An interview with 2005/2006 Ford GT Chief Designer Camilo Pardo.
Ten Questions with Ford GT Chief Designer Camilo Pardo
Ford GT Forum(1): How close was the decision to build the GT vs. the ’49 Ford as Ford’s choice of it’s centennial car?
Camilo Pardo: There was never a decision, you know, to pick the GT or the 49′. The GT was well into it’s feasibility. There was two models: feasibility and concept car. The 49′ came into the studio and only lasted a few weeks, in the advanced studio for feasibility. There was also the T-bird, considered to be part of that group, the legends group, and the other one was the GR-1 that was going to be coming, and it never made it either.
Ford GT Forum(2): When reflecting back upon the project there had to be many turning points however of all of them which “single” item was changed because of manufacturing issues and or cost that you wish had remained?
Camilo Pardo: We fought heavily over some details, because basically the concept car that came out in 2002 was what the design team wanted. That was, you know, basically if we could have everything. So we lost the second fuel lid. There was a lot of safety issues with that. People said you’ll put fuel in the wrong one, and I wanted it to be for washer fluid and they said “look, your windshield will catch on fire!” and all kind of crazy stuff went down.
We fought very hard to not have that rear bumper you know, and we designed it so it could be removed, and look what’s happened. I’d love to count how many GT’s don’t have bumpers on them anymore.
The wheels were probably one of the coolest things on the concept car we couldn’t keep. They were very deep and it was a fantastic design. It looked better than both our wheels we have now, but to keep the geometry of the suspension and brakes that was going to be optimum, and you see it on every contemporary car, the wheels are not deep anymore.
Ford GT Forum(3): Why was the exhaust not the bundle of snake design?
Camilo Pardo: We didn’t get the bundle of snakes exhaust because Fred made me leave the room. No actually, I went in, it was very early in the development of the package in the engine, and I saw it on the screen. As they rotated the math model I noticed it did not have the exhaust coming over the top. And I expressed you know, my concern to the engineers that that was a very, very key element in the aesthetics of the engine. Configuration you know, and what everyone is expecting to see. And Fred just basically shut it right down.
There was a bit of a discussion there, but Fred was convinced moisture would drip down gravity fed into the ports and cause, you know, corrosion problems in the cylinders. And by the time they had their suspension and everything all laid out, there was no opportunity for the exhaust to come up and over the top.
Ford GT Forum(4): So how come the hot buttons weren’t factory? Was it cost or fear of burnt-bottom lawsuits?
Camilo Pardo: Oh, those things. One thing was that everybody was afraid that in Arizona, when it was 110*, it’d get so hot that you’d come out of the car like a waffle (laughs). And the other part was that, I think there was a safety issue, with a hard part underneath all your weight like that. You want soft foam and leather. You don’t want aluminum items under there.
Ford GT Forum: In case of what?
Camilo Pardo: The incredible forces of…whatever, you know. And it’s all of Ford’s really strict safety requirements. There’s a million safety requirements that exceed federal, and Ford wasn’t going to be putting anything up against your body. And (someone) said they couldn’t be designed and manufactured. And some dude knocked em out, in a MINUTE!
Ford GT Forum(5): When generating a mountain of design sketches for the GT, was there another favorite direction you wanted to see the final design go?
Camilo Pardo: Actually, there was more of 100 clay iterations. We did a series of sketches and started doing math data really quick. We started milling models, started in scale, briefly jumped in to a full size, and were working a proportional model, working with the engineers, for about a year and a half. And, I mean, it was down to the day we were going to cast the clay for the auto show, where we carved out the shape of the car.
Alot of the sketches were photoshop iterations on how to treat the front end, how much shoulder to have, different graphics, all the vents, the requirements, but I would say that car was 75% designed in clay.
Ford GT Forum(6): What was the most difficult design problem to overcome in keeping the car true to the 1966 GT40?
Camilo Pardo: It was how modern to make it. That was probably the most challenging part, because all the clays we did prior to the clay that went out to be cast for the concept car were smaller, modern versions of a GT40. And alot of them were package driven, and also, we started off with short overhangs and, you know, the basic surface development we had learned in the 80’s, that was contemporary and clean, and everything was designed to grid so it all lined up like an Audi TT and everything was making sense. When you put all that together it didn’t look like a GT. It didn’t look like a GT40.
Ford GT Forum(7): Were any colors left out?
Camilo Pardo: Yeah. We wanted to keep it simple, but Competition Orange, I thought was going to be cool.
Ford GT Forum: Why did you leave it out?
Camilo Pardo: It just wasn’t a GT40 color. It was more of a Mustang color.
Ford GT Forum(8): What was the feeling like driving the first mule around the track?
Camilo Pardo: I drove a 1965 GT40 around Deaborn. It was one of the vehicles we kept in the studio. This one we kept two years. It was the baby blue one that we put the orange graphics on, and it was loud, and it drove like a truck.
But when we finally, I don’t know which track it was, it may have been the Dearborn Proving Grounds, where I had to drive, we had to make a video with the concept car and one of the new CP vehicles, and I got to drive them both. Yes, and it’s there in the Discovery Channel special. And there’s Fred Goodnow and I and everybody and we all got to drive the vehicle and that was absolutely great.
Ford GT Forum(9): I’d like to know if the designers felt like they use any significantly new technology on the GT (besides the pressed aluminum A-arms)?
Camilo Pardo: Yeah, well everything is aluminum, and that’s probably the first car Ford has ever put into production that is practically all aluminum. And it is the first time that Ford has put carbon fiber in a production vehicle, and there is carbon fiber under the clamshell, and the frame of the seat. We used different types of aerospace technology for welding and assembly. There was a major involvement in different treatments of aluminum.
Stir welding technology was used that keeps the welding at a very low, low temperature so it doesn’t change the property of it. Roll bonding welding on the belly panels was used, that was a very, very interesting technology that makes a flat piece of aluminum very strong by bonding it with another flat and separating it with a carbon or graphite template, and they heat it and blow it up like a waffle.
Ford GT Forum(10): From a design/artist perspective , what Ford product (past or present) do you like best and why?
Camilo Pardo: Before the Ford GT? I liked the European Cosworth Escort. I thought that was a great car. It drove really really really good. I had it for almost three years in Europe. It was the best car, in my opinion, that Ford had internationally.
Now, because of my interests, and I’m not a big SUV guy or a truck guy and all that, I think we did everything that we wanted to do with the Ford GT, and it’s going to be a long while before you can beat it.
Well that’s it for our first session of Ford GT Forum “Ten Questions with”. I hope you enjoy the transcript of Camilo’s answers to some of your questions! Very cool stuff! We will soon move to yet another round with another Ford GT Team personality, because honestly, those were great answers and it seems really cool for all the members to be able to throw stuff out there. I’ll get someone more suited to answer specific technical stuff.
*Originally Published December 1st, 2009*