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Ford Performance Vehicles: How the Blue Oval is reviving its glory days | Opinion

Ford is building some of its most memorable cars at the moment, including the stunning Mustang GTD.

There are hundreds of cars revealed every year that we write about here, and only a handful elicit the kind of reaction the Ford Mustang GTD did when it was revealed recently.

I want to drive it - now. 

I want to drive any car, I love cars of all shapes and sizes. But the Mustang GTD is something special. 

It’s the most extreme, hardcore and, frankly, outrageous Mustang the Blue Oval has ever built. Directly transferring racing technology to a road car with the express purpose of taking the fight to European sports cars like the Porsche 911 and Aston Martin Vantage. And that’s not hyperbole or marketing spin, it may be called a Mustang but it actually shares little in common with the upcoming Mustang we’ll get in showrooms. It has a unique engine, unique gearbox (in the rear of the car), unique suspension and unique (and complicated) aerodynamics.

It gives you the feeling that the folks at Ford HQ watched Ford v Ferrari and decided to start preparing a sequel a few decades from now. 

But the Mustang GTD is just the latest in a long line of really, again to be frank, just really cool vehicles. Ones that stand out even in today’s crowded marketplace. 

Vehicles like the revived GT supercar, the global Mustang, then the re-born Bronco and our favourite here in Australia, the Ranger Raptor. It says a lot about Ford that the Ranger Raptor is into its second generation and still has no true, direct competitor. Other brands have tried to create their own ‘premium’ or ‘more rugged’ utes but none have managed to match the blend of capability and performance the Raptor captures.

Under the leadership of Jim Farley, who took over as global CEO in 2020, Ford has continued to push the boundaries like the Mustang GTD and Raptor. He’s also managed to strike a balance between the needs of the future and demands of the present, investing in electric cars without giving up on the internal combustion engine.

The Mustang Mach-E is a prime example of Ford’s current gold age. Sure, Mustang purists are up in arms that it’s both electric and an SUV, but you know what isn’t electric or an SUV? The Ford Mustang. 

The Mustang, as we’ve come to know and love it, remains a coupe and convertible powered by either a 5.0-litre V8 or a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. But investing in a ‘Mustang’ that appeals to the Millennials, the original Mustang is still exactly what Gen X and Baby Boomers still want.

The Mustang GTD is the antithesis of the Mach-E and most car companies these days would never commit the time, resources and finances that Ford did to this limited-run model - and they’re worse off for it. Sure, it will only make a few people with US$300,000 ultimately happy, but the halo effect of the GTD cannot be underestimated.

How many people are Ford fans because of cars like the Falcon GT-HO? And how many people actually owned one? I’d guess there’s a fairly large gap between those two numbers. Cars like the Mustang GTD, Bronco and Ranger Raptor will inspire a new generation of Ford fanatics that will want to own one as soon as they have the money.

And the arrival of the Mustang GTD also leaves the door open for a V8-powered Ranger Raptor. Or, more specifically, a Ranger Desert Racer. That’s because the GTD, like the GT supercar program and the V8-powered Bronco Desert Racer, are all partnerships between Ford and Multimatic; a Canadian engineering business with links to both motor racing and the automotive industry.

Clearly Ford wants to maintain the relationship it has with Multimatic, which physically built the Ford GT road cars (and racing cars) at its Canadian facility, where it will also build the Mustang GTD. That means it will continue to look for new projects and has Ford Performance racing boss Mark Rushbrook has told Australian media on multiple occasions that the Bronco and Raptor are so similar that it would be very easy to create a ‘Ranger Desert Racer’ - swapping the 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 for a 5.0-litre V8 and adding racing-grade suspension and similar parts.

That would be yet another car that would inspire a new generation of Blue Oval tragics and cement this era as a glorious one for Ford.