For those of us on the ground and, we’re certain, many following along elsewhere, the biggest surprise at this year’s Detroit motor show was the Ford GT supercar, which was kept secret until the moment of its unveiling.
So, how, in this age of constant leaks, teasers and backgrounding, did Ford manage to keep the GT in the bag?
The project, dubbed Phoenix, was housed primarily within a basement storage room at the company’s product development centre in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn. Access to the GT’s room required a physical set of metal keys, rather than the usual electronic ID cards.
Just six designers worked on the project and they were forbidden from talking to anyone outside the team about the project. Whenever the team needed to see the car in natural light or beyond the restrictive confines of their bunker, the car was wheeled out with the utmost secrecy and care on weekends when there no prying eyes about.
The secrecy surrounding the new GT not only played a part in its eventual impact, but also helped to speed up the decision making process: a critical factor in ensuring that the GT would make its debut at the 2015 Detroit show.
Moray Callum, Ford’s head of design, explained, “Usually, we like to encourage, especially on important programs, wide input from around the world, but on this one, we sort of realised both in terms of time and the element of keeping it quiet that we probably had to change the process here, so we picked a small group of designers”.
Unlike many motor show reveals, the Ford GT wasn’t preceded by a teaser campaign, or leaked photos or details. The closest that the press corps got to the truth prior were whispers from unnamed sources back in October of 2014.
A situation summed by Callum as “a lot of people probably knew something was going on, but no one actually knew”.