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Jay Leno Receives His 2005 Ford GT




By: Brad Nevin | Ford Communications Network

Comedian Jay Leno gives a "thumbs-up" sign from behind the wheel of his new 2005 Ford GT. Leno, host of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno," says the 550-horsepower, 200-plus mph GT supercar is "faster than fast." Leno is one of the first drivers in the world to purchase and take delivery of their Ford GT. For more information on the GT, visit BURBANK, Calif., August 10, 2004 -- Comedian Jay Leno, one of the pre-eminent car collectors in America, took delivery of one of the first production 2005 Ford GT supercars yesterday, becoming the first person in California to buy the 550-horsepower Ford GT. Leno, better known as host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” has been following the progress of the Ford GT program for some time, delivering a prototype of the car at an auction last year and writing a story on the supercar for “Popular Mechanics” magazine.

Leno is now the owner of 2005 Ford GT chassis number 12, certified by Ford as the second 2005 Ford GT offered for sale to the public. (Ford reserved the first nine cars for internal use). Jon Shirley, a retired Microsoft executive, took delivery of the first publicly-sold Ford GT (chassis number 11) last week in Kent, Washington. Shirley won the right to the first Ford GT by being the highest bidder at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance auction in August 2003.

Leno’s car was delivered to him at the NBC Studios by Jim O’Connor, Group Vice President, North America Marketing, Sales and Service, and Steve Lyons, President, Ford Division and vice president, Ford Motor Company. Also on hand was Bert Boeckmann of Galpin Ford in North Hills, the dealership which sold the car to Leno.

Jay Leno, who's used to signing an autograph or two, looks admiringly at the autographs of workers who assembled his new 2005 Ford GT. The workers turned the table on Leno, signing the underside of the trunk lid for the comedian, an avid car collector. The car was built with Leno’s choice of color (red with white stripes) and options (McIntosh Radio, lightweight BBS wheels, and grey painted Brembo brake calipers). Each Ford GT is powered by a hand-built all-aluminum 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 producing 550 horsepower and 500 lb.-ft. of torque. With a top speed of 205 mph and an MSRP of $139,995, it’s the fastest and most expensive production car ever to wear the Ford oval.

“The Ford GT has the cleanest, sexiest, most attractive lines of any GT-type race car,” Leno wrote in Popular Mechanics’ July 2004 issue. “A lot of these new cars -- even supercars like the Ferrari Enzo -- don’t emotionally move you the way a Ford GT’s shape does.”

Leno’s first ride in a Ford GT was in a prototype with racing legend Jackie Stewart at the wheel last year at Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca in Monterey, before he took a few laps of his own. “It was a hoot to drive. It’s very fast,” Leno said.

“We at Ford are proud of the 2005 Ford GT,” said O’Connor. “This new car brings back the same kind of excitement that ran through our company in the sixties after that 1-2-3 finish of Ford GT40s at LeMans in 1966. We’re very pleased that Jay has decided to add this American classic to his impressive car collection.”

Steve Lyons, President, Ford Division, hands a plaque to Jay Leno, host of NBC's "The Tonight Show," commemorating Leno's purchase of one of the very first 2005 Ford GT supercars. More on the GT

The Ford GT is inspired by the car that roared into the hearts and minds of enthusiasts everywhere during the 1960s. The original GT project and cars were spearheaded by then-company Chairman and CEO Henry Ford II. His goal was to change racing history. With these cars, generally referred to as GT40s because of the roof height of 40 inches from the ground, Ford won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four years in a row from 1966 through 1969. Over its racing history, the Ford GT won all of the world’s major endurance races and brought World Sports Car Championships to Ford in 1966 and 1967 plus the World Manufacturers’ Championship in 1966 and 1968.

While the GT and its historic predecessor share an almost identical silhouette, every dimension, curve and line of the new car is a unique reinterpretation of the original. The new car is more than 18 inches longer and stands nearly four inches taller.

As on the historic race car, the Ford GT aluminum body panels are unstressed. Instead of the steel or honeycomb-composite tubs used in the 1960s, the Ford GT team developed an all-new aluminum space frame as the foundation. The front fenders curve over 18-inch wheels and Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires. In the tradition of original Ford GT racers, the doors are cut into the roof. Prominent on the leading edge of the rear quarter panel are functional cooling scoops that channel fresh air to the engine. The rear wheel wells, filled with 19-inch wheels and tires, define the rear of the car, while the accent line from the front cowl rejoins and finishes the car’s profile at the integrated “ducktail” spoiler.

The chassis features unequal-length control arms and coil-over spring-damper units to allow for its low profile. Braking is handled by four-piston aluminum Brembo monoblock calipers with cross-drilled and vented rotors at all four corners.

The interior design incorporates the novel “ventilated seats” and instrument layout of the original car, with straightforward analog gauges and a large tachometer. Modern versions of the original car’s toggle switches operate key systems.