TrackWorthy - 2017 Ford GT (7)

Ultra-exotic Ford GT Deliveries Commence in Canada

by TrackWorthy,

“Let me tell you, it’s a race car that means business.”Richard L'Abbe, Ford GT Owner
Deliveries of the new 2017 Ford GT have commenced in North America. Former late night talk show host Jay Leno took delivery of his Ford GT and received car number 12. According to Jay, Ford family members claimed the first ten cars, car No. 11 was auctioned off to raise money for charity, and Leno received the Ford GT with vehicle identification number (“VIN”) 00012. Leno was particularly keen to claim number 12 because he also has a 2005 Ford GT with VIN number 00012.

We were invited for a ride in one of the first 2017 Ford GT cars delivered in Canada, that belonging to Richard L’Abbe’s. For the occasion, we happily ventured to Calabogie Motorsports Park, about an hour west of Ottawa, Ontario. As an added bonus, all three generations of the Ford GT greeted us at the track: a 1967 Ford GT 40, manufactured from 1964-1969; a second-generation Ford GT, manufactured from 2004-2006; and the current generation 2017 Ford GT. 

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Richard L’Abbe was co-founder and CEO of Med-Eng Systems, which he started in Ottawa in 1981. He spent his professional career designing and producing lifesaving equipment. His company’s main product was a bomb disposal helmet and, eventually, a bomb disposal suit. As a sign of the extent to which L’Abbe stood behind (or in) his product, was blown up nineteen times. L’Abbe appeared quite healthy and happy at the track, so it’s probably safe to conclude that his company made a very fine product, indeed.

L’Abbe was involved in innovation and creativity throughout his career. It is little wonder why the new Ford GT captivated him from its inception.

“The love affair for me started when this car was introduced in the exact same colour as (my) car, at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show,” said Richard L’Abbe, as he stood proudly next to his new GT. “My wife and I were going to the Formula 1 race in Shanghai. One of the main reasons for me to go to the (Shanghai) auto show was to see this thing live because I hadn’t been to Detroit.” L’Abbe wanted to sit in the car to make sure he would fit — at six-foot two-and-a-half inches tall, fitting into a compact race car can prove a challenge. Although Richard fits, he is looking into a custom seat to allow him more headroom.

With a USD$450,000 MSRP, the Ford GT’s price tag is also ultra-exotic. At current exchange rates, Canadian buyers pay about CAD$650,000 to get this car on the road, including options, fees and taxes. But, one must consider these prices in relative terms. As ultra-exotics cars are concerned, the Ford GT costs about half as much as top-of-the-line exotics from Ferrari (LaFerrari), Porsche (918 Spyder) and McLaren (P1), which start around or above a CAD$1,000,000, plus options, fees and taxes. All four cars are ultra-fast and have very comparable top speeds of around 350 km/h (348 km/h for the Ford GT).
TrackWorthy - Ford GT owner Richard L'Abbe (1)

Richard L’Abbe, Ford GT Owner

Like most of the aforementioned supercars, beyond performance capabilities, the Ford GT is so exotic and sought-after because of its exclusivity. Ford received 6,506 applications for the new GT. The current plan is to produce only 1,000 GTs over the next 4 years. All 250 for 2017 and 250 for 2018 are allocated and sold out. Ford selected the first 500 owners strategically, looking for specific criteria.

“Fast forward to the summer of last year and, as you know, we all had to apply for this car, and the application was quite lengthy,” explained L’Abbe. “They wanted to know more about you, the applicant, they wanted to know what your history with Ford was, what your history with Lincoln was. Do you have a racing pedigree? Do you have a philanthropic profile? All sorts of things. And at the end, you had to submit a one-minute video of yourself. ‘Hi, I’m Richard L’Abbe, and I want to have a GT for whatever reason.’”

“So, I filled out the best I could… I sent my application in and in September [2016] I received an email back that ‘Mr L’Abbe, congratulations! You’re going to be one of the proud new owners of the Ford GT.’”

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To assist customers in personalizing their GT, Ford Performance concierge provides successful applicants with a unique order kit. The kit lets them physically piece together every aspect of their car in small-scale, including paint colors, wheel options, caliper colors, interior material samples and racing stripes.

“The Ford GT ordering kit is a critical piece in the purchase process,” Henry Ford III, global marketing manager, Ford Performance recently stated. “This high-quality kit is a hands-on tool for Ford GT customers to enhance their ordering experience. Authentic colors, finishes and materials will provide them an intimate, tactile way to discern the multitude of choices to configure their ideal supercar.”

TrackWorthy - Ford GT Order Kit

Ford GT Order Kit

All new Ford GTs are made at the at the low-volume assembly facility at Multimatic in Markham, Ontario. Also in attendance at the race track was Canadian race car driver Scott Maxwell who races for Multimatic and is one of their test and development drivers. Much of the race car and road car development of the Ford GT took place at Calabogie Motorsports Park with Maxwell behind the wheel. L’Abbe is one of the owners of Calabogie, a factor which most likely helped him on his ownership application.

“The race car in a lot of ways was simpler to develop [than the road car] because all you’re looking for is outright speed and reliability,” said Maxwell. “Whereas [with] a street car there are different compromises. It has to be a comfortable car to drive for anybody.”

When asked how many laps Maxwell has logged around Calabogie Motorsports Park in the Ford GT he responded, “We did some tests where we would do 10 laps in a whole day, it depended on what we were going after and what was going on. There were other weeks when we would have to do a 24-hour durability test where you’re putting in hundreds and hundreds of laps over a 24 hour period. For sure we’re into thousands of laps and thousands of miles.”

Logging thousands of miles in a new GT around a race track sounds like a dream job to us! We had the privilege of logging a couple of laps on the track, and we loved every minute of it. “Let me tell you, it’s a race car that means business,” L’Abbe commented. We couldn’t agree more.

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