For round two of the ongoing Ford GT Forum “Ten Questions Series”, we’re moving on to: Ten Questions with Jamal Hameedi.
Jamal Hameedi was the Program Manager for Ford GT. He’s an engineer by trade, and is currently Ford Motor Company Global Performance Vehicle Chief Engineer, but his role at Ford GT could best be described as being the hub of the wheel that held together the many spokes of the program.
As a bonus, I let the maintenance guys into Jamal’s pad last week so they could fix his hot tub, so we get to play 20 questions.
Ford GT Forum (1): Why was the specific engine size selected instead of something larger?
Jamal Hameedi: The 5.4L architecture was off the shelf (bore and stroke) and there was some history with it from the Cobra R (heads) and the Lightning (forced induction). It was a high confidence solution.
Larger? That displacement can support 1000 hp with forced induction. Plus larger displacement = longer wider engine = more weight. We exceeded our power target with 5.4L so I think going larger would have just increased fuel consumption and weight.
Ford GT Forum (2): Regarding Goodyear Tires: 1) What performance attributes were a) must have b) nice to have and c) don’t care one way or the other for the review team? Was, for instance, mud/snow traction actually in the evaluation equation?
Jamal Hameedi: We benchmarked many suppliers (Pirelli, Goodyear, Michelin) and
went with Goodyear. Dry performance, high speed durability, limit handling progressivity and wet performance where the main criteria. There seems to be a hidden question here: “Why did you go with the Goodyears – there are better alternatives out there”.
One thing to keep in mind is that tire technology (and especially the productionization of racing exotic compounds) has come a LONG way in the past 5 years. The Goodyear is a 6-7 year old tire. Comparing it to an modern aftermarket Pilotsport is an apples to oranges comparison. Put a Supercar G:2 tire on the GT and I’m sure the result would be mind boggling. The another area that the Supercar F1 tire blows away the competition (still very competitive today) is in wet handling. Very few people have experienced the limit handling capability of a GT in the wet. It’s impressive…
Ford GT Forum (3): If you had to name one item that you fought for/against that
brought you the most grief, what would it be?
Jamal Hameedi: Doing a non standard key (for – lost), covering the passenger airbag with leather (for – lost), the roll down windows (for – won), the 90 degree door (for – won), dual fuel fillers (against – won), the belly pans (for – won), Nardo (for – won), Nurburgring (for – lost) but probably the biggest item: convincing people within Ford that if we built a car deserving of the Ford GT nameplate, people would pay more than $100,000 for it (for – won). Several people wanted it to be priced at $99,995 and it would have been a VERY different car at that price. Trust me – you wouldn’t have liked it.
Ford GT Forum (4): The Ford GT development program was (from memory) an incredible 18 months from concept approval to production. What, if any ‘lessons learned’ from that abbreviated process were later adopted by Ford for it’s vehicle development processes?
Jamal Hameedi: Probably this biggest thing we learned that we practice today is learning how to be flexible. No matter what the timing challenge, you can always get over it by using creativity, flexibility, and perseverance. We have that mindset everyday at SVT but only use it when needed. Having said that, an 18 month program clean sheet car is a massive compromise from ideal. I think engineers need more time than that to develop the product and suppliers need more time than that to learn how to build their parts consistently. But we got it done nonetheless and turned out an incredible car.
As an aside, there was a time when (early 2000’s) when there was a race to see who could bring a car to market the fastest. Certain Japanese companies where leading that charge and everyone else was chasing them. Today companies have settled on an aggressive but not ridiculous timeline. The measure of success is not time to market but happy customers, meeting your business plan, quality and no recalls.
Ford GT Forum (5): Did (or will) any of the GT (business or engineering) processes
find their way into SVT (e.g. Raptor or future products)?
Jamal Hameedi: See above.
Ford GT Forum (6): And for extra credit – Was Fred easy or difficult to work with –
Jamal Hameedi: I like to say the Ford GT program was the biggest collection of Type A personalities ever. So yeah, Fred had his days. I had my days, Coletti had his days, etc. Pretty much everyone had their days when the Type A was in full bloom. The only exceptions to this rule that come to mind are Reichenbach and Ressler. Those 2 guys were steady Eddies…always calm and collected.
Ford GT Forum (7): Did you guys ever consider an exhaust configuration similar to the original bundle of snakes found on the original Mark I’s which the current FGT seems to have been birthed from? If you did consider it, why wasn’t a bundle of snakes exhaust configuration used?
Jamal Hameedi: Where did the catalysts go on a Mark I? And the muffler? You need both for a street legal car. Sad but true.
Ford GT Forum (8): Also, did you guys ever consider a wheel configuration to permit more original style wheel styles (e.g. Halibrand style) with 3 eared faux spinners? If so, what happened. If not considered, why not?
Jamal Hameedi: We needed to go with a lightweight modern wheel that we knew would work. Halibrand wheels can be very heavy by today’s standards…the base wheel does have a pseudo faux spinner (inspired) center cap. That’s what Camilo kept telling us at least…and that thing was the most expensive center alloy wheel hub cap in the history of
Ford GT Forum (9): As a business case, did the GT make money for Ford?
Jamal Hameedi: We made a little money.
Ford GT Forum (10): What would have to happen to make a similar business case for a
follow-on exotic in todays market?
Jamal Hameedi: Supercars are dessert for a company like Ford. They always have been and always will be. It’s nearly impossible to convince anyone to invest in dessert when a company is just starting to come out of one of the worst cash flow situations in its history and as a result – your balance sheet is carrying more debt than you want. So to answer your question, we need to be making money consistently and we need to have a healthy balance sheet before we can consider dessert.
Ford GT Forum (11): Not sure how to ask this, but do the suppliers contribute development “at cost” in order to be included in a Halo project like the GT? If not, what manner do they help out to be selected to supply systems or parts?
Jamal Hameedi: In today’s economic reality, it is MUCH more difficult to find suppliers for high profile low volume vehicles than for high volume vehicle programs. And FYI: no one ever contributes development “at cost” – no matter what the car program. Suppliers are businesses and they need to make money just like any other businesses.
Ford GT Forum (12): When can I get a focus rs?
Jamal Hameedi: They are on sale in Europe as we speak so right now 🙂 You can’t homologate a low volume European car after it has been designed for the US market. The EU and FMVSS safety standards are just too far apart. It’s way too expensive to do after the fact and there are NO shortcuts for a company like Ford. Trust me, we looked at it. More than once.
Ford GT Forum (13): what were the names of the two girls I saw your picture with in DBK’s computer, and may I get an invite to the next event
Jamal Hameedi: Nice Dave…
Ford GT Forum (14): Does the Ford GT have the least amount of aerodynamic drag in it’s stock configuration with the belly pan absolutely parallel to the ground? With the belly pan level would drag increase or decrease as the car is lowered? By lowering just the front end 1/2 inch, so the belly pan is no longer parallel to the ground, are we increasing drag and hurting our one-mile times?
Jamal Hameedi: I went straight to the expert one this John Pfeiffer. He worked on GT aero and still does GT500 aero at SVT:
The drag increase doesn’t come from the slight change in the pan being off parallel the drag comes from the pitch angle of the leading edge of the splitter. Also don’t ignore frontal area. Lowering the car reduces frontal area and drag by forcing less air under the car and more around and reduces drag by decreasing the gap around the tires. More pitch can increase frontal area. Regarding lift always err front down versus rear.
A small pliable air dam at the leading edge of the splitter should reduce drag at the expense of increasing effectiveness of the rear diffuser. Think of a thick splitter versus thin.
Other drag reductions:
Solid disc wheels or very large brake rotors.
Tape off as much cooling as you can afford for the “run”
Obvious stuff like cutlines and mirrors.
Tape off HVAC and door air extractors
As narrow of a wheel/tire as you can afford with the offsets so the
rears are in the shadow of the fronts (frontal area).
Ford GT Forum (15): Were there particular times in development when Carroll Shelby
was brought in to provide feedback / ‘bless’ certain stages of the project.
Jamal Hameedi: Workhorse phase, in the studio, and nearing production. On the Ford GT, Carroll was more of a mentor than a product consultant. We use him much more on the GT500…
Ford GT Forum (16): Knowing where you grew up, what made you decide to do this and
what schools did you attend to get there and build your career?
Jamal Hameedi: I’ve been a car freak ever since I was a kid. I went to Washington University in St. Louis and worked on a couple of SAE student design competitions: the Methanol Marathon (where we built a M85 Chevy (er sorry Chevrolet) Corsica). Then we did the Natural Gas Vehicle Challenge where we built a lean burn, twin turbo small block 12.5:1 compression Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck that ran on natural gas.
Those projects really brought engineering together with my love of cars.
And when I hired into Ford, I told myself I would leave when I had a job that wasn’t fun anymore. I figured it would only be a matter of time at a big company. 19 years later, I’m still waiting for that to happen…
Ford GT Forum (17): Did Ricardo take a need as presented for the Team at Ford and
then present to the Team the transaxle and clutch package or was Ricardo given design specifications and then simply asked to create it?
Jamal Hameedi: We chose Ricardo based on the transaxle they had already designed, and then worked with them to adapt it to our application. There was significant development but we didn’t start from scratch which we didn’t have time to do.
Ford GT Forum (18): Why did they go with dual blade throttle body, rather than a large
Jamal Hameedi: Less throttle plate deflection and more robust sealing.
Ford GT Forum (19): Can we get a Mark II GT?
Jamal Hameedi: See question 10.
Ford GT Forum (20): Did you or anyone else ever envision that so many GT’s would end up making 700, 800, 900, 1000+ hp or did you think they’d more likely be garage queens?
Jamal Hameedi: Given the price and the finite population, I (and I think everyone else) never imagined that the car would be modded (amount of mods and the number of people modding them) as much as it has been. But it’s pretty consistent with our SVT Mustangs/GT500’s: half of them end up being modded.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully you find that interesting and enlightening or at least entertaining. Until next time…
*THIS STORY ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED JULY 2, 2010*