Diecast Delights: The Ford GT90 in 1:18 Scale

What if? It’s a fun if ultimately futile game to play. What if, in 1995,  the Ford Motor Company had successfully designed, built and sold a supercar which was absolutely without equal?
Well, it never quite happened. But fortunately, Maisto built a model which is plentifully available so you can wistfully gaze at the legend that never was.

In 1995 Ford pretty much dominated my view of the global motoring scene. The Dagenham plant, sixty miles from here, was still going strong and pumping out Fiestas in a steady, treacly mass. A blue Sierra whisked my family around with all the efficiency and style that Uwe Bahnsen had graced it with, and he who helmed an Escort Cosworth was truly King of the Estate.
The thought of Ford, My Brand, dipping a toe in the supercar water seemed way off in the early ’90s, with the Fiesta getting only a lukewarm reception at launch in ’89 and critics slagging off the 1990 Escort at every opportunity. The Sierra was pensionable and the Granada was, well, the Granada (although the top ranking Scorpio 24v model did get the odd knowing wink). Maybe it was the runaway success of the Mondeo, together with the fanfare and rapture that greeted every product launch or improvement drive that Richard Parry-Jones had anything to do with, but Ford’s confidence seemed to gather momentum rapidly as the decade went on.
When the GT90 appeared on the front cover of Autocar in ’95 it was like all my Christmases rolled into one. When I read the copy and it said things about twin-turbo V12s and 720hp, and then claimed maximum speeds of 235mph, putting it into the category of Mclaren F1 humbling world domination, it was like my sports winning the championship and then the homecoming queen giving me offers of personal fulfilment on the way to collecting a lottery cheque from the queen.
And, to my eyes, it looked good. It still does. No, it actually looks insane, which is terrific in these days of by-the-numbers sports-car box ticking (I’m looking at you, McLaren MP4-12C). This car did the unpredictable lines and sharp pointy bits thing way before Lamborghinis got all geometric. The (admittedly now withdrawn from service) Lockheed Martin F117 Stealth ground attack aircraft was cited as influential to the styling (no shit), and there was definitely no confusing the GT90 with any other car past, present, or future.
Actually, the Nighthawk was a terrific choice of inspiration. If a Ferrari F355 was a plane, it would be something flighty and agile like an F16; a Diablo would probably have been something lumbering but sledgehammer-powerful like a Tomcat. The F117 was nothing in terms of speed, and with a fundamentally unstable airframe completely dependent on computerised flight controls, but it looked 100% out of this world and was unassailably unique and jaw-dropping.
Ford probably made a mistake in allowing Jeremy Clarkson behind the wheel of the powered protoype GT90 which hobbled around the track in a less than convincing manner, air gushing noisily through the unplumbed turbocharging network. The engine, made out of chunks of Ford Modular V8 sliced, diced and rehashed into 12-pot configuration, was ready for further development. The car itself had a lot of the ingredients required for a pretty delicious recipe, right down to a tub and transmission borrowed from the XJ220. It’s such a shame that Ford never got round to cooking it.
Before selling millions of copies of this model, did Maisto know that the GT90 would be stillborn, or were they hedging their bets? Whatever the case, I’m not aware of anybody else ever making a 1:18 GT90, and to be honest this budget offering could be a hell of a lot worse.
The shape appears to be pretty much true to the photos (which incidentally portray the actual vehicle as having evolved quite markedly from the designers sketches) though the casting is a bit rough in places like the front intake. That intake was one of the few references to the original GT40, along with the wheel design and the way that the door glazing cuts into the plexiglass roof. There are a few sharp edges if you look for them, and there are some nasty irregularities in the metal where curved radii aren’t quite as they should be, but Budget Model.
A Ha’porth of tar, I’m afraid, with things like the blue oval emblems, which I assume were loaded into a poorly rifled gun and shot vaguely in the direction of their target by a blind chimp with the shakes, and the really-can’t-be-bothered application of the sticky-backed “futuristic” rear license plate and silvery rear-view mirror shiny bits. Oh, and the doors don’t quite shut properly. The basics of this model are perfectly OK, but the poor quality control of the applied details stands out like vomit on a wedding cake.
Devastating, really, because Maisto tried really hard elsewhere. The interior looks gr9, the wheels are crisp and the Goodyear branded tyres have a prototype-correct GT90 stylised tread pattern. The glass dome over the cabin is well observed and doesn’t even distort too badly. It also means I can use the model to propagate small plants if I ever get tired of displaying it.
A realistic review score of this model would probably be about 55% (start with 80% for fundamental alrightness and then deduct 1/4 for stupid, unnecessary detail failings) but I’m putting ratings aside here, so glad am I that somebody bothered to make a halfway decent model of the GT90 at all.
I love this model. I love the GT90 for the thought of what it might have been. Just don’t mention that it was twenty years ago.
(Images copyright Chris Haining / Hooniverse 2015)

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  1. Rover 1 Avatar
    Rover 1

    I must get another one of these. My first one was stolen by my flatmate’s light-fingered druggie girlfriend to fund her habit, along with another five or so 1:18s. She was right. I had so many, it took me a while to notice.
    I hope she was worth it Nick.

    1. Vairship Avatar

      Your stuff got nicked by Nick’s girl?

      1. Rover 1 Avatar
        Rover 1

        Ha! Yes indeed

  2. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    when i was six, the biggest problem with the GT90 was that the McLaren F1 was faster, because at some point it got up to 240mph, and the next problem was the styling. so i picked the McLaren F1 every time in Need for Speed II.
    not that i’d take a GT90 over the Macca today, but i’ve grown into appreciating it. i remember first reconsidering it reading a C/D article about the GT, the better part of a decade on and with that much more experience.

  3. Hans Efde Avatar
    Hans Efde

    Great review, I love this model as well and am completely rebuilding it. Almost finished now, was a shitload of work. It’s immense the amount of detailing Ford put into it. Can’t wait to have my model displayed. BTW did you notice how much of this car can be found in the Pagani Zonda? I am quite sure Horacio looked at this car and thought I can do that!