How the Ford GT Was Aerodynamically Designed

  • The Ford GT is a supercar inspired by the GT40 that famously beat Ferrari at Le Mans.
  • It's the best car Ford has ever built.
  • The design team incorporated clever features into the design that allows the Ford GT control and route air to maximize performance.

The following is a transcript of the video.

Narrator: This is the second-generation Ford GT, the most powerful car the company has ever built. It's also one of the best aerodynamically designed cars to ever be made.

Todd Willing: Hi, my name is Todd Willing. I'm global design director for trucks and SUVs at Ford Motor Company, and today, we're gonna break down the design of a project that I was part of, the Ford GT.

Narrator: We asked Todd about the aerodynamics of the car and its iconic shape. Todd: So, it's that teardrop shape, you know, coming from the front axle and really wasting away as much as possible, and then a short rear muscular haunch over the rear wheel, and they're connected by those buttresses, which creates that very, very dramatic view. It was sort of mandated, if you like, from a design point of view that we needed to include that to make it instantly recognizable as a Ford GT. Narrator: These two sections not only gave the GT its distinctive design, but excellent aerodynamic performance. But the way the design bends air to its will is sort of complex, so let's break it down, part by part. The first place air comes in contact with the GT is through the front intake. Airflow through this section is routed through the nostrils to smoothly run over the wraparound windscreen and roof line, effectively reducing drag, or the force of air pushing against the car. Remember that teardrop shape Todd mentioned earlier? A teardrop is the most efficient aerodynamic shape. It cuts through the air at the front and slowly brings it back together in the rear. This is important, because if air can't meet at the rear of the vehicle, it creates a low-pressure pocket behind the car, and that effectively pulls the car back and slows it down. The flying buttresses, or the tunnels, help channel air around its teardrop shape and over the spoiler. This creates downforce in the rear. Downforce is important to have at high speed, especially when cornering. Like a plane, the air underneath the car begins to push up, as if it were trying to take off. Downforce counters this to keep the car on the track and helps tires achieve better grip for accelerating. But not all air gets routed through the tunnels. Some of it makes its way to the vent cleverly placed below. This air is routed through the engine bay to cool off components before exhausting out the center of the taillight in the rear. But that's not the only aerodynamic device in the front.

Todd: There's a fantastic concept, what's called a keel concept, where the air splits and divides away in the floor and goes around the front wheels and exits out in the side, and you can see the scalloping in the side of the car there to allow that air to come out.


Narrator: The keel concept, popularly used on Formula 1 cars, not only generates downforce in the front, but it sends this feed of air on a journey around the car to further improve the GT's performance.

Todd: Notice the little side-splitter area that's intended to stop air from flying back underneath and controlling it in that regard. But also above that airflow out from the front wheel, there's an additional bit of sculpture, which holds the air, contains the air in that lower area, and then feeds back into another duct just in front of the rear wheel, which in turn allows another feed of air over the rear diffuser area, which is very important to the overall aerodynamic performance of the car.

Narrator: The diffuser is a tray attached to the back of the car that creates a gradually larger opening. The design of the diffuser speeds up the airflow as it exits the rear of the car. This creates negative pressure, or a vacuum, that sucks the car to the road through hard corners, tight turns, and high speeds on straightaways. All of these aerodynamic concepts and devices are integral to the design of the Ford GT. The design team was able to use these concepts and components in a way that is reminiscent of the original GT40, but more importantly, they were able to bring the GT into the modern world while making it more powerful than ever. Hi, I'm Aj, one of the producers of all things cars at Insider. If you enjoyed that video, hit subscribe for more just like it, and let us know what kind of car content you wanna see in the comments below.