In its more than 100 years in the business of building cars, Ford Motor Company has turned out a good number of sports cars. As a company, it ranks among the largest and has contributed immensely to the growth of the car industry. Taking a walk down memory lane, you will meet so many iconic models that are a testament to Ford’s engineering proficiency.
We are talking about advanced and well-built sports cars that set performance benchmarks for the competition to follow. Hardcore racers like the 1960s GT40 that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans for 4 consecutive years, including a 1-2-3 win in 1966. Joining forces with Shelby American in a romance that began in the ’60s, Ford has spawned a good number of high-performance variants of the iconic Ford Mustang. Let’s walk together back in time and check out Ford’s flagship sports cars over the years.
10 1967: Shelby GT500
The 1967 GT500, one of the ’60’s specials, was the first big-block Mustang that Ford built with the help of Carroll Shelby. Displacing a massive 7 liters, the monstrous power plant under the hood churned out 355 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque.
It could hold its own against the competition with such numbers even when it wasn’t designed to be a race car. The GT500 could go over 150 mph and had an estimated top speed of 185 mph. In addition to this, the ’67 GT500 was the last model built in the original Shelby factory, and it marked the Mustang’s right of passage from pony car to muscle car.
9 1984-1986: RS200
When FIA established group B in 1982, it gave rise to the creation of some of the greatest road-going rally cars in the world. Among the state-of-the-art vehicles that sprouted up were the Audi Sport Quattro, the Lancia Delta S4, and of course, the Ford RS200. The RS200 was uniquely designed and sported a fiberglass body, a mid-mounted engine, front-mounted transmission, and a 4-wheel-drive system.
It was purpose-built for racing and had a near-perfect weight distribution that helped handling. Unfortunately, production ended after a series of fatal accidents prompted the FIA to discontinue Group B racing. The RS200 had a top speed of 140 mph and could hit 60 mph in 6.1 seconds which was pretty impressive then. Additionally, the 1803 cc turbocharged Ford-Cosworth engined churned out 250 hp in the road-legal models and up to 450 hp in the racing versions.
8 1987-1992: Sierra RS500 Cosworth
To gain dominance in Group A racing in Europe, Ford turned to long-time partner Cosworth to create the Sierra RS Cosworth, a high-performance version of the ordinary Sierra. From the 5545 RS Cosworths made, 500 units were sent over to Aston Martin Tickford to be turned into the RS500 Cosworth.
The new RS500 had some cosmetic differences from the RS Cosworth and was powered by an updated engine for performance. The Cosworth YBD engine churned out 224 hp, and pushed the car to a 150 mph top speed. As indicated by the name, only 500 units were built and meant for sale in the UK, and they were all right-hand drive.
7 1992-1996: Escort RS Cosworth
To succeed the Sierra RS Cosworth, Ford created the Escort RS Cosworth, a rally version of the fifth generation of Ford Escort. Produced between 1992 and 1996, it shared a chassis and mechanicals with its predecessor, while the body panels came from the standard Mk5 Escort.
Production of the first 2500 units was to secure the FIA Group A accreditation, after which Ford set out to build an easier-to-drive second version. Armed with a 1993 cc Cosworth YBT turbo l4, it churned out 224 hp and could reach a top speed of 150 mph. Although it did not win the World Rally Championship for which it was designed, it did manage to win a few events as a Group A car before it was axed.
6 2000-2004: Mustang Cobra R
After making the first appearance in 1993 and another in 1995, the Mustang Cobra R made another appearance in 2000 as the fastest factory Mustang ever. With the standard Cobra’s absence for the 2000 model year, the Cobra R became the only high-performance Mustang from SVT.
The hand-built engine provided it with 385 hp @ 5700 rpm and could hit top a 170 mph top speed. Priced at $54,995, the 2000 Cobra R had a limited production run of 300 vehicles designed as race-ready machines in a road-legal package.
5 2005-2006: Ford GT
The design of the 2005-2006 Ford GT was inspired by the original GT40 of the ’60s, although the former was conspicuously larger than its predecessor. Developed with help from Caroll Shelby, the Ford GT was publicly unveiled in 2003 and built as part of the 100th anniversary of the company.
Public reception of the reincarnated 4-times LeMans winner was positive, and with demand far exceeding supply, the cars commanded premium prices at the initial stage. Backed by 550 ponies, the 2-seat GT is a supercar that offers exhilarating speeds of up to 205 mph, agile handling, and a driving experience that justifies its price tag.
4 2008-2009: Shelby Mustang GT500KR
To mark the 40th anniversary of the GT500KR in 2008 and to match the 1968 models, a production run of 1571 vehicles was planned for 2008 and 2009. Each KR (King of the road) started as a Shelby GT500 before being touched by the magic wand of Shelby Automobiles.
Sporting a carbon fiber hood styled after the 1968 KR, and injected with 540 hp and 510 lb-ft of torque, the “king” had a top speed of 155mph and could clear the quarter-mile in 12.1 seconds.. The KR moniker was apt, and despite the high sticker price of $79,995, enthusiasts fell over themselves for the opportunity to buy one.
3 2013-2016: Shelby GT500
As the generation that saw some of the best and most powerful Mustangs was drawing to an end, Ford created another masterpiece. Ending the fifth generation on a bang, Ford released the 2013-2014 GT500, which paraded all the technology gains of the previous 7 years.
The boys at SVT outdid themselves to create what Ford claimed was the most powerful production V8 mill in the world. When it landed, it packed the fury of 662 ponies and 631 lb-ft of torque instead of the “ordinary” 650 hp and 600 lb-ft that the development team targeted. Additionally, this beast maxed out at 180 mph.
2 2017: Ford GT
When Ford decided to mark the 50th anniversary of their total victory at the Le Mans in 1966, many gearheads expected a paint-and-tape Mustang. But the automaker had other plans. What was unveiled to the public was a radical model with a razor-sharp design and an insane weight-to-power ratio to match.
The 2017 Ford GT sports a design inspired by Le Mans and F1 prototypes, a skyscraping wing, and a twin-turbocharged 3.5 liter V6 producing 657 HP. For speed, this monster maxes out at 216 mph and can do the 0-60 in 2.9 seconds.
1 2020-2022: Shelby GT500KR
Unveiled at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction in January, the King of the Road makes a return for Shelby American’s 60th anniversary. Unlike the 1st and 2nd iterations of the GT500KR, of which more than 1000 units were produced, the latest version will have a limited run of 225 units.
The 900+ hp Mustang comes with a sticker price of $127,895, or you fork over $54,995 for the KR package if you have your own 2020-2022 GT500. Looking regal with a vented dry carbon fiber hood and carbon fiber body components, the first of the latest “Kings” was auctioned in January for $700,000.
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