Up for auction next month is a pristine, barely used version of Ford’s legendary Ferrari-killing supercar – the Ford GT. And we’re not talking about the newly released 6-cylinder ecoboost version either. No, this is one of the second-gen, full-fat supercharged V8 models.
This particular Ford GT in Midnight Blue, number 1,664 of 2,011 built in total, has just 60 miles on the clock and to top it off used to be owned by the one and only Jeremy Clarkson. Are the warning bells ringing yet? They should be.
Clarkson took delivery of the car in May 2005, and from the onset it was clear that life with his new Ford GT was going to involve a couple of compromises.
On his first run to London, Clarkson discovered that the GT’s ability to turn heads was second-to-none. “Everyone was taking pictures, waving, giving me the thumb’s up,” Clarkson wrote at the time. “Never, not once in 15 years of road testing cars, had anything drawn such a massive crowd. And never had the crowd been so overtly supportive.”
“It’s too wide for the width restrictions on Hammersmith bridge — backing up earned me a slot on the traffic news that morning,” Clarkson added. “The turning circle means every mini roundabout becomes a three-point turn, and at oblique junctions, as is the case in a Ferrari Enzo, you absolutely cannot see if anything’s coming.”
But unfortunately things started to go very wrong three days later, after Clarkson drove his GT to Dunsfold Park to film an episode of Top Gear.
As he attempted to leave the studio at the end of the day and make the long journey home, the GT’s engine immobiliser refused to un-immobilise itself – and so it had to be pushed into a hangar and Clarkson went home instead in a rented Toyota Corolla. For shame.
“Ford sent a tow truck, changed the immobiliser and delivered the car to my house the following day,” Clarkson revealed. “Is it fixed? I asked. Yes, they said. It wasn’t.”
“At three in the morning the alarm blew. And then again at four. This meant my wife started to refer to it as ‘that fucking car’, which took away a bit of the sheen, if I’m honest.”
While driving his GT back to the garage the very next day, Clarkson received a phone call from the vehicle tracking company which monitors the car alarm. “Your car’s been stolen, sir,” they told him. “I’m sure it hasn’t,” Clarkson replied. “because I’m in it.”
Fearing Clarkson might have been the burglar, the man asked him for the password. “Tricky one that,” Clarkson says. “Since I have a different password for everything on the internet and can never remember any of them. And that’s a big problem, because the man at the end of the phone has the power to remotely shut down the engine.”
“I threatened him, lightly, with some physical harm, but this didn’t work so I had to guess. “Aardvark,” I ventured. “Abacus, Aesop, additional…”
Eventually he took pity and Clarkson was able to deliver the car back to Ford with some stern warnings about the alarm, the immobiliser and the tracker system, all of which seemed to be malfunctioning. As a courtesy car they gave him a Ford Focus, with a diesel engine. Nice.
Two days later Clarkson’s GT was back. “Is it fixed?” he asked, again. “Yes,” they told him.
“Five minutes out of the Ford garage I received a text to say my car had been stolen. And then, in the next half hour, three more. So, counting the two I’d received before I was even out of bed, that meant my car had been stolen five times before 9am.” – Jeremy Clarkson
It was at this moment that Clarkson phoned Ford and calmly explained that he would personally come over and insert the whole car up the company chairman’s backside if it wasn’t fixed. And while I was on the phone a yellow warning light came on the dash.
“There’s a yellow warning light on the dash,” Clarkson bellowed. “Oh, that’ll be something to do with the engine management system, said the man with the bleeding ears. You’ll need to get it looked at…”
When Clarkson’s GT was delivered to his house after its third hospital trip in as many weeks, he didn’t bother asking whether the security system had been fixed, “Because the notion of it still being broken was simply inconceivable,” he said.
So imagine his surprise when, one hour later, while at his daughter’s school play, he heard a familiar siren. “I couldn’t believe it,” Clarkson said. “The alarm had gone off again.”
“I then did something the man at Ford wasn’t expecting. I asked for my money back. And that, the next day, is what happened.”
The Ford GT was, as Clarkson put it, “A 35-year dream. A two-year wait. Ten years of damn hard work. The most miserable month’s motoring it is possible to imagine.”
So dear reader, are you really surprised that some 12 years later, Clarkson’s GT is up for sale again with just 60 miles on the clock? And would you be willing to roll the dice on paying the projected $275,000 to $350,000 price tag in order to purchase one of the unluckiest pieces of automotive history?