Once upon a time, you needed to know a thing or two about cars to work in product design for one of the world’s largest car manufacturers. If you wanted to work on a car build project on a senior level, you’d almost certainly need to have degrees and qualifications – not to mention a lifetime’s worth of experience. Apparently, that isn’t the case anymore. The modern world is a strange place, and it’s just got a little bit stranger at Ford. They’ve combined the skills and opinions of more than two hundred and fifty thousand video game fans to build the Team Fordzilla F1 Supercar.
Technically speaking – from a video game point of view, at least, the car isn’t ‘new.’ It was first unveiled in the digital realm in August 2020 as the latest vehicle of choice for the company’s official “Fordzilla” e-sports team. Designs and specs for the vehicle were debated back and forth on Twitter over a period of several months, with votes taken on all important aspects, and results of those polls and conversations were then sent on to Britain-based designer Arturo Arino to polish and turn into a workable product. What he came up with looks sleek, powerful, and beautiful – but it was never meant to be driven on real roads. Back then, it was thought of as a virtual car only, and wasn’t scheduled to arrive in the ‘real’ world. During the past few months, something’s obviously changed.
The low-rise design of the car with its silver paneling and lack of a central ‘bubble’ will probably look familiar to anyone who’s spent any degree of time playing futuristic driving games, and even more familiar to anyone who’s played the “Light Racers” online slots game. That’s a testament to Arino’s achievements. The cars that are featured in the online slots game supposed to be representations of the far future, there to entertain players while simultaneously attracting them to the idea of spending more to play online slots. The fact that Arino appears to have somehow managed to reach into that vision and pull out something that looks so close to it is remarkable. We’re not saying that he was influenced by the online slots game – he might not even be aware of it – but his work appears to be decades ahead of its time.
The most remarkable feature on the car is the two rear wings, which are inspired by those of the GT but extensively revised and modified to the point they’re barely recognizable. Moving the wings allows gamers to extensively change the car’s aerodynamic properties, allowing for very high speeds on straights and powerful handling on corners. They’re a larger version of what you’d see on the wings of a Formula 1 car – a fact that’s reflected in the vehicle’s name. So much effort was put into the design of this virtual car that it even had a bespoke interior created, with thought given to placement and practicality. It always seemed like too much effort to put into designing a car that would never be driven outside the confines of an as-yet-unknown next-gen racing game, and that’s proven to be the case.
On December 18th, 2020, Ford surprised and delighted fans of the virtual F1 Supercar by announcing that they’d built one for real – and it’s a sight to behold. We don’t know whether this was the plan all along or whether someone within Ford’s real-world design team was so inspired by the virtual car that they pushed for a real one to be built, but it exists now, and it’s stunning. From what we understand, this is the first time in history that a car designed by video game fans has been plucked out of a game and built for real. We don’t know how much it cost Ford to build it, and we don’t know what its retail price would be because, unfortunately, nobody will ever be allowed to buy one.
While Ford was excited to show off its real version of the digital car, the company quickly stressed that it was a one-off build and would never become commercially available. If that’s the case, and they’ve built this purely to show off, it’s quite a statement. The steering wheel has its own dedicated screen to allow messages to be sent from the racing team’s pit wall, and a HUD keeps tire pressure, mileage, and other vital information visible on the windscreen at all times. The rear wings don’t look quite as sweeping or dramatic as they do in pictures of its digital equivalent, but they’re still unlike anything we’ve ever seen on a supercar before. If you were to paint this car black rather than its current shade of white, it would be an excellent choice for the Batmobile in the next “Batman” movie.
There’s no word yet on what Ford intends to do with this unique car. It’s safe to drive, but as they’re not planning to sell it to a private owner, it’s more likely that they’ll use it for promotional reasons for the next year or two and also use it to promote the new game whenever it’s released – whatever that game might be. The most popular suggestion on the internet at the moment is that it’s “Gran Turismo 7,” which should arrive on the PlayStation 5 early in 2021, but that isn’t yet confirmed. With a bit of luck, though, they’ll change their minds. They weren’t going to build the car for real at one point, so they might have a change of heart again and build a few more of these spectacular cars for people to buy. We don’t imagine that they’d be cheap – far from it, in fact – but we also don’t imagine that they’d have any difficulty whatsoever in finding customers willing to take one off their hands.
For the average car owner, though, this is just another ‘dream car’ that we’ll never be able to park in our garages. It looks great, it sounds great when it’s in motion, and it has a mouthwatering amount of futuristic technology in it, but your local Ford dealer doesn’t have it in their catalog. This Ford F1 Supercar is now a reality, but you shouldn’t expect to see it driving down the roads close to you any time soon.