The Ford GT40 was born from the ambition of Henry Ford II who wanted to have a Ford at Le Mans, but there is another side to the story…
In 1963, Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling to the Ford Company, at the condition that he remained in control of Ferrari’s Motorsport division. Ford did not agree to those terms and informed Ferrari that they would also not be able to compete at the Indy 500 because the Indy Cars were using Ford engines.
After Ford spent millions in Audit and Legal counsel on Ferrari’s assets, Enzo decided to cut all talks and cancel the deal, which infuriated Ford and made him want to take revenge on the race track by instructing his team to build a Ferrari-beater.
Ford then approached Lotus, Cooper and Lola to complete the project. While cooper lacked experience in endurance racing, Colin Chapman (Lotus) was potentially interested but asked for a high price and that the car was named the Lotus-Ford (which became the Lotus Europa), so Ford then turned to Lola.
Eric Broadley, owner and Chief Designer of Lola cars agreed to sell two Lola Mk6 chassis to Ford, even though they remained in England for assembly where the 4.2L Fairlane engine was fitted (same used in the Lola GT). On the 16th of March 1963, the very first Ford GT/101 was unveiled and could be purchased “competition ready” for £5,200!
There is also a story behind the iconic GT40 name. Indeed, people used to believe that GT40 was just a nickname, but it was actually the official serial number of all series except for the first 12 prototypes and the MkIV, and while GT stands for “Grand Touring”, the number 40 represents the height of the car in inches.
Ford achieved their wild goal in 1966 by stopping Ferrari’s domination at Le Mans (they won from 1960 to 1965) and placing their 3 cars ahead of everyone else with Bruce McLaren at the wheel. They kept on winning the most coveted trophy for the next 3 years until Porsche came in 1970 with their updated 917.
In 2017, JD Classic’s Ford GT40 achieved some amazing results with Chris Ward at the wheel by winning the Goodwood Witsun Trophy and more recently the Spa 6 Hours finishing a lap ahead of another JD Classic’s GT40.
#TheMechanists #Ford #GT40 #LeMans #Legend #SPA @JDclassics #EnduranceRacing #Motorsport #Racing #LeMans24 #Spa6hours #Goodwood