Historically, I have to admit to always looking at the practice of adding traditional racing liveries to modern supercars a bit sideways. For a long time, it struck me as little more than rich guys and gals playing dress-up. More precisely, that used to be the way I felt until 2006, when I fell under the same spell. That's when I spent a few days at the wheel of the then-new first-generation Ford GT in powder blue and orange Gulf Oil livery. That car just didn't reorient my worldview as a freshly minted full-time car journalist, it reset my personal barometer of cool. And so it is with surprising anticipation that I look forward to this 2019Gulf Heritage, a special-edition model being unveiled at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on Friday at California's WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Set for a two-year production run, the Gulf look is no mere wrap, it's a proper multi-step paint scheme that follows on the heels of last year's Race Red and white 1967 Heritage Edition. That limited-edition special was an homage to the all-American racing team of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt who won Le Mans in a similarly attired GT40 Mark IV. In turn, it followed the black and silver '66 Heritage special paying tribute to Bruce McLaren and Chris Ammon's Le Mans-winning GT40 Mark II revealed in 2016.
New for this 2019 Ford GT Gulf is an exposed carbon fiber accent package that includes No. 9 graphics on the doors and hood, plus a "ghosted image" on the door panels of the cabin. Next year, 2020 Ford GT models specced in Gulf Heritage livery will wear No. 6, in acknowledgement of the same car's 1969 Le Mans win wearing that number.
It isn't just paint that marks out the Gulf Heritage model, the special Ford GT receives specific 20-inch forged aluminum wheels finished in high-gloss dark stainless and black lug nuts. The latter shroud matching orange brake calipers, which, in turn, are set off by silver mirror caps.
Inside, the nostalgia play on this 647-horsepower supercar continues, highlighted by a new seat pattern designed to evoke the look of the buckets in the 1968 Le Mans winner. The cabin is slathered in black Alcantara, with blue and orange stitching carrying on the theme, as well as dark stainless trim applied to the x-brace, door panel HVAC vents and instrument panel. The other HVAC ducts, center console and door sill plates are all finished in visible carbon. As you'd expect of a vehicle like this, a serialized plaque is also part of the program.
Pricing for the 2019 Ford GT Gulf Heritage livery hasn't been announced, but it's likely to be in the neighborhood of a cool half-million dollars.
I have yet to have the privilege of driving the new Ford GT, but if that ever changes, I hope my opportunity comes finished in this Gulf Heritage look. Seeing this fabled powder blue and orange paint scheme applied to the gloriously angular second-generation Ford GT has me feeling wistful for the previous incarnation, which itself was designed to evoke sentimentality.
As it turns out, cyclical nostalgia is real, and it's a powerful force.