Modern materials add a retro touch to the Ford GT '66 Heritage Edition

We chat with Barb Whalen, Ford chief designer for colors and materials, about NASA, Alcantara and other unexpected inspirations for this $400,000 supercar.

Emme Hall Former editor for CNET Cars
I love two-seater, RWD convertibles and own a 2004 Mazdaspeed Miata for pavement fun and a lifted 2001 Miata for pre-running. I race air-cooled Volkswagens in desert races like the Mint 400 and the Baja 1000. I have won the Rebelle Rally, seven-day navigational challenge, twice and I am the only driver to compete in an EV, the Rivian R1T.
Emme Hall
3 min read

For those with a passion for racing legends, you can now order a Ford GT '66 Heritage Edition, its design paying homage to the GT40 MkII podium sweep at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and the win by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in the No. 2 car.

And while you may be anticipating the powder-blue-and-orange Gulf livery, which did adorn later GT40 Le Mans cars, the 1966 cars sported black bodies with silver racing stripes.

2017 Ford GT Heritage Edition

As such, the '66 Heritage edition gives you a choice of gloss or matte Shadow Black paint with silver racing stripes and the No. 2 hood and door graphics. The wheels will be 20-inch forged aluminum wheels in a gold satin clearcoat. Watch out, Mr. Trump.

The interior features leather-wrapped, carbon-fiber seats, instrument panel, pillars, steering wheel and headliner. Expect to find exposed matte carbon fiber inside as well as some gold appliques on the instrument panel and paddle shifters.

With eight different paint choices, eight difference race stripe options, five Brembo brake caliper color choices, and three different finish options to the exterior front, rear and side carbon fiber, it's possible to have 960 different combinations, and that doesn't even consider the four interior color options or 10 wheel options. Ford will produce only 1,000 examples of the supercar, so it's possible for each one to be unique.

2017 Ford GT Heritage Edition

Form follows function in the Ford GT when it comes to materials. Barb Whalen, the chief designer at Ford for colors and materials, said her team measured the weight of everything. "Several considerations came into play and lightweight was one of the highest factors."

Ford went so far as to procure an actual spacesuit from NASA to study its materials, but in the end Whalen chose Alcantara for the interior, not only for its lighter weight but also for its durability and grippiness. While you may slide around on a leather seat, Alcantara offers a bit more friction and keeps the driver in place better.

Whalen points out that carbon fiber appears throughout the interior. "It is not decorative. It is a low-gloss carbon fiber. It's on your instrument panel, it's on your doors, it's on your floor. It is there structurally for the lightest weight vehicle possible and the most durable...and it looks really cool!" Low-gloss is used exclusively throughout the cabin to help cut down any glare that would impede the driver's vision.

On the exterior, carbon fiber is offered in high or low gloss along the lower cladding. There are four different options for 20-inch carbon-fiber wheels, or you can choose among six one-piece forged aluminum 20-inch wheels.

Whalen kept with classic exterior color choices. "This is a race car to be driven on the road. So you're not going to be putting pinks and purples that are not the classic race car colors, but we wanted a modern twist."

The Ford GT '66 Heritage Edition is a throwback to the Le Mans of yore

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This modern twist comes out in the color options of Liquid Gray, Liquid Red and the much acclaimed Liquid Blue. "These colors aren't trendy, because Ford GT isn't a trendy car," says Whalen. "It is a classic -- a veritable race car for the road."

But what of the well-known powder-blue Gulf livery? Well, the GT is customizable, but there currently is no light blue paint option available.

Unfortunately, the Heritage Edition will be available in limited quantities for the 2017 model year. But you can still personalize your GT, if you have the scratch for a $400,000-plus supercar, that is.