There's not much that enthusiasts don't like about the Ford GT. Supercar performance and timeless beauty at $150,000 is hard to knock.
But press them hard enough and they probably would ask for a removable roof to experience the open air as the 550 supercharged horses thrust the GT's iconic body down a winding road.
As it turns out, before the GT was publicly revealed, someone at Ford Motor Co. was thinking the same thing. That someone is Special Vehicle Team engineering supervisor Kip Ewing.
While working on the GT's launch, Ewing started sketching a roadster version of the car in his spare time. His vision found its way to Ford's SEMA Technology Initiative, a program used to promote the aftermarket potential of Ford vehicles to Specialty Equipment Market Association members.
The ideas that most impress executives are built for SEMA's annual show, and Ewing's creation passed all the tests.
To build the roadster that Ford named GTX1 (after the 1966 Sebring-winning GTX1 roadster), it partnered with Genaddi Design Group Inc., of Manitowoc, Wis., a design and metal-shaping company experienced in cutting roofs off of expensive exotics.
The GTX1 uses an innovative roof system that relies on four individual body-colored panels. The removable, puzzle-style roof allows the car to morph from coupe to wearing a Targa-like top similar to that on the Acura NSX to full convertible.
Even with all four plates locked into place, the outer panels can be propped up to vent the interior for less sunny motoring applications.
Also like the NSX, all of the GTX1's panels can be stored in the vehicle when not in use.
Like many exotic droptops, the redesigned rear clamshell engine cover features two buttresses that flow rearward from the seatbacks while maintaining the view from the cockpit into the engine bay.
The result is one heck of a looker, sure to garner its fair share of admirers. Says Ford's SVT Director Hau Thai-Tang, "The Ford GTX1 project is a great example of manufacturers working together with the aftermarket to stretch the boundaries and investigate potential design and product innovation."
As supportive and enthusiastic as Thai-Tang may sound, there are no plans to offer a GT roadster from the factory.
But Genaddi Design Group will perform the roadster conversion for about $38,000.