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Monday, February 20, 2017

The Fraud GT



The general idea behind the IMSA racing series (and the ALMS Series that preceded it) is that automobile manufacturers are supposed to build actual sports cars which are purchased by real-live consumers who drive and enjoy them.  Consumer purchases are followed by an equalized racing competition to promote each brand and, ultimately, to produce performance improvements that are proven on the race track to subsequently be adapted to the respective cars to make them better.  Under this proven formula everyone benefits and has a good time.


Over the past 15 years this formula has worked very well.  The manufacturers over this time period have included:  Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet (Corvette), Dodge (Viper), Ferrari, and Porsche.  Each manufacturer has followed the rules by designing, building, selling, and then, and only then, racing sports cars.


Let me interrupt myself to say, with all sincerity, to my many friends and colleagues who have purchased and owned the fine automobiles manufactured by the Ford Motor Company, that I mean no disrespect to them or to Ford (in fact, some day I hope to own my second 1933/34 Ford).  Ford trucks are great, I have loved the many variations of the Mustang, the new Ford cars provide reliable, economical transportation, and so on.  This rant isn’t so much about Ford as it is about a small minority of misguided, egotistical, scheming, public relations-types who work for Ford.


With enormous fan-fare and outrageous expense Ford has reintroduced the Ford GT.  As we have come to realize, it isn’t actually a sports car – it is a publicity stunt.  


(c)
Copyright 2017 Cary E. Thomas.  All rights reserved.
NOTE:  The "Fraud" logo (above) is the the exclusive property of Cary E. Thomas.  The image may not be used in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photo-copying, recording or otherwise) without the prior permission of the publisher. Requests to use the logo may be sent to Cary's Gmail account cary62vette. 

As was reported in Auto Week, on December 16, 2016, “Ford” (actually the Ford Motor Company doesn’t manufacture the Ford GT – see below) announced that the first Ford GT rolled off the assembly line to be allegedly delivered to a “customer”.  Almost one year after the Ford GT was entered into IMSA competition, and two years after the beginning of an onslaught of unprecedented hype, they have produced their first consumer vehicle.  Are we supposed to be impressed?  One car?



Here are my reasons for characterizing this “car” as a complete fraud.  I prefer to call it the “Fraud GT”.  

American Sports Car?

The Fraud GT isn’t made by Ford and it isn’t even made in the USA.  The car is manufactured by Multimatic Motorsports in Markham, Ontario, Canada.  I think Canada is a wonderful Country and USA ally, and I’m sure the employees of the company who build the Fraud GT are good people.  But let’s not deceive the public into thinking the car is a real Ford, built in a Ford plant, with skilled American workers holding down good jobs.    

Contrast the factory that builds the Fraud GT to the Corvette Assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, where America’s Sports Car has been built for the past 35 years.  The Corvette plant employs about 1,000 employees.


A Car for Sports Car Aficionados? 

Suppose we wanted go down to our local Ford dealer to purchase (or order) a Fraud GT.  Impossible.  It is well documented that no matter how passionate you are about sports cars, or even Ford products, there is zero probability that you can buy this car.  Prospective buyers are required to go through an application process, divulging personal information, and building a compelling case for why they are worthy of owning a Fraud (sounds a little like the TSA, huh!).  Only the famous, rich, or super-models will be afFORDed the opportunity of competing with each other to buy a Fraud GT.  


I have a dear friend who has owned some world-class, exotic sports cars.  He is passionate about, and has owned, some of the world’s finest crafted performance vehicles.  He is exactly the kind of customer that is courted by Audi, Ferrari, Maserati, Porsche, and similar marques.  He has participated in numerous, multi-day, “driving experiences” to test drive and, perhaps own, these amazing cars.  He went through the Fraud application process, preparing a dossier supporting his application to buy a Fraud GT that would make any prosecuting attorney proud.  The result?   The fact that his application was denied was delivered in an email message.  My friend’s recollection of the Fraud communication is:

“I got the dearest of Dear John, colder than cold, go-away e-mails. ‘Dear occupant, We share your enthusiasm for the new Ford GT but you are so unimportant to us you don’t get a response that would remotely resemble a personal reply. You put in that time and effort for nothing. You’re a chump.’ ”

I wonder how many other true sports car enthusiasts have been turned off by the Fraud people?

Although virtually every passenger car produced today comes equipped with an automatic transmission, real sports car drivers want the chance to choose a manual transmission. The Fraud GT only comes with a slushbox. I guess they figure that super-models, billionaires, and Ambassadors don’t know how to drive stick-shift? Or maybe the Fraud executives are afraid that the third pedal would confuse the beautiful people? To me, a high-performance sports car that only comes equipped with an automatic transmission is kind of . . . . sissified!


And how about the price?  At more than $400,000 you could probably buy three cars – a  BMW, a Porsche, and a Corvette – instead of a Fraud.  How will the traditional sports car lovers of America ever be able to pay that kind of money for a Fraud? 


The quote below, from the March 23, 2016 edition of Automobile Magazine, reinforces everything noted above.

“I also question the type of car Ford is racing. Don’t get me wrong. I love the new GT, and I applaud Ford’s return to the international racing arena. The road version of the GT looks fantastic and is a wonderful halo automobile for the company, but why can’t you buy one of the road cars while the race cars battle the competition on the track? We won’t see the street version of the Ford GT until the very end of this year, well after the 2016 racing season comes to a close. The rumored $400,000 price is much higher than the road versions of the competition’s entries while the production numbers of the Ford are lower. Is the Ford GT a cheater car only built to meet homologation rules of the sanctioning bodies?”


How Many Frauds does it take to field a racing team?


For many years in the ALMS classes (GTS, GT1, GT2) and the IMSA GTLM class each manufacturer has fielded a team of two cars, never more.  Individual (non-factory) teams typically field a single car.  


The Fraud people are so obsessed with making the Fraud GT appear to be a winner (at any cost, I might add) that they have decided to field four cars.  I wonder why they don’t just field 10 or 20 cars?  Oh, that’s right, they probably can’t manufacture that many!



Forget Flipping the Fraud GT.


OK, so maybe you are thinking that you don’t really want to own an over-priced, automatic transmission equipped sports car, but you would like to make a few bucks by purchasing a Fraud GT and then flipping it at a profit.  You can forget this idea too.  I have it from a very reliable source that the “purchase agreement” for the Fraud GT includes a provision that if you want to sell the car, Ford has the first option of buying it back from you.

Embarrassment at Le Mans 2016

I won’t go on and on about the behavior of the Fraud GT people at Le Mans 2016. Other automotive writers have completely documented the outrageous and childish behavior of the Fraud people. Here are a few of my favorite articles.

Automobile Magazine




(Im)Balance of Performance.


Despite their frequent mistakes, and that fact that they are easily duped, I comprehend the extremely difficult task the IMSA BoP people have in adjusting the cars for a competitive race.

I am proposing here and now one additional factor to be added to the BoP formula: “Production Adjusted Weight Factor” or PAWF. The formula works as follows; I will use the just completed 24 Hours of Daytona as an example:

For each car entered into the GTLM class 200 pounds is put into a “Weight Pool”; There were 11 cars at Daytona, so the weight pool would be 2,200 pounds.

The Weight Pool is distributed among the cars in inverse proportion to the number of cars produced by each manufacturer in the prior year; so the more real cars that are manufactured and sold to the public, the lower the weight adjustment for that manufacturer.

The table below shows the production numbers for model year 2016. There were no Fraud GTs produced in that year (apparently the first production car was a 2017 model year), but I wanted to give their team a little slack, so I counted the 4 cars that raced in 2016 as “production cars”. Based on these statistics, you can see the percentage of weight adjustment for each manufacturer.

Manufacturer Model Units delivered 2016 Proportion of total Production Reciprocal of Proportion Percentage of weight to be distributed
BMW M6                   3,926                 0.0744                13.45 0.10%
Chevrolet Corvette                 29,995                 0.5681                  1.76 0.01%
Ferrari 488                   8,014                 0.1518                  6.59 0.05%
Fraud GT                            4                 0.0001        13,198.80 99.80%
Porsche 911 RSR                 10,856                 0.2056                  4.86 0.04%
Total Production                 52,795                 1.0000              13,225 100.00%


Now, let’s apply the percentages to the weight pool.  The table below shows how much extra weight each car would carry as part of the PAWF.
 
No. Manufacturer Model Weight Pool addition (pounds) Percentage of weight to be distributed (per car)  Weight Assignment (Pounds) 
24 BMW M6 GTLM 200 0.05%                        1.1
19 BMW M6 GTLM 200 0.05%                        1.1
3 Chevrolet C7.R 200 0.01%                        0.1
4 Chevrolet C7.R 200 0.01%                        0.1
62 Ferrari 488GTE 200 0.05%                        1.1
66 Fraud GT 200 24.95%                   548.9
67 Fraud GT 200 24.95%                   548.9
68 Fraud GT 200 24.95%                   548.9
69 Fraud GT 200 24.95%                   548.9
911 Porsche 911 RSR 200 0.02%                        0.4
912 Porsche 911 RSR 200 0.02%                        0.4

Total
2200 100%                   2,198


Let’s hope IMSA uses these numbers for the next race!  I’d like to see the Fraud GTs carrying an extra 550 pounds!


If You Insist on owning a Fraud GT

OK, if after impartially digesting all the above information you still think you want to buy a Fraud GT, I have discovered a little-known, secret, way to purchase one.  Really.  Please go to the website below and you can order a Fraud GT today.  Unfortunately it only comes in one color (which looks surprisingly like Corvette Velocity Yellow).  But you will be able to truthfully say that you own this extremely rare, if stupid, “sports car”!


The Fraud GT – it will disappear in a very few years!  The Corvette legacy will go on and on and on. . . .