History and Production
ACS (Advanced Composite Specialties) is a hood manufacturer building hoods for some of the greatest American sports cars including Corvettes, Camaros, Mustangs and of course Ford’s Centennial Ford GT. The Camillo Pardo design was presented in 2002 as a prototype to celebrate Ford’s upcoming 100th anniversary… public reaction was phenomenal and to everyone’s surprise it was launched into production in 2004. Ford worked with SSV (Saleen Specialty Vehicles) and Roush in order to create the niche vehicle. The program showcased Ford’s ingenuity and engineering capability.
As production neared Ford was searching for suppliers to build components for the company’s new Pace car. The hood design being very intricate limited the manufacturing possibilities. As the launch date approached they selected to have the hood made in hand lamination. A series of molds were made and production was kicked off.
In 2005 ACS meets the Ford GT team at SSV. Visiting the Ford GT plant was one of the most breathtaking experiences to date. Walking into a warehouse and seeing hundreds of completed Ford GT’s all waiting for its last component, the front hood, was overwhelming. With over a dozen molds and a huge staff prepping and sanding hood panels the mountain seemed too high to climb. A class A panel needs to be perfect; painting, baking, stripping, paint buffing are all labor intensive procedures. The slightest imperfection in a panel will breakthrough and cost the plant thousands of dollars and most importantly keep another Ford GT owner waiting for his life long dream.
Most aftermarket hood panels are hand laminated, the traditional and simplest of composite process. Corvettes were originally built this way and still today almost all aftermarket panels are either hand laminated or infused. The process uses an open female mold and gel coat is sprayed on. Once cured a layer of fiberglass mat is layed or chopped on. Liquid catalyzed resin is applied to soak the fiberglass. The labor intensive process requires a technician to remove any air pockets and manage the part thickness by properly distributing the glass in the mold. A slightly more sophisticated approach is to vacuum infuse the resin. Once completed the part is cured at room temperature. Once produced both parts will cosmetically look great, the quality of the composition itself is dependent on the technician’s ability.
Assembly and preparation; a good fitting hood needs to match the fenders. Proper arc and adequate stack height are critical. In order to do this, hand laminated or infused parts need to be verified for part thickness. If parts are too thick they need to be sanded and matched up. The assembly will then be sanded, primed and prepared for paint. With a gel coated part it is near impossible to inspect underneath. Small air pockets may be present, during bake or exposure to extreme heat like on a hot summer day, the air pocket will expands and cause a blister. On a production line, the deficiency is very costly, part will need to be returned to the body shop for inspection and if possible rework and repaint.
After establishing some critical specifications for ACS’s new Ford GT Hood, a timeline was set to deliver a first article matching the engineer’s specification with a 6 week tooling and testing period. The Ford GT Hood is ACS’s most complex part, weighing only 18 lbs and requiring a glass content of 40%. ACS’s proprietary RTM process was a perfect match for the GT’s requirements.
At the end of the production run, ACS delivered and ramped up production to 64 hoods a week with only one set of molds, reducing the assembly’s plant fall out rate by 80%, drastically reducing the overall cost of the hood, and most importantly improved the quality of an American Legend. Today all of ACS’s hoods are built following the exact procedures proven on the Ford’s GT and of course the 4th gen Camaro SS.
New ACS Ford GT WD (Wiper Delete) Hood (2009)
The centennial Ford GT prototype was a design marvel. It proved Ford can build a world class supercar honoring the original… The original design was kept, but like any concept car some modifications are needed in order to comply with safety regulations. Most noticeably on the GT is the rear bumper and the addition of wipers.
Car collector and enthusiast take pride in their vehicles and enjoy the possibility of personalizing their vehicles. After many request ACS is addressing Ford GT owners with a true passenger side wiper delete hood. ACS’s GT WD hood is built the exact same way as the original using the same materials and specifications; of course the wiper arm notch has been eliminated for a smooth clean look. Owners will appreciate the added visibility on the track and collectors will pride in restoring the car the way Ford designers intended.
Filed under: ACS RTM Process, Ford GT Hood, Hood | 1 Comment »