On the road - and on the track - in Ford's $450,000 supercar

Driving Ford's supercar for the few
Driving Ford's supercar for the few

I was driving a brand-new Ford GT down a mountain road in Utah. Ford's $450,000 supercar is really a street-legal race car, but, set to Sport mode, it was composed and easy to drive on public highways.

It was hard to believe that, only a few hours earlier, I'd actually been kind of intimidated by it.

The GT has a crackling 647-horsepower turbocharged V6 engine mounted behind its two seats, serious seats that don't adjust a dozen ways, like so many these days. They only adjust one way: You can change the angle of the seat back. Otherwise, if you're not comfortable, you have to adjust the steering wheel and pedals.

The GT is so race car, the steering wheel isn't even wheel-shaped. It's rectangular, with most of its knobs and switches mounted there.

Earlier that morning, I'd taken another Ford (F) GT, just like the one I was driving down that mountain, out on the track at Utah Motorsports Campus a few miles away.

A Ford Performance Racing School instructor was at my side in the tight confines of the cabin. The seats were so close together we practically bumped shoulders at every turn.

"Keep your speed! Keep your speed! Keep your speed!" he said like a mantra as I fought every instinct telling me to brake for those hard curves, or at least, for God's sake, lift my foot off the gas.

But in Track mode, with its body lowered almost to pebble-plowing level and its extendable wing high up over its back bumper, the GT ran through curve after curve without so much as an errant wiggle. And the steering wheel still provided a direct feel that reminded me, always, that I was, for better or worse, in charge.

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The Ford GT's interior is pretty much straight up race car.

I hit the long front straight and pushed the gas down until it hit the floor. A hairpin turn at the far end came rushing toward the windshield as the digital speedometer ticked past 100 miles an hour, then past 119.

119.4 ... 119.5 ... 119.6 ... 119.7 ...

"Brake, brake, brake!" the instructor said.

I hit the pedal hard. The Ford GT's giant brakes grabbed hold like a dog on the best damned bone ever. The rear wing flipped up to almost vertical, acting like a parachute to slow the car while grinding the back tires down into the pavement.

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The tires skittered a little and my torso pushed forward in the tight racing harness as the car slowed enough for me to steer left and rip around the apex of that sharp curve.

After that I felt like, as long you weren't an irredeemable idiot, this car could do about anything.

But it's not perfect. The Ford GT was designed mostly to win races, not just for fun and certainly not for comfort.

A lot of people -- I'm thinking particularly of older, wider people -- are going to have a hard time relaxing in its austere cabin. It's a lot like driving a pair of economy seats on Delta, only with less cushioning and no beverage service.

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Also, the Ford GT's performance, when it comes to air conditioning, is wholly inadequate. It was only in the mid-60s in Grantsville, Utah, but the inside of the Ford GT quickly felt like a Manhattan taxicab in July.

Part of the Ford GT's appeal, though, has to do with that other kind of coolness. And it has loads of that. This is a car that basically comes with its own velvet rope.

Not just anybody can buy one. Only 1,000 are being made available, and prospective owners have had to apply.

For this kind of money, or even less, there are cars you could buy with similar performance but greater on-road comfort. And all you need to get one of those cars is money. So if your application didn't get accepted and you couldn't get a Ford GT, don't feel too bad.

I mean, feel pretty bad, sure, but not too bad.

When will I be a millionaire?

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