Since the original MK I was introduced to in the early 60’s, America has had a fascination with its Ferrari-beating hero, the Ford GT40. It’s no surprise that Syracuse, NY’s Dan Cassinelli shared the same love as a child for America’s champion as many of us. In fact, proudly displayed on his mantel, Dan still has the same toy GT40 in a Gulf Livery scheme that he played with as a child. “I’ll never forget getting the model of the Ford GT Heritage. The blue and the orange stripes and the number on the side kinda reminded me of speed racer, a cartoon I was watching when I was a kid. It was just something that stuck in my head for years and years and was something I always wanted and after 50 plus years it finally came to fruition.”
In 2005 Ford reintroduced the beloved GT40 but only built the retro supercar for two years. As a fairly rare and sought-after car these days, when one comes on the market, it goes fast. They also go fast literally with a 0-60 time under four seconds and with modern supercar style and power to boot. Many actually prefer this newer generation to the originals because, while still a great performer, the car is much nicer to drive and live with. If he wanted to, Dan said he could drive this car everyday; the shifter and clutch are like butter, the seats are perfect, and the interior is squeak and rattle free.
The opportunity to purchase a GT finally came to Dan when he acquired a company from a gentleman who owned the car. The man was the original owner, and the car had only 2,000 miles on it. While the car was originally red with white stripes, after a few years Dan had an itch for the exact GT40 he always wanted–a Gulf Livery schemed GT40 just like his childhood model.
Dan heard about a company in Detroit called GTG who not only specialized in customizing specifically Ford GTs, but were also part of the original design team that worked to bring the Ford GT to market. He trusted GTG completely to tear apart his dream car because for the last 11 years, GTG has worked on nothing but Ford GTs.
The GTG team left not one nut or bolt untouched on Dan’s GT. “At one point they had the whole car apart and on the floor like an erector set. It was an unbelievable sight, but it showed me they did everything the right way. They painted everything inside and out and they just did a tremendous job on it .”
Upon close inspection the details of GTG’s work is obvious. The decals and stripe package was meticulously painted, not stickers like on the original car. The interior was reupholstered in gorgeous alcantara with orange stitching to give it a nice pop and to match the exterior. The wheels were powder coated a dark grey that really set off the car’s attitude. It is impossible to miss this amazing looking ride. We struggled to get footage of the car because people wouldn’t stay away from the damn thing. It brings out the inner child in men and women, and children love it because it’s such a ‘cool car’. There is no denying the awesome energy of this car.
Dan takes the car out every weekend and loves to go to car shows. He really enjoys seeing the reaction from people when they see the car. Dan shares the same view as the Apex crew–cars are meant to be driven and should be enjoyed by all. A car like this is a functional work of art, and a special piece of history. I’m glad Dan is willing to share it with us all!
Story: Justin Palmer
Photos: Chris Penree