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Five Hundred GT-R
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  Ford Five Hundred GT-R

  Article Image gallery (4) Specifications  
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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:2006
Source:Company press release
Last updated:March 20, 2006
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Click here to download printer friendly versionA bunch of college students stuffing a Ford GT space frame in a Ford Five Hundred body shell - and throwing in some sheetmetal from a Ford F-150 Flareside for good measure - sounds like a recipe for a Frankenstein with a blue-oval badge. It is, instead, a dramatic combination of Ford GT design cues in the body shell of a Ford Five Hundred sedan, and an engineering feat of converting a front-engine, front-wheel-drive sedan into a mid-engine, rear-wheel drive supercar. The car was designed and built by the students and staff of Washtenaw Community College, and makes its debut at the Autorama Custom Car show in Detroit today.

Washtenaw Community College's Custom Cars & Concepts program is geared to providing invaluable hands-on experience for students that aspire to build one-off, custom projects from hot rods to concept cars. The Ford Five Hundred GT-R is by far the most outrageous project the class has attempted - which is saying something. Other projects include fabricating and painting the fiberglass body shell of a 1000-hp Chevrolet Camaro funny car, a Dodge Magnum wagon featured on MTV's Cribs, and a twin-Turbo, Mustang convertible that won Ford's prestigious 2005 Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association (SEMA) design award.

For the project, Ford sent two engineering prototypes - both destined to be scrapped - to Washtenaw Community College. For Sobbry, taking a cutting wheel to the Ford Five Hundred was difficult. The CCC team eventually dissected both the Ford GT and Five Hundred to create the Five Hundred GT-R. For example, the front end features a modified Five Hundred front fascia, with larger air intakes to feed the Ford GT cooling pack immediately behind the front bumper. The radiators are vented through the fiberglass Ford GT hood panel, which is inlaid in the original Five Hundred aluminium hood.

The paint scheme is borrowed from the Ford GT, with Ford Blue offset by white Le Mans stripes on the hood and trunk, and white rocker-panel stripes with "Ford Five Hundred GT-R" script. The profile features a stock Five Hundred roof line and greenhouse. The front doors are essentially stock, while the rear doors flare out five inches. Custom fabricated rear quarter panels - constructed from sheetmetal off a Ford F-150 Flareside bed - complete the wide-body kit. The flared wheel arches wrap stock Ford GT wheels and tires: 18 X 9.0-inch front wheels with 235/45ZR18 tires; and 19 X 11.5-inch rear wheels with 315/40ZR19.

To meet the required 1,000 cubic feet of air per minute needed to produce 550 horsepower, the team replaced the rear quarter windows with custom air scoops that feed into the 5.4-liter V-8's air intakes. To help vent engine heat out of the cabin, heat extractors inspired by those on the Ford GT clamshell are incorporated into the rear deck.

For the engine swap, Custom Cars & Concepts chopped the roof structure and front-suspension bulkhead off of the Ford GT aluminium space frame. Then, the complete drivetrain, rear suspension, and rear frame members were stuffed into the cutout Five Hundred body shell. Like on the Ford GT, the radiator packs are installed just behind the front bumper. The Five Hundred front suspension and steering system were retained with modified geometry to function with the GT rear suspension.

The only engineering work that Custom Cars & Concepts did not tackle was the wiring. To complete the project, Ford technicians spliced the Ford GT powertrain and instrument modules into the Five Hundred's existing wiring harness. What's next for Custom Cars & Concepts? They are working on a 1951 Ford pickup for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Powered by a 390-horsepower, supercharged Ford V-8, naturally.

What's next for the Five Hundred GT-R? After its debut at the Autorama custom car show in Detroit, the Five Hundred GT-R will continue to be used for education, this time by Ford's Vehicle Dynamics engineers. To enhance safety for vehicle evaluation engineers, Ford recently instituted a driver training and certification program. The elite Tier 4 certified drivers in Ford Vehicle Dynamics are the only engineers permitted to perform certain extreme handling evaluations on Ford vehicles, from the Ford Focus to F-650. Tier 4 drivers, for example, are the only drivers permitted to test the Ford GT at speeds in excess of 200 mph.

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  Article Image gallery (4) Specifications