performance, all wrapped in an aerodynamic shape that delivers downforce with gravitational authority. As if that wasn’t enough, the original purchaser loaded this GT with $35,500 in options.
Ford introduced the GT Carbon Series for the 2019 model year. Carbon fiber was already used extensively throughout the Ford GT, and the Carbon Series took the benefits of this material to their logical extreme. When seeking ten-tenths performance, cutting weight is as effective as adding power, and the Carbon Series shaves nearly 40 pounds off an already trim car thanks to carbon-fiber wheels, a polycarbonate engine cover with additional venting, a titanium exhaust (that by itself took off nine pounds of weight) and titanium lug nuts. Ford even eliminated the cupholders and driver’s-side seat storage bin to eradicate every superfluous ounce. The Carbon Series truly was the lightest car in the GT lineup.
It has unique styling elements as well. The Carbon Series featured two exposed carbon-fiber stripes with matching exposed carbon-fiber A-pillars and lower body panels. Customers had a choice between four accent colors for the center stripe, Brembo brake calipers and mirror caps, and this example has the Carbon Blue Graphics Package. Among the options on this GT are the exposed carbon-fiber side-view mirror caps.
“The Ford GT Carbon Series stands out on the road with its striking carbon fiber-rich design and on the track with its athleticism,” said Hermann Salenbauch, then Ford Performance global director, upon the car’s introduction. “It is yet another example of how we can bring to life our Le Mans-winning supercar in new and exciting ways so our customers can share in that magical legacy.”
The carbon-fiber theme carried through to the interior, which featured matte carbon fiber on the center console, air register pods and door sills. The car’s racing influence is apparent through details like the F1-inspired carbon-fiber steering wheel wrapped in Alcantara with an integrated LED rev indicator and 6-point harnesses with anchors.
“This is just another example of how we listen to our customers at Ford,” said Lance Mosley, then Ford Performance marketing manager, when the Carbon Series was first revealed. “While the Ford GT Competition model appeals to hardcore racing enthusiasts, we found more customers asking for more exposed carbon fiber with the air conditioning and radio still intact. So we developed the Carbon Series to satisfy that need, while providing a distinct look.”
For the 2020 model year, Ford delivered even more performance. The titanium exhaust from Akrapovič became standard equipment. That, plus revised engine calibration to the mid-mounted 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 for a broader torque band, improved cooling, higher-energy ignition coils, gallery-cooled pistons and larger intercoolers resulted in an increase of 13 horsepower up to 660, with 550 ft/lbs of torque. The engine is backed by a 7-speed Getrag dual-clutch automatic transmission.
With the Carbon Series’ reduced weight and the added power for the 2020 model year, this GT represents the pinnacle of street-going GT performance, with the added comforts of radio, SYNC 3 and air conditioning that separate the Carbon Series from the bare-bones GT Competition Series model. Its performance is the result of leading-edge technology, yet it is also a throwback in many ways, unencumbered by all the electronic driver-assist minders that sap the fun from so many modern cars.
The Ford GT has taken the collector car community by storm the past couple years. The final Ford GT was built for the 2022 model year, so the opportunity to purchase one new from a Ford dealer has passed. With 32 actual miles, the 2020 Carbon Series GT shown here, Chassis No. L173, represents an extraordinary opportunity to obtain an untraveled example of the breed on the largest stage in the collector car world. It comes with original items that include the Window Sticker, factory production photos and a battery charger.
Every Ford GT has the potential to achieve greatness at the hand of a skilled driver. The next owner of this 2020 Carbon Series GT will have a fresh start to map out the path to greatness. See this incredible car cross the block at the 2023 Scottsdale Auction, January 21-29, 2023, at WestWorld of Scottsdale. Register to bid today.