Since its birth in 2005, Ford has built only 4,033 of its iconic first-generation Ford GT supercars. To this day, they’re still fast, still powerful, and they’ve spawned a new version come 2017. But while there’s thousands of GTs prowling the world’s backroads, there’s only one of these. Meet “Workhorse One.”
During development of the 2005-2006 GT program, the first running and driving Ford GT prototype was given the moniker “Workhorse One” by the fabrication team. It was completed in November 2002 and used primarily as a base for developing the production car’s suspension, and when its job was done, it had a very special send-off.
Fast forward to 2016 and Shelby American is selling off that momentous pre-GT, though expectedly it won’t come cheap.
From afar, it may look like every other GT on the streets, but one look inside tells a different story. The Workhorse One’s interior is race car spartan—a mix of bare metal and pre-production components. What the cockpit does house is a pair of bolstered bucket seats with Simpson harnesses, a Sparco steering wheel, and interestingly the gauges from a Mustang Cobra.
Opening the driver’s side door reveals three things: A) the doors don’t take part of the roof with them, B) the small roof bubble (called a “Gurney Bump” for driver Dan Gurney who needed it made so he could fit in the 1967 LeMans-winning GT40) didn’t make it to production, and C) the names of all the fabrication team members are etched into the door sill. No, this isn’t your average Ford GT.
It gets a bit more peculiar under the car’s rear hatch, which opens via hood pins. While the production car earned a bombastic 5.4-liter supercharged V8, Workhorse One came fitted with a 32-valve 4.6-liter V8. No sense going full-on supercar before sorting out the suspension, I suppose.
And that special send-off? According to Shelby, Ford actually gave Workhorse One to Carroll Shelby as a gift, who at the time was a senior technical advisor on the GT project. For years it has lived at Shelby American’s Las Vegas facility, until now that is.
The special Ford GT prototype is one of 14 cars housed within Shelby’s Enthusiast Collection—a selection of concept, prototype, and Shelby milestone vehicles, which include a 1,000hp Shelby Mustang prototype, GT350 NASCAR pace car, and the first and last Shelby 289 FIA Cobras. All of which are up for sale.
“Historically Shelby has kept very few of its prototype and concept cars,” says Gary Patterson, Shelby American’s VP of International and Strategic Sales. “Carroll always preferred them to go to private parties to share and drive versus collecting dust in the museum or warehouse.”
Given this car’s incredible provenance, it’s likely to wind up in another museum or private collection… it just won’t be Shelby’s anymore.