Ford GT40

The Ford GT40 is a high-performance endurance racing car with the Mk I, Mk II, and Mk III model cars being based upon the British Lola Mk6, and were designed and built in England, while the GT40 Mk IV model was designed and built in the United States. The range was powered by a series of American-designed and built engines modified for racing. The GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969 (1966 being the Mk II, 1967 the Mk IV, and 1968–1969 the oldest chassis design, the Mk I), including a 1-2-3 finish in 1966. In 1966, with Henry Ford II personally in attendance at Le Mans, the Mk II GT40 provided Ford with the first overall Le Mans victory for an American manufacturer,[5][6] and the first victory for an American manufacturer at a major European race since Jimmy Murphy's triumph with Duesenberg at the 1921 French Grand Prix. The Mk IV GT40 that won Le Mans in 1967 is the only car designed and built entirely in the United States to achieve the overall win at Le Mans.[7]

The GT40 was originally produced to win long-distance sports car races against Ferrari (who won at Le Mans six times in a row from 1960 to 1965). Ford/Shelby chassis #P-1075, which won in 1968 and 1969, is the second car in Le Mans history to win the race more than once, using the same chassis (originally believed to be the first, this was later proven wrong when it was revealed that the Ferrari 275P chassis 0816 that won the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans was in fact the same chassis that won the 1963 24 Hours of Le Mans, that year in 250P configuration and with a 0814 chassis plate). Using an American Ford V-8 engine, originally of 4.7-liter displacement capacity (289 cubic inches), it was later enlarged to the 4.9-liter engine (302 cubic inches), with custom designed alloy GurneyWeslake cylinder heads.

The car was named the GT (for Grand Touring) with the 40 representing its height of 40 inches (1.02 m), measured at the windshield, as required by the rules. Large-displacement Ford V8 engines (4.2-liter, 4.7-liter and 7-liter) were used, compared with the Ferrari V12, which displaced 3.0 liters or 4.0 liters.

Early cars were simply named "Ford GT". The name "GT40" was the name of Ford's project to prepare the cars for the international endurance racing circuit, and the quest to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The first 12 "prototype" vehicles carried serial numbers GT-101 through GT-112. The "production" began and the subsequent cars—the MkI, MkII, MkIII, and MkV (with the exception of the MkIV, which were numbered J1-J12)—were numbered GT40P/1000 through GT40P/1145, and thus officially "GT40s". The name of Ford's project, and the serial numbers dispel the story that "GT40" was "only a nickname."

The contemporary Ford GT is a modern homage to the GT40.

Ford GT40
GT40 at Goodwood
Overview
Manufacturer
Production1964-1969[1]
105 produced[2]
Assembly
Body and chassis
ClassGroup 4 sports car
Group 6 sports prototype
Body style
Powertrain
Engine
  • 4181 cc (255 CID) V-8
  • 4737 cc (289 CID) V-8
  • 4942 cc (302 CID) V-8
  • 6997 cc (427 CID) V-8
Transmission5-speed manual
Dimensions
Wheelbase95 in (2,413 mm)[3]
Length160 in (4,064 mm)
Width70 in (1,778 mm)
Height40.5 in (1,029 mm)
Curb weight2,682 lb (1,217 kg) (1966, Mk IIA)[4]
Chronology
SuccessorFord P68 (racing heritage)
Ford GT (street heritage)
Le Mans 1966
Henry Ford II along with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon celebrates the first victory for an American manufacturer at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the podium in 1966.
Ford GT40 (front)
Ford GT40 Mk II front. This car took second place overall (all three top finishers were Ford GT40s) in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. The #1 car was driven by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby, and together with the #2 car driven by Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon (1st overall) and #5 car driven by Bucknum/Hutcherson (3rd overall) gave Ford its first victory in a 24-hour race. The photo shows the livery as used at Le Mans in 1966. (Serial Number GT-40 P 1015 Mk. II)

History

Henry Ford II had wanted a Ford at Le Mans since the early 1960s. In early 1963, Ford reportedly received word through a European intermediary that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling to Ford Motor Company. Ford reportedly spent several million dollars in an audit of Ferrari factory assets and in legal negotiations, only to have Ferrari unilaterally cut off talks at a late stage due to disputes about the ability to direct open wheel racing. Ferrari, who wanted to remain the sole operator of his company's motor sports division, was angered when he was told that he would not be allowed to race at the Indianapolis 500 if the deal went through since Ford fielded Indy cars using its own engine, and didn't want competition from Ferrari. Enzo cut the deal off out of spite and Henry Ford II, enraged, directed his racing division to find a company that could build a Ferrari-beater on the world endurance-racing circuit.[8]

To this end Ford began negotiation with Lotus, Lola, and Cooper. Cooper had no experience in GT or prototype and its performances in Formula One were declining.

Lotus was already a Ford partner for their Indy 500 project, but Ford executives doubted the ability of Lotus to handle this new project. Colin Chapman probably had similar views as he asked a high price for his contribution and insisted that the car (which became the Lotus Europa) should be named a Lotus-Ford.

The Lola proposal was chosen, since Lola had used a Ford V8 engine in their mid-engined Lola Mk6 (also known as Lola GT). It was one of the most advanced racing cars of the time, and made a noted performance in Le Mans 1963, even though the car did not finish, due to low gearing and slow revving out on the Mulsanne Straight. However, Eric Broadley, Lola Cars' owner and chief designer, agreed on a short-term personal contribution to the project without involving Lola Cars.

The agreement with Broadley included a one-year collaboration between Ford and Broadley, and the sale of the two Lola Mk 6 chassis builds to Ford. To form the development team, Ford also hired the ex-Aston Martin team manager John Wyer.[9] Ford Motor Co. engineer Roy Lunn was sent to England; he had designed the mid-engined Mustang I concept car powered by a 1.7-liter V4. Despite the small engine of the Mustang I, Lunn was the only Dearborn engineer to have some experience with a mid-engined car.

Overseen by Harley Copp, the team of Broadley, Lunn and Wyer began working on the new car at the Lola Factory in Bromley. At the end of 1963 the team moved to Slough, near Heathrow Airport. Ford then established Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd, a new subsidiary under the direction of Wyer, to manage the project.[9]

The first chassis built by Abbey Panels of Coventry was delivered on 16 March 1963, with fibre-glass mouldings produced by Fibre Glass Engineering Ltd of Farnham. The first "Ford GT" the GT/101 was unveiled in England on 1 April and soon after exhibited in New York. Purchase price of the completed car for competition use was £5,200.[10]

It was powered by the 4.7 L 289 cu in Fairlane engine with a Colotti transaxle, the same power plant was used by the Lola GT and the single-seater Lotus 29 that came in a highly controversial second at the Indy 500 in 1963.[11] (An aluminum block DOHC version, known as the Ford Indy Engine, was used in later years at Indy.[12] It won in 1965 in the Lotus 38.)

Racing history

1964 Ford GT40 proto GT.104
Prototype chassis GT 104, which finished third at the Daytona 2000 in 1965

The Ford GT40 was first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km race where it retired with suspension failure after holding second place early in the event. Three weeks later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, all three entries retired although the Ginther/Gregory car led the field from the second lap until its first pitstop. After a season-long series of dismal results under John Wyer in 1964, the program was handed over to Carroll Shelby after the 1964 Nassau race. The cars were sent directly to Shelby, still bearing the dirt and damage from the Nassau race. Carroll Shelby was noted for complaining that the cars were poorly maintained when he received them, but later information revealed the cars were packed up as soon as the race was over, and FAV never had a chance to clean, and organize the cars to be transported to Shelby.

Shelby's first victory came on their maiden race with the Ford program, with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby taking a Shelby American-entered Ford GT [13] to victory in the Daytona 2000 in February 1965. One month later Ken Miles and Bruce McLaren came in second overall (to the winning Chaparral in the sports class) and first in prototype class at the Sebring 12-hour race. The rest of the season, however, was a disappointment.

Ford GT40
Ford GT40 Mk I road version

The experience gained in 1964 and 1965 allowed the 7-liter Mk II to dominate the following year. In February, the GT40 again won at Daytona. This was the first year Daytona was run in the 24 Hour format and Mk II's finished 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. In March, at the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring, GT40's again took all three top finishes with the X-1 Roadster first, a Mk. II taking second, and a Mk. I in third. Then in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans the GT40 achieved yet another 1–2–3 result.

The Le Mans finish, however, was clouded in controversy: in the final few hours, the Ford GT of New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon closely trailed the leading Ford GT driven by Englishman Ken Miles and New Zealander Denny Hulme. With a multimillion-dollar program finally on the very brink of success, Ford team officials faced a difficult choice. They could allow the drivers to settle the outcome by racing each other—and risk one or both cars breaking down or crashing. They could dictate a finishing order to the drivers—guaranteeing that one set of drivers would be extremely unhappy. Or they could arrange a tie, with the McLaren/Amon and Miles/Hulme cars crossing the line side-by-side.

The team chose the last and informed McLaren and Miles of the decision just before the two got in their cars for the final stint. Then, not long before the finish, the Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO), organizers of the Le Mans event, informed Ford that the geographical difference in starting positions would be taken into account at a close finish. This meant that the McLaren/Amon vehicle, which had started perhaps 60 feet (18 m) behind the Hulme-Miles car, would have covered slightly more ground over the 24 hours and would therefore be the winner. Secondly, Ford officials admitted later, the company's contentious relationship with Miles, its top contract driver, placed executives in a difficult position. They could reward an outstanding driver who had been at times extremely difficult to work with, or they could decide in favour of drivers (McLaren/Amon) with less commitment to the Ford program but who had been easier to deal with. Ford stuck with the orchestrated photo finish but Miles, deeply bitter over this decision after his dedication to the program, issued his own protest by suddenly slowing just yards from the finish and letting McLaren across the line first. Miles died in a testing accident in the J-car (later to become the Mk IV) at Riverside (CA) Raceway just two months later.

Miles' death occurred at the wheel of the Ford "J-car", an iteration of the GT40 that included several unique features. These included an aluminum honeycomb chassis construction and a "breadvan" body design that experimented with "Kammback" aerodynamic theories. Unfortunately, the fatal Miles accident was attributed at least partly to the unproven aerodynamics of the J-car design, as well as the experimental chassis' strength. The team embarked on a complete redesign of the car, which became known as the Mk IV. The Mk IV, a newer design with a Mk II engine but a different chassis and a different body, won the following year at Le Mans (when four Mark IVs, three Mark IIs and three Mark Is raced). The high speeds achieved in that race caused a rule change, which already came in effect in 1968: the prototypes were limited to the capacity of 3.0 liters, the same as in Formula One. This took out the V12-powered Ferrari 330P as well as the Chaparral and the Mk. IV.

If at least 50 cars had been built, sportscars like the GT40 and the Lola T70 were allowed, with a maximum of 5.0 L. John Wyer's revised 4.7-liter (bored to 4.9 liter, and O-rings cut and installed between the block and head to prevent head gasket failure, a common problem found with the 4.7 engine) Mk I. It won the 24 hours of Le Mans race in 1968 against the fragile smaller prototypes. This result, added to four other round wins for the GT40, gave Ford victory in the 1968 International Championship for Makes. The GT40's intended 3.0 L replacement, the Ford P68, and Mirage cars proved a dismal failure. While facing more experienced prototypes and the new yet still unreliable 4.5 L flat-12-powered Porsche 917s, Wyer's 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Jacky Ickx/Jackie Oliver managed to beat the remaining 3.0-liter Porsche 908 by just a few seconds with the already outdated GT40 Mk I, in the very car that had won in 1968—the legendary GT40P/1075. Apart from brake wear in the Porsche and the decision not to change brake pads so close to the race end, the winning combination was relaxed driving by both GT40 drivers and heroic efforts at the right time by (at that time Le Mans' rookie) Ickx, who won Le Mans five more times in later years.

Le Mans 24 Hour victories

Le Mans 24 Hour victories
Distance Speed
Year Car Team Drivers Engine Tire/Tyre km mph km/h
1966[14] GT40P/1046 (Mk II) United States Shelby-American Inc. New Zealand Bruce McLaren
New Zealand Chris Amon
Ford 7.0L V8 G 4843.09 125.39 201.80
1967 J5 (Mk IV) United States Shelby-American Inc. United States Dan Gurney
United States A. J. Foyt
Ford 7.0L V8 G 5232.9 135.48 218.03
1968 GT40P/1075 (Mk I) United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd. Mexico Pedro Rodriguez
Belgium Lucien Bianchi
Ford 4.9 L V8 F 4452.88 115.29 185.54
1969 GT40P/1075 (Mk I) United Kingdom John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd. Belgium Jacky Ickx
United Kingdom Jackie Oliver
Ford 4.9 L V8 F 4997.88 129.40 208.25

International titles

In addition to four consecutive overall Le Mans victories, Ford also won the following four FIA international titles (at what was then unofficially known as the World Sportscar Championship) with the GT40:

Versions

Mk I

1969-06-01 Ford GT 40 von Kelleners-Jöst
A Ford GT40 Mk I competing in the 1969 Nurburgring 1000km race
Gulf Racer (8716645127)
Gulf racer
1968 Ford GT40 Mk I (14288662849)
1968 Ford GT40 Mk I

The Mk.I was the original Ford GT40. Early prototypes were powered by 4.2 L (255 cu in) alloy V8 engines [15] and production models were powered by 289 cu in (4.7 L) engines as used in the Ford Mustang. Five prototype models were built with roadster bodywork, including the Ford X-1.[1] Two lightweight cars (of a planned five) were built by Alan Mann Racing in 1966, with light alloy bodies and other weight-saving modifications.

The Mk.I met with little success in its initial tune for the 1964 and 1965 Le Mans races. The first success came after their demise at the Nassau Speed Weekend Nov 1964 when the racing was handed over to Carrol Shelby. Shelby's team modified the Ford GT40 and the first win at Daytona February 1965 was achieved. Much was later modified and run by John Wyer in 1968 and 1969, winning Le Mans in both those years and Sebring in 1969. The Mk.II and IV were both obsolete after the FIA had changed the rules to ban unlimited capacity engines, ruling out the 7.0 L (427 cu in) Ford V8. However, the Mk.I, with its smaller engine, was legally able to race.

In 1968 competition came from the Porsche 908 which was the first prototype built for the 3-liter Group 6. The result of the 1968 was resounding success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Pedro Rodríguez and Lucien Bianchi having a clear lead over the Porsches, driving the almighty #9 car with the 'Gulf Oil' colors.[16] The season began slowly for JW, losing at Sebring and Daytona before taking their first win at the BOAC International 500 at Brands Hatch. Later victories included the Grand Prix de Spa, 21st Annual Watkins Glen Sports Car Road Race and the 1000 km di Monza.[17] The engine installed on this car was a naturally aspirated Windsor 302 cu in (4.9 L) V8 engine with a compression ratio of 10.6:1 fuel feed by four 2-barrel 48 IDA Weber carburetors, rated at 425 hp (431 PS; 317 kW) at 6,000 rpm and a maximum torque of 395 lb⋅ft (536 N⋅m) at 4,750 rpm.[18]

X-1 Roadster

The X-1 was a roadster built to contest the Fall 1965 North American Pro Series, a forerunner of Can-Am, entered by the Bruce McLaren team and driven by Chris Amon. The car had an aluminum chassis built at Abbey Panels and was originally powered by a 4.7-liter (289 ci) engine. The real purpose of this car was to test several improvements originating from Kar Kraft, Shelby and McLaren. Several gearboxes were used: a Hewland LG500 and at least one automatic gearbox. It was later upgraded to Mk.II specifications with a 7.0-liter (427 ci) engine and a standard four ratio Kar Kraft (subsidiary of Ford) gearbox, however the car kept specific features such as its open roof and lightweight aluminum chassis. The car went on to win the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1966. The X-1 was a one-off and having been built in the United Kingdom and being liable for United States tariffs, was later ordered to be destroyed by United States customs officials.[19]

Mk II

Ford GT40 (rear)
Ford GT40 Mk II rear

The Mk.II was very similar in appearance to the Mk.I, but it actually was a bit different from its predecessor. It used the 7.0-liter FE (427 ci) engine from the Ford Galaxie, which was an engine used in NASCAR at the time, but the engine was modified for road course use. The car's chassis was more or less the same as the British-built Mk.I chassis, but it and other parts of the car had to be redesigned and modified by Carroll Shelby's organization in order to accommodate the larger and heavier 427 engine. A new Kar Kraft-built four-speed gearbox (same as the one described above; Ford-designed, using Galaxie gearsets) was built to handle the more powerful engine, replacing the ZF five-speed used in the Mk.I. This car is sometimes called the Ford Mk.II.

In 1966, the Mk.II dominated Le Mans, taking European audiences by surprise and beating Ferrari to finish 1-2-3 in the standings. After the success of these Mk.II cars, the Ford GT40 went on to win the race for the next three years.

For 1967, the Mk.IIs were upgraded to "B" spec; they had re-designed bodywork and twin carburetors for an additional 15 hp. A batch of improperly heat treated input shafts in the transaxles sidelined virtually every Ford in the race at Daytona, however, and Ferrari won 1-2-3. The Mk.IIBs were also used for Sebring and Le Mans that year, and also it won the Reims 12 Hours in France. For the Daytona 24 Hours, two Mk II models (chassis 1016 and 1047) had their engines re-badged as Mercury engines. Mercury was a Ford Motor Company division at that time, and Mercury's 427 was exactly the same engine as Ford's with different logos. Ford saw a good opportunity to advertise that division of the company.

Mk III

1963 Ford GT40 Mk.III (6315540555)
Ford GT40 Mk III

The Mk III was a road-car only, of which seven were built.[1] The car had four headlamps, the rear part of the body was expanded to make room for luggage, the 4.7-liter engine was detuned to 306 bhp (228 kW), the shock absorbers were softened, the shift lever was moved to the center, an ash tray was added, and the car was available with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. As the Mk III looked significantly different from the racing models many customers interested in buying a GT40 for road use chose to buy a Mk I that was available from Wyer Ltd. Of the seven MK III that were produced four were left hand drive. One of these examples is currently on display at the Petersen Automotive Museum.

J-car

1967 GT40 Mk IV at 2010 Canadian International AutoShow
1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV, which was developed from the J-car. This particular car, J-4, won the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring

In an effort to develop a car with better aerodynamics and lighter weight, it was decided to retain the 7-liter engine, but redesign the rest of the car and ditch the Mk.I/Mk.II chassis. In order to bring the car more "in house" and lessening partnership with English firms, Ford Advanced Vehicles was sold to John Wyer and the new car was designed by Ford's studios and produced by Ford's subsidiary Kar Kraft under Ed Hull. There was also a partnership with the Brunswick Aircraft Corporation for expertise on the novel use of honeycomb aluminium panels bonded together to form a lightweight, rigid "tub". The car was designated as the J-car, as it was constructed to meet the new Appendix J regulations [20] which were introduced by the FIA in 1966.[21]

The first J-car was completed in March, 1966 and set the fastest time at the Le Mans trials that year. The tub weighed only 86 lb (39 kg), and the entire car weighed only 2,660 lb (1,207 kg), 300 lb (136 kg) less than the Mk II. It was decided to run the MkIIs due to their proven reliability, however, and little or no development was done on the J-car for the rest of the season. Following Le Mans, the development program for the J-car was resumed, and a second car was built. During a test session at Riverside International Raceway in August 1966, with Ken Miles driving, the car suddenly went out of control at the end of Riverside's high-speed, 1-mile-long back straight. The honeycomb chassis did not live up to its design goal, shattering upon impact, bursting into flames and killing Miles. It was determined that the unique, flat-topped "bread van" aerodynamics of the car, lacking any sort of spoiler, were implicated in generating excess lift. Therefore, a more conventional but significantly more aerodynamic body was designed for the subsequent development of the J-car which was officially known as the Mk IV.[22] A total of nine cars were constructed with J-car chassis numbers although six were designated as Mk IVs and one as the G7A.[1]

Mk IV

Ford GT40 Mk IV
Ford GT40 Mk IV

The Mk IV was built around a reinforced J chassis powered by the same 7.0 L engine as the Mk II. Excluding the engine, gearbox, some suspension parts and the brakes from the Mk.II, the Mk.IV was totally different from other GT40s, using a specific, all new chassis and bodywork. It was undoubtedly the most radical and American variant of all the GT40's over the years. As a direct result of the Miles accident, the team installed a NASCAR-style steel-tube roll cage in the Mk.IV, which made it much safer, but the roll cage was so heavy that it negated most of the weight saving of the then-highly advanced, radically innovative honeycomb-panel construction. The Mk. IV had a long, streamlined shape, which gave it exceptional top speed, crucial to do well at Le Mans in those days (a circuit made up almost entirely of straights)- the race it was ultimately built for. A 2-speed automatic gearbox was tried, but during the extensive testing of the J-car in 1966 and 1967, it was decided that the 4-speed from the Mk.II would be retained. Dan Gurney often complained about the weight of the Mk.IV, since the car was 600 pounds (270 kg) heavier than the Ferrari 330 P4's. During practice at Le Mans in 1967, in an effort to preserve the highly stressed brakes, Gurney developed a strategy (also adopted by co-driver A.J. Foyt) of backing completely off the throttle several hundred yards before the approach to the Mulsanne hairpin and virtually coasting into the braking area. This technique saved the brakes, but the resulting increase in the car's recorded lap times during practice led to speculation within the Ford team that Gurney and Foyt, in an effort to compromise on chassis settings, had hopelessly "dialed out" their car. The car proved to be fastest in a straight line that year, thanks to its streamlined aerodynamics, achieving 212 mph on the 3.6-mile Mulsanne Straight.

The Mk. IV ran in only two races, the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans and won both events. Only one Mk.IV was completed for Sebring; the pressure from Ford had been amped up considerably after Ford's humiliation at Daytona two months earlier. Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren won Sebring, Dan Gurney and A. J. Foyt won Le Mans (Gurney and Foyt's car was the Mk.IV that was apparently least likely to win), where the Ford-representing Shelby-American and Holman & Moody teams showed up to Le Mans with 2 Mk.IV's each.[22] The installation of the roll cage was ultimately credited by many with saving the life of Andretti, who crashed violently at the Esses during the 1967 Le Mans 24 Hours, but escaped with minor injuries.

Unlike the earlier Mk.I - III cars, which were built in England, the Mk.IVs were built in the United States by Kar Kraft. Le Mans 1967 remains the only truly all-American victory in Le Mans history—American drivers, team, chassis, engine and tires. A total of six Mk IVs were constructed.[1] One of the Mk IVs was rebuilt to the Ford G7 in 1968, and used in the Can-Am series for 1969 and 1970, but with no success. This car is sometimes called the Ford Mk.IV.[1]

MkV

Peter Thorp had searched years looking for a GT40 in good condition. Most of the cars had problems including the dreaded rust issue. His company, Safir Engineering, was building and fielding Formula 3 race cars, in addition had a Token Formula One car purchased from the Ron Dennis Company, Rondell Racing. Formula One events in which Safir Engineering competed included Brands Hatch and Silverstone. Safir was also redesigning Range Rovers modifying the unit to six wheel drive, and exporting them to foreign markets. Safir technical capabilities were such that they could rebuild GT40s. It was with this in mind that Thorp approached John Willment for his thoughts. Wilment was of the same mindset, and discussions between the two were positive. It was soon decided that there would be a limited, further run of the significant GT40. JW Engineering would oversee the build, and Safir was to do the work. The continued JW Engineering/Safir Engineering production would utilize sequential serial numbers starting at the last used GT40 serial number, and move forward. Maintaining the GT40 Mark nomenclature, this continued production would be named GT40 MkV. These cars would carry JW Engineering chassis plates identical to those on all the GT40s produced by JW Engineering.

JW Engineering wished to complete the GT40 chassis numbers GT40P-1087, 1088 and 1089. This was supposed to take place prior to the beginning of Safir production, however the completion of these three chassis’ was very much delayed.

Ford's Len Bailey was hired to inspect the proposed build and engineer any changes he thought prudent to ensure the car was safe, as well as minimize problems experienced in the past. Baily changed the front suspension to Alan Mann specifications, which minimized nose dive under braking. Zinc coated steel replaced the previous uncoated rust prone sheet metal. The vulnerable drive donuts were replaced with CV joints and the leak prone rubber gas tanks were replaced with aluminum tanks. The GT40 chassis was upgraded without making any major changes.

Tennant Panels supplied the roof structure and the balance of the chassis was completed by Safir. JW Engineering employees were used where ever possible. Bill Pink, noted for his electrical experience and the wiring installation of previous GT40 automobiles, was brought in. Also, Jim Rose was hired for his experienced with working at both Alan Mann and Shelby. After the manufacture of chassis 1120, John Etheridge of JW Engineering was hired to manage the GT40 build. The chassis was supplied from Adams McCall Engineering and parts supplied from Tennant panels.

For the most part, the MkV resembled very closely the MkI car, although there were a few changes, and, as with the 60s production, very few cars were identical.

The first car, GT40P-1090, had an open top in place of roofed doors. Most motors were Ford small block, Webers or 4 Barrel Carburetor. Safir produced five Big Block GT40s, serial numbers GT40P-1128 to GT40P-1132. These aluminium big block cars all had easily removable door roof sections. Most GT40s were high performance street cars however some of the MkV production can be described as full race. Two road cars GT40P-1133 (roadster) and GT40P-1142 (roofed doors) were built as lightweights which included an aluminium honeycomb chassis and carbon fiber bodywork.

Complete files on each of these forty cars have been forwarded to authors and journalists known for maintaining accurate records on the GT40 automobile.

Continuation models, replicas and modernizations

Ford GT40 P-2090 at Road America
GT40/R Competition at Road America
1965 Ford GT40
A "Roaring Forties" replica of a 1965 Ford GT40 in Shelby livery on display at the 2005 United States Grand Prix

Several kit cars and replicas inspired by the Ford GT40 have been built. They are generally intended for assembly by the customer in a home workshop or garage. There are two alternatives to the kit car approach, either continuation models (exact and licensed replicas true to the original GT40), or modernizations (replicas with upgraded components, ergonomics & trim for improved usability, drivability and performance).

  • GT40/R Competition, United States: Authentic GT40 built by Superformance and co-designed with Pathfinder Motorsports. This is the only GT40 continuation licensed by Safir GT40 Spares LLC, the holders of the GT40 trademark. A GT40/R (GT40P/2094) campaigned by Pathfinder Motorsports with an engine built by Holman Moody won both the 2009 US Vintage Grand Prix and the 2009 Governor's Cup at Watkins Glen.[23]
  • Southern GT: Built in Botley, Southampton, UK. Specializing in GT40 Mk1 and Mk2, as well as Lola T70. Kit form or fully built to your specification.
  • CAV GT: Originally designed for customers to build as a kit, the CAV GT has evolved into a modernized replica that is now factory-built in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Holman Moody: GT40 Mark II won third at Le Mans in 1966, and can still manufacture a Holman GT from 1966 blueprints.
  • GT40 Spyder, United States: Built by E.R.A. Replica Automobiles in New Britain, CT, the Spyder is a MK2 Canadian American (CAN-AM) racing replica.[24]

Ford GT

At the 1995 North American International Auto Show, the Ford GT90 concept was shown and at the 2002 show, a new GT40 Concept was unveiled by Ford.

2005 Ford GT
2005 Ford GT

While similar in appearance to the original cars, it was bigger, wider, and 3 inches (76 mm) taller than the original 40 inches (1020 mm). Three production prototype cars were shown in 2003 as part of Ford's centenary, and delivery of the production Ford GT began in the fall of 2004. The Ford GT was assembled in the Ford Wixom plant and painted by Saleen, Incorporated at their Saleen Special Vehicles plant in Troy, Michigan.

A British company, Safir Engineering, who continued to produce a limited number of GT40s (the MkV) in the 1980s under an agreement with Walter Hayes of Ford and John Wilment of J.W. Automotive Engineering, owned the GT40 trademark at that time, and when they completed production, they sold the excess parts, tooling, design, and trademark to a small American company called Safir GT40 Spares, Limited based in Ohio. Safir GT40 Spares licensed the use of the GT40 trademark to Ford for the initial 2002 show car, but when Ford decided to make the production vehicle, negotiations between the two failed, and as a result the new Ford GT does not wear the badge GT40. Bob Wood, one of three partners who own Safir GT40 Spares, said: "When we talked with Ford, they asked what we wanted. We said that Ford owns Beanstalk in New York, the company that licenses the Blue Oval for Ford on such things as T-shirts. Since Beanstalk gets 7.5 percent of the retail cost of the item for licensing the name, we suggested 7.5 percent on each GT40 sold."[25] In this instance, Ford wished to purchase, not just license the GT40 trademark. At the then-estimated $125,000 per copy, 7.5% of 4,500 vehicles would have totalled approximately $42,187,500.[25] It was widely and erroneously reported following an Automotive News Weekly story that Safir "demanded" the $40 million for the sale of the trademark. Discussions between Safir and Ford ensued. However, in fact, the Ford Motor Company never made an offer in writing to purchase the famed GT40 trademark. Later models or prototypes have also been called the Ford GT but have had different numbering on them such as the Ford GT90 or the Ford GT70. The GT40 name and trademark is currently licensed to Superformance in the USA.

A second-generation Ford GT was unveiled at the 2015 North American International Auto Show. It features a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6 engine, carbon fiber monocoque and body panels, pushrod suspension and active aerodynamics. It will compete in the FIA World Endurance Championship and the United SportsCar Championship.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f Ford Chassis Numbers Retrieved on 27 January 2010
  2. ^ "Debut for 'last' GT40" Retrieved on 2 February 2017
  3. ^ Cardew, Basil (1966). Daily Express Review of the 1966 Motor Show. London: Beaverbrook Newspapers Ltd.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 6 September 2012. Retrieved 29 November 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ "Ford GT40 Mark II". Supercars.net. 1 March 2004. Retrieved 24 September 2010.
  6. ^ "1965 - 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II - Images, Specifications and Information". Ultimatecarpage.com. 21 December 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  7. ^ "The Collection". simeonemuseum.org.
  8. ^ Ray., Hutton,. Ford GT40. p. 12. ISBN 978-1907085680. OCLC 1019613496.
  9. ^ a b Comer, Colin (November 2012). "1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight". Sports Car Market. 24 (11): 46–47.
  10. ^ "Ford Press Release, January 1966. Ford GT40 Web Site Index GT 40 Replica Kit Sports Cars Le Mans Racing Sundt". gt40.co.uk.
  11. ^ Barry, David (August 2001). "The Lotus-Ford Plot to Overthrow the Offy Roadster" (doc). Vintage Motorsport Magazine.
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 3 May 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ Entries for the fourth annual Daytona Continental, 1965 Daytona Speedweeks Program No 2, 15–28 February 1965, www.racingsportscars.com Retrieved 7 June 2015
  14. ^ "1966 24 Hours of Le Mans Entry list".
  15. ^ "Nürburgring 1000 Kilometres 1964". Retrieved 18 April 2010.
  16. ^ Schlegelmilch, Rainer (9 May 2016). GP Library (ed.). "Posts Tagged 'Ford GT40 '1076". Primotipo.com. Retrieved 8 September 2018.
  17. ^ "1968 Ford GT40 Mark I 'Gulf Oil'". supercars.net. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  18. ^ "Ford GT40 Mk I Gulf specifications". ultimatecarpage.com. Retrieved 10 June 2018.
  19. ^ "Ford GT40 X1". supercars.net.
  20. ^ "Ford Mk IV". Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  21. ^ "Appendix J to the International Sporting Code" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 March 2005. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  22. ^ a b "1967 Ford GT40 Mark IV". supercars.net. Retrieved 23 February 2010.
  23. ^ "Events". Pathfindermotorsports.com. Archived from the original on 25 March 2012. Retrieved 9 August 2011.
  24. ^ "ERA Replica Automobiles".
  25. ^ a b Mateja, Jim (31 October 2003). "A GT by any other name is nixed by Ford". Chicago Tribune. Chicago. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2014.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)

Further reading

  • "17 Ford GT40s Stampede into Pebble Beach! We Dive into Their Histories" (with historic and modern photo gallery), by Don Sherman, Car and Driver, August 2016.
  • Auto Passion n°49 July 1991 (in French)
  • La Revue de l'Automobile historique n°7 March/April 2001 (in French)
  • Ford: The Dust and the Glory/A motor racing history by Leo Levine/1968
  • Ford vs. Ferrari: the Battle for Le Mans by Anthony Pritchard, 1984 Zuma Marketing
  • Ford GT-40: An Individual History and Race Record by Ronnie Spain 1986
  • Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans by A. J. Baime
  • 12 Hours of Sebring 1965 by Harry Hurst and Dave Friedman
1966 12 Hours of Sebring

The 1966 12 Hours of Sebring was an endurance race held at the 5.2 mile (8.3 km) Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida, United States on March 26, 1966. It was the sixteenth running of the endurance classic and the second round of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship season. The race proved to be a disastrous event; one of the darkest in American motorsports history.

1966 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 34th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 18 and 19 June 1966. It was also the seventh round of the 1966 World Sportscar Championship season. This was the first overall win at Le Mans for the Ford GT40 as well as the first overall win for an American constructor. It was also the debut Le Mans start for two significant drivers: Henri Pescarolo, who went on to set the record for the most starts at Le Mans; and Jacky Ickx, whose record of six Le Mans victories stood until beaten by Tom Kristensen in 2005.

1967 12 Hours of Reims

The 12 Hours of Reims (official name: 12 Heures internationales de Reims) were a sports car endurance racing series held from 1953 to 1967 at the circuit Reims (Gueux). The start of the race was at midnight in "LeMans style" (drivers running across the track) with the cars lined up in order of their fastest practice times.

1967 British Sports Car Championship

The 1967 British Sports Car Championship was the fourth season of the British Sports Car Championship.

1968 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 36th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 28 and 29 September 1968 on the Circuit de la Sarthe, in Le Mans, France.

Originally scheduled for the weekend of 15 and 16 June, the race had to be delayed until September due to protests, strikes, and civil unrest in France during the summer of 1968. The rescheduled race increased the chances of the Prototypes against the Sports, as the new Prototype cars had matured during the season. It also increased the amount of darkness that drivers would be racing in compared to June, by about three hours: a total of 11 hours. Its new date made it the tenth and final round of the 1968 World Sportscar Championship of a tense and close championship between Ford and Porsche.

The winners were Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi, in the J.W. Automotive Gulf-Oil Ford GT40. Despite Porsche finishing second and third, the victory was enough to give Ford the manufacturer's title.

There were also two major accidents during the race ending the racing careers of Willy Mairesse and Mauro Bianchi (Lucien's younger brother), who both suffered severe burns in the crashes.

1969 24 Hours of Le Mans

The 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 37th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 14 and 15 June 1969. It was the eighth round of the 1969 World Sportscar Championship season.

As it turned out, 1969 was the last event with the traditional "Le Mans" style start, in which the drivers run across the track to enter their cars, start them, and race away. The previous year, Willy Mairesse crashed on the first lap while trying to properly close the door of his car at speed on the Mulsanne Straight; the crash would have been avoided entirely if not for the Le Mans style start, and it ended Mairesse's racing career. Jacky Ickx famously staged his own one-man protest by walking the start, and taking his time doing up his belts. As if to underline the point, privateer John Woolfe had a very similar accident to Mairesse on the opening lap near Maison Blanche corner. Not strapped in properly yet, he was killed when the car flipped and broke up.

The race itself was one of the most exciting in the event's history. Having already wrapped up the World Sportscar Championship, Porsche were strong favourites to achieve their first outright win. Indeed, Porsche cars made up over a third of the starters and the mighty 917s held the lead for 90% of the race. But when the Elford/Attwood car's gearbox broke at 11am, it was the Ford of Ickx and Jackie Oliver that took over the lead. It then became a 3-hour sprint race with the Ford battling the pursuing Porsche 908 of Hans Herrmann and Gérard Larrousse non-stop. In the end it was the Ford GT40 – the identical car that had won the previous year – that took the chequered flag by just 120 metres after 24 hours.

1969 World Sportscar Championship

The 1969 World Sportscar Championship season was the 17th season of FIA World Sportscar Championship motor racing. It featured the 1969 International Championship for Makes, which was a series for FIA Group 6 Prototype Sports Cars, Group 4 Sports Cars and Group 3 Grand Touring Cars and the 1969 International Cup for GT Cars, which was restricted to Group 3 Grand Touring Cars. The season ran from 1 February 1969 to 10 August 1969 and comprised 10 races.

Porsche won both the International Championship for Makes and the International Cup for GT Cars.

Abbey Panels

Abbey Panels Ltd., originally The Abbey Panel & Sheet Metal Co. Ltd., was a Warwickshire-based coachbuilding company founded on Abbey Road, Nuneaton in 1941, initially assembling Supermarine Spitfires for the ongoing war effort. The original partners were Edward Loades, Les Bean, Bill Woodhall and Ernie Wilkinson. As the business grew they expanded to Old Church Road, Coventry before having their main manufacturing plant on the well known Bayton Road Industrial Estate in Exhall. In 1967, Ted Loades listed the business on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) and it became known as Loades PLC, with Abbey Panels its main brand, alongside Albany Zinc (castings), Loades Dynamics (machining) and Loades Design (automotive styling) (previously known as Descartes Design).

The company specialised in producing handmade prototype car bodies and did so for many notable car companies including: Bristol Cars, Lea Francis, Jaguar Cars, Rover, MG, Healey, Rolls Royce, Buick, Lincoln, Volvo and BMW amongst others. They fashioned the bodywork of cars such as the Le Mans winning Ford GT40, numerous Jaguars (XK120, C-type, D-type, E-type, XJ13, XJ220, XK180), the original Mark I Land Rover Station Wagon, Jim Clark's Lotus 38 and Stirling Moss's 1957 Pescara Grand Prix winning Vanwall. They also produced many specialist parts for the aerospace industry, particularly for Rolls-Royce plc, such as the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine duct of the Harrier Jump Jet.In 2002 the company stopped much of its manufacturing and began a phased closure of the Abbey Panels plant in Coventry. They continued to run their aerospace engineering and machining company for some time, and refocused their efforts on redeveloping their industrial properties.

Bob McLean (racing driver)

Bob McLean (September 24, 1933, in Australia – March 26, 1966) was a successful Canadian racing driver. McLean's driving career culminated in 1965 with the Canadian Driving Championship title. McLean died in 1966 at the Sebring International Raceway during an endurance race while driving a Ford GT40.

Continuation car

A continuation car is a special type of replica of a vehicle no longer in production by the original automaker. These cars are built according to the original standards and blueprints, although sometimes the term is also used to refer to vehicles featuring different mechanical parts (more modern engines, for instance). Continuations of the Ford GT40 and AC Cobra are relatively common, though expensive, due to the manual labor involved in production. The first continuation car was probably the Avanti II.

Ford GT90

The Ford GT90 is a high performance concept car that was developed and manufactured by American car maker Ford. It was unveiled in January, 1995 at the Detroit Auto Show.

Ford GT (disambiguation)

Ford GT is a mid-engine two-seater sports car produced for the 2005 to 2006 model years, and the 2016 to 2020 model years.

It may also refer to:

Ford GT40, a 1960s racing car

Ford GT70, a limited production rally sports car made by Ford of Britain in 1970

Ford GT90, a 1995 concept car

Galpin GTR1, a 2013 limited production sports car

Ford GTX1, a roadster model of the Ford GT

Ford Falcon GT, iconic Australian muscle carUnrelated to the cars above:

Ford GT75, a diesel lawn tractor

Ford Mustang GT, a V8-powered muscle car

Guy Ligier

Guy Camille Ligier (12 July 1930 – 23 August 2015) was a French racing driver and team owner. He maintained many varied and successful careers over the course of his life, including a racing driver and Formula One team owner.

Le Mans Legend

The Le Mans Legend is a vintage sports car race held during the 24 Hours of Le Mans festivities. Created in 2001, it was created by the Motor Racing Legends group, and supported by the ACO, organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Unlike other vintage events, these races only allow cars which previously ran at Le Mans. Specific eras of cars are run each year, with the era changing each year as deemed by the organizers. Cars run the full Circuit de la Sarthe just as they had originally done when they first raced, and are fully timed and scored based on their classes.

Famous Le Mans drivers have often driven in the event, driving cars they had previously run. Stirling Moss was among the notables in recent years, while amateur drivers mostly make up the rest of the field. Dr. Ulrich Bez, former CEO of Aston Martin from 2000-2013, has also raced in the event, driving the 1959 winning DBR1 in 2007. A record 61 cars were seen in the event in 2007.

Lucien Bianchi

Lucien Bianchi (10 November 1934 – 30 March 1969), born Luciano Bianchi, was an Italian-Belgian racing driver who raced for the Cooper, ENB, UDT Laystall and Scuderia Centro Sud teams in Formula One. He entered a total of 19 Formula One World Championship races, scoring six points and had a best finish of third at the 1968 Monaco Grand Prix.

He died in a testing crash in preparation for the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Mark Donohue

Mark Neary Donohue Jr. (March 18, 1937 – August 19, 1975), nicknamed "Captain Nice," and later "Dark Monohue," was an American racecar driver known for his ability to set up his own race car as well as driving it to victories.Donohue is probably best known as the driver of the 1500+ bhp "Can-Am Killer" Porsche 917-30 and as the winner of the Indianapolis 500 in 1972. Cars that Donohue raced include: AMC Javelin, AMC Matador, Chevrolet Camaro, Eagle-Offy, Elva Courier, Ford GT40 MK IV, Ferrari 250LM, Ferrari 512, Lola T70, Lola T330, Lotus 20, McLaren M16, Porsche 911, Porsche 917/10, Porsche 917/30, Shelby Cobra, and Shelby Mustang GT350R.

Porsche 907

The Porsche 907 was a sportscar racing prototype built by Porsche in 1967 and 1968.

Roger McCluskey

Roger McCluskey (August 24, 1930 – August 29, 1993) was an American race car driver. He was from Tucson, Arizona.

He won championship titles in three divisions of USAC -Sprints, Stocks, and Champ Cars. He won the USAC Sprint Car title in 1963 and 1966, the USAC Stock Car title in 1969 and 1970. The Champ Car title in 1973. His first USAC Stock Car start resulted in a runner-up finish in Phoenix, Arizona in January 1968, when he drove as a substitute driver for Norm Nelson.

McCluskey earned four USAC Midget Car wins, 23 USAC Sprint Car wins, 23 USAC Stock Car wins and five USAC Championship Car (national championship) wins (including his last start at Milwaukee in 1979, which is a rarety since most drivers don't win their last race in their career). He was the USAC national champion in 1973. He started every Indianapolis 500 race from 1961 to 1979 except 1964, with a best finish of 3rd in 1973.

He also made four NASCAR Grand National (now Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series) starts from 1969 to 1977 with a best finish of second in 1970 at Riverside International Raceway.

He represented the USAC series in the 1974 International Race of Champions.

McCluskey raced for the Holman and Moody team in a Ford GT40 Mk.IIB at the 1967 LeMans 24hrs of Endurance, France. During this event, McCluskey is credited with pulling Mario Andretti to safety-and thus saving his life-after Andretti had seriously crashed his Ford GT40 Mk.IV when a front brake locked.

McCluskey died on August 29, 1993, just five days after his 63rd birthday after a long battle with cancer. In 2004 the local United Sports Arizona Race Park hosted the Roger McCluskey Sprint Car Classic in his honor.

Roy Lunn

Royston Charles Lunn (June 26, 1925 – August 5, 2017) was an engineer in the automotive industry. He had forty-one years in the design development and production of vehicles and most notably served as the head of engineering at American Motors Corporation (AMC) from 1971 to 1987. Lunn is credited as being the "father of the modern SUV" and "the godfather of the Ford GT40."

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