It is to Lola designer Eric Broadley's eternal credit that the iconic Ford GT40 doesn't look dated even today, but the fact remains that he designed it in 1963 - half a century ago! - and, ever since the Porsche 917 made it obsolete in 1970, armchair pundits have debated the possible outcome, had Ford elected to go forward with its mid-engined sports-racer project, as an exclusive road car.
What would today's Ford GT look like?
Well, one American customiser, Galpin Auto Sports of Van Nuys, California, has done more than debate the issue. It has created this hand-built prototype supercar, the Galpin Ford GTR1, first shown at Quail Motorsports Gathering in Monterey, California, on Friday and then on the prestigious concept lawn of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on Sunday 18 August.
Its aluminium body was hand-formed by renowned concept-car builder Gaffoglio Family Metalcrafters of Fountain Valley, California; just shaping the body and moulding the carbon-fibre trim elements, never mind the sprayjob, took more than 12 000 man hours.
It's powered by a 5.4-litre Ford V8 'crate engine', fettled by Galpin with twin turbochargers to produce a ground-shaking 755kW and 1000Nm. Galpin estimates that the GTR1 should hit 100km/h from rest in about three seconds, 160km/h (the old English 'ton') in another three and top out above 360km/h.
Given that this is the only GTR1 in existence, nobody has tried it yet.
The prototype runs on specially-commissioned 20” knock-off alloy rims shod with Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres, over genuine Formula One-spec carbon-fibre (not carbon ceramic) brake discs and six-piston Brembo callipers.
Inside, the instrument panel has been machined from a slab of billet aluminium, while the hand-fabricated sports bucket seats, dashboard, door panels and headliner are trimmed with a special sateen blue leather sourced from Scottish leatherworks Bridge of Weir, specialty suppler to the bespoke coachbuilding trade for more than a century.
Eight steers gave their hides - each selected from free-range cattle that graze at altitudes above 1200 metres to reduce potential blemishes from barbed wire and insect bites, and tanned using a special recycled-chromium process that reduces the impact on the environment - to complete the interior trim of the GTR1.
Even the sound system has been custom-crafted by McIntosh to match the acoustics of the GTR1's cabin.
Metalcrafters took a set of moulds off the body before it went to be sprayed, so Galpin will be able to offer customers the choice of ordering their GTR1 with either aluminium or carbon-fibre body panels.
Orders are open for batch production from 2014 at a little more than $1 million (R10.15 million) each. Galpin plans to build no more than six at a time, in no more than four batches, for a maximum of just 24 examples.