Friday, March 2, 2007
FPV celebrates 40 years of Ford GT
The FPV GT 40th Anniversary commemorates 40 years of the Falcon GT legend, which stretches back to 1967 with the original XR Falcon GT.
Only 200 examples of the GT 40th Anniversary model will be built, each with a unique build number badge and certificate of authenticity.
All vehicles will be finished in Silhouette black with a striking gold over-body stripe kit, reminiscent of the classic GT stripe kit last seen on a locally produced Ford model with the XC Falcon Cobra Hardtop in 1978.
Gold GT lower body stripes with a '40th Anniversary' decal, accent colour treatment on the side skirt flutes and rear spoiler pillars, and special GT-P 19-inch alloy wheels with gloss black accents complete the standout exterior package.
The interior of the anniversary model is equally distinctive, with FPV sports seats finished in a combination of leather and suede, featuring silver thread highlights and an embroidered 'GT' logo.
FPV floor mats with '40th Anniversary' logo inlay match the exterior touches, while an iPod®/MP3 audio player connection, which integrates with the FPV audio system, is fitted as standard.
In addition to the unique 40th Anniversary features that transform the GT visually, FPV has also designed a new suspension package to take the handling prowess of its latest model to new heights.
The 'R-Spec' handling pack incorporates an advanced level of suspension tune, allowing customers to fully exploit the potential of the GT 40th Anniversary in track days and club sprint events.
It will also feature a higher capacity oil cooler on automatic transmission models, which increases the efficiency of the transmission cooling system under the extreme conditions and temperatures often experienced on race tracks.
"We're constantly monitoring the feedback of existing and potential FPV customers and a track pack version has been high on customer wish lists since the launch of the first FPV GT in 2003," said Prodrive AT Asia-Pacific Managing Director, Bryan Mears.
"Australia has a rich history of vehicle owners wanting to explore the potential of their cars in the safety of a race track.
"The new R-Spec package will allow drivers of this unique limited edition model to extract the best possible performance out of their vehicle."
Mr Mears said a critical element of the engineering of the R-Spec package was the need to optimise the race track potential of this special FPV model, while not compromising the ride and handling balance of the vehicle.
"This package is aimed at those people who want a daily driver that can also mix it with the best at a club sprint event."
Due to go on sale in April, the FPV GT 40th Anniversary edition will be available with either a six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission, with a recommended retail price of $65,110*.
*Pricing excludes dealer delivery and statutory charges
R-Spec handling package
Prodrive Chassis Engineering Manager Peter Ford said his team were confident they have delivered a handling package that stayed faithful to the design brief.
"We set out to create a dual purpose car; one that could be driven to the track, be competitive in a club event, and then comfortably carry everyone home at the end of the day.
"Fortunately, we had an outstanding base vehicle to start with. The GT already had great handling levels and the challenge was to find ways of maximising its inherent handling characteristics, while retaining a balanced set-up.
"The team sat down and looked at a number of options. Racing tyres and a competition spring set-up were two popular options early, but were dismissed due to the prohibitive cost of both.
"Research from customers showed us the cost of racing tyres, particularly replacing them, was out of their reach.
"And a customised racing spring set-up - the cost of which would have been significant - would have negative impact on the ride and handling of the vehicle, while also compromising tyre wear and potentially adding more cost."
Ford said his team sat down with engineers from Delphi, which supplies dampers for the FPV range.
"We had been thinking there was enormous tuning potential within the standard damper set-up, and the Delphi engineers were confident a sportier level of suspension tune was easily available.
"The traditional approach to twin-tube damper tuning is to let the compression, or base, valve handle damper forces in the compression direction and to let the rebound, or piston, valve handle the rebound damping forces.
"By allowing the piston to handle more load in the compression direction we learnt we could share the damping forces by both the piston and the foot valve.
"This had two immediate benefits, namely reduced valve lag and increased valve response," Ford said.
The secret to the improved handling characteristics of the R-Spec package is the revised balance of pressures between the piston and base valve, resulting in a more progressive transition to disc opening speeds.
In addition, Ford's team adopted a pyramid disc stack on the compression side of the piston, using disc diameters from 32mm to 27mm, as well as tuning the size of the rebound spring and piston orifices.
"The sum total of those changes is a suspension tune that is much more digressive and in line with tuning techniques used by prestige European marques costing much more than an FPV," Ford said.
"We have delivered a suspension tune that offers a significant improvement in diagonal pitch, provides a much more even footprint in power-on situations and with a much sharper turn-in response.
"Critically, we have maintained an impressive level of ride comfort. While the R-Spec package picks up more road irregularities, we have maintained the supple ride that has earned FPV cars an enviable ride and handling reputation."
Track pack performs
While the team was happy with its outcomes, the real test for the R-Spec handling pack came in the hands of long-time FPV test pilot and V8 Supercar veteran John Bowe.
The two-time Bathurst champion gave the R-Spec package its final approval in a test day at the demanding Winton Raceway.
"The initial impression of the GT is one of containment. The car feels tighter, sharper; far less inclined to roll and exhibits a big improvement in diagonal weight transfer," Bowe said.
"Another strong positive is the difference the package makes to steering feel, creating a far more instantaneous response with added weight and feel.
"And the road ride is very good; firm, but not harsh and it handles bigger bumps amazingly well."
Employing the 19-inch alloy wheels and 245/35 ZR19 Dunlop SP Sport Maxx tyres that come standard with the GT 40th Anniversary edition, Bowe recorded a highly competitive 1:43.10-second lap time around Winton.
While lap times are relative to the day and the driver, recent independent testing of an FPV GT puts the times recorded by Bowe - and the overall handling improvements achieved by the R-Spec package - into perspective.
Fellow Ford V8 Supercar driver, Warren Luff, completed a 1:46.05-second lap of Winton Raceway in a standard FPV GT during last year's Performance Car of the Year testing by Motor magazine.
"The R-Spec package clearly delivers what the engineers set out to achieve," Bowe said.
"For those customers that want to indulge in track days, but only have one car that has to multi-task, this would fit the bill perfectly."