My Car Quest

September 28, 2020

Ford GTX-1: A Tale of Woe Yet a Good Looking Car

by Wallace Wyss –

Photos by Doug Kneis of his Ford GTX-1.

Back in 2004 I decided to do a book on the upcoming Ford GT which was previewed by a concept called GT40. Ford didn’t realize they had inadvertently sold the name GT40 so couldn’t use that name on the upcoming production car.

Brian Winer, Al Axelrod and I wrote the first half of the book on the original GT40s of the Sixties and then waited for an invitation to Ford’s long lead press conference on the new car.

And waited…And waited.

Ford GTX1

Ford GTX1

Alas the closest we had come to it was at the end of Monterey Car Week when I stumbled across two being gassed up in a gas station. The engineers driving them told us the cars would be shown to the press the next day. So we did what any enterprising reporters would do. We went uninvited. Oh, there was a spot of bother at the entrance, but I just gave the guard the business cards the engineers had given me.

At the event which had many famous people including Carroll Shelby, and several ’60s era Ford GT40 racers, we prowled around but every time some official tried to kick us out, we started giving away some previous Ford GT books I’d published.

Ford GTX1

It might haven been there they mentioned an open version. Now Ford did not plan an open version. They knew going in how many they were going to make, over 4000, but no chassis were set aside from open versions. But somewhere we learned Kip Ewing, a talented engineer on their team, had drawn a design and combined forces with an outsider named, Mark Gerrish to make an open conversion called the GTX-1.

Ford GTX1

The car was shown at the SEMA show and generated orders. Then came the problems. It leaked but that’s par for the course for converted cars. Apparently it was solid, no cowl shake. But Garrish’s production capacity was drowned by the orders. I began to meet owners who were quite irate that their cars had been there for months, they’d fly there and only to find mileage had accumulated yet no cutting had begun.

Ford GTX1

Ford of course said it was not a car they made and backed off though it was at Ford sponsored showings of the Ford GT that they had encouraged fans of the new car to see the GTX-1 when it was going to be at SEMA*. Actually this has happened before in the auto industry–when Ferrari refused to make the body style of the 275GTB in a spyder version, one dealer, Mr. Luigi Chinetti, bought ten coupes, then hired Ferrari’s in-house body builder, Scagliettti, to cut them down into spyders, Enzo Ferrari was a bit miffed as their 275GTS looked weak compared to the voluptuous Scaglietti-wrought version. Now each of the ten or so cut cars is worth millions, proving that a winning design is a winning design no matter who does it.

Ford GTX1

I lost track of how the battle was going between Genaddi Design, where Gerrish worked, and their customers. I gather between 50 and 200 cars were started, I don’t know how many were finished. I was shocked when I went to a Ferrarichat.com website devoted to the Ford GT in August 2020 and found owners of unfinished cars were offered pieces to finish the cars, these kits running over $25,000. I was banished from the Ford GT Forum for daring to print the truth in Car & Driver about a flaw in the regular coupe, a flaw quickly corrected. The Forum manager thought telling the truth would lower the value of the cars. Wrong, the ’05-’06 is one of the few sports cars built after 2000 that is valued at far above its new car price.

Ford GTX1 engine

I was spared further recriminations from the fiery founder of the site, Dan Bonyhadi, after he met an untimely demise at a firing range, March 21, 2009. It was listed as an accident.

 

 

Ferraichat.com in their American Muscle section, has the URL showing the offer made by the car cutters to owners of unfinished cars, an offer which I consider insulting since each owner had already paid a deposit. Read it here.

Ford GTX1

All that this was water well under the bridge by mid-August 2020 when I photographed a jet black one zoom by at a Malibu Car Show, I have to say it is still a handsome design…

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

 
 
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss, co-author of Ford GT40 and the New Ford GT reports the book is still available including a 20″ x 30″ oil painting on canvas of the GTX-1 rear view. Write malibucarart@gmail.com.

 

Update: Only 14 years after riding in the original GTX-1 prototype Wyss saw this production version in Malibu and made a painting. For details on canvas prints write malibucarart@gmail.com

Ford GTX1

*There is not just one configuration. According to ConceptCarz.

The X1 roadster features an innovative roof system of four individual hard panels. The panels can be configured as a coupe, t-top, or full convertible. Even with all the panels installed, the outer panels can be locked into a vent position. Plus, the panels are painted in the same Valencia Yellow featuring Tungsten Silver stripes; therefore, as a coupe, it doesn’t lose any of its design appeal. And, X1 drivers won’t be caught in the rain because all four panels can be stored inside the vehicle for easy access.

The Ford GTX1’s rear clamshell covering the engine has been redesigned to feature two buttresses that flow rearward from the seatbacks. Without the need for a backlight due to its open-top configuration, the view into the engine bay could have gone away, but Ewing knew the importance of showcasing the 550-horsepower 5.4L supercharged V-8.

Ford Logo

Summary
Ford GTX-1: A Tale of Woe Yet a Good Looking Car
Article Name
Ford GTX-1: A Tale of Woe Yet a Good Looking Car
Description
Kip Ewing, a talented engineer on the Ford GT team, had drawn a design and combined forces with an outsider named, Mark Gerrish to make an open conversion called the Ford GTX-1.
Author

Comments

  1. Wallace Wyss (the author) provided us with this painting showing the GTX-1 he saw in Malibu. For information on prints write malibucarart@gmail.com

    Ford GTX1

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