Ford rolled out three new performance models in Detroit last week and more are on the way, including a new Focus RS in less than two weeks time and 12 in total by 2020. With this new found focus (no pun intended) on bringing fun back to the Ford lineup, the Blue Oval has amalgamated all performance activities under one roof. SVT, ST, RS, and Ford Racing will all be under the purview of the newly formed Ford Performance and its new director, Dave Pericak.
Dave is no newbie when it comes to Ford’s performance vehicles. He worked on the last and current generation Mustang as chief engineer. Even at home, Dave has three different generations of Ford’s pony car ranging from a 1968 Mustang model he restored himself to the first car he ever bought new, a 2002 Mustang GT Convertible. But, the true daddy of them all is his Boss 302 Laguna Seca.
We had a chance to sit down with the newly appointed director of Ford Performance at the North American International Auto Show, the same day of Ford’s big reveals, to ask him some questions.
Mark Stevenson: Three big reveals today. GT’s back…
Dave Pericak: In a big way!
MS: Not in cylinder count, but in every other big way. We also see Raptor back in a big way except for cylinder count. Then we see GT350R and that’s the only V8 on the show stand. Is this going to be a trend going forward? Could we potentially see a performance six-cylinder Mustang in the future?
DP: Our customers, right now, are not ready to go without a V8 in the Mustang. That’s okay and we will continue that.
I don’t know if it was conceivable five years ago to have a V6 EcoBoost putting out more than 600 horsepower. So, I think the future is really bright where we go with our engine technology. Where’s it going to go with Mustang? We’ll have to see.
What we do know is that EcoBoost is a fantastic engine, it’s been doing great for us on all fronts, and this year every model will have an EcoBoost in it. So, it was only right that the GT was going to boast the biggest, baddest EcoBoost we’ve ever done.
MS: Why not EcoBoost an eight-cylinder for your halo car? You said ‘we want to EcoBoost everything’ at Ford. What caused Ford to put an EcoBoost V6 in the GT instead of a boosted V8?
DP: We could go on for hours about that discussion. Think about it — the GT is all about efficiency. Lightweighting, aerodynamics, and just overall efficiency.
MS: I thought it was about beating Ferrari?
DP: Well we’re gonna do that — more efficiently! But, if you think about it, if you can get a V6 that weighs less than a V8 to put out more than 600 horsepower, with the carbon fibre tub and the aluminum bits and everything else that we’re doing, you’re going to have one of the best — I’m hoping some day I’ll be able to say the best — power-to-weight ratios of any production car that’s ever been produced. Lamborghini, Ferrari, all of them.
So, then you ask, why would you put in a V8? or why would you put in a V12? If you’re going to get the type of power and torque that we’re going to get (from the V6 EcoBoost) and we’re going to continue to lightweight that car, the power-to-weight ratio is going to be just — crazy!
MS: A six-cylinder engine isn’t considered to be an incredibly premium engine. Dodge has the Viper with a V10. Chevrolet has the Corvette with a V8. How do you sell a V6 to someone in your halo car without solely saying it has 600 horsepower?
DP: We’re educating everyone about EcoBoost. We’ve been doing that throughout the last couple of years as we did with the F-150 when it was first introduced. People asked, “How are you going to sell an EcoBoost F-150?” It’s one of the highest take-rate engines in that truck now.
That engine [in the GT] is a race proven engine. We have a Daytona Prototype that’s running with IMSA. The first year out we won three races, one of which was 12 Hours of Sebring, a pretty prestigious race.
Before we had the slogan “Go Further With Ford” we used to have “Bold Moves”. Well, we just made a bold move by putting an EcoBoost in our supercar.
MS: Can you say the same engine is going back to Sebring with a different wrapper?
DP: Wouldn’t you love me to say that?
This is going to be a production car and that’s what we’re showing everybody today. We aren’t showing you a concept. Literally what you saw today is the production car.
MS: How did you keep the GT such a secret?
DP: That was not easy. We basically had to do it in a private location within one of our buildings with restricted access. The team has been very small, meeting at off-hours. We’ve been doing a lot of things, even within the company, to keep it a secret.
MS: One of the most noticeable visible attributes on the GT is its C-pillars. Audi has the blades on the R8. They’re visually appealing but also have a function. What is the function of the Ford GT C-pillar design?
DP: I cannot wait for the day I can tell you what the function of that is.
DP: I will tell you they’re functional. That’s all I can tell you.
MS: Is there an aero impact with those?
DP: I would love to share that information with you. But, I can tell you that everything we’ve done on the car has been to reduce drag and improve downforce. That was our mantra. We weren’t going to do something if it didn’t reduce drag and improve downforce.
We’ve got a great design team. They are car enthusiasts. What you see is the result of everyone working together to build a very functional machine. It’s gorgeous — but, it’s very functional.