Ford GT40

From Academic Kids

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A 1965 Ford GT40 in Shelby livery on display at the 2005 United States Grand Prix
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GT40 Mk II front. This car won the 24 h. of Daytona 1966 driven by Ken Miles and Loyd Ruby, giving Ford its first victory in a 24 hour race. (Serial Number GT-40 P 1015 Mk. II)
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GT40 Mk II rear

The Ford GT40 was a notable sports car and winner of the 24 hours of Le Mans four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969. It was built to win long-distance sports car races against Ferrari (who had won at Le Mans four times in a row 1958–62).

Henry Ford II had wanted a Ford at Le Mans since the early 1960s. Initially, Ford attempted to buy Ferrari, but after negotiations broke down in 1963 over ownership and control of the racing program, Ford decided to produce its own car instead. To this end, Ford established a small subsidiary, Ford Advanced Vehicles in Slough, England and began negotiation with Lotus, Lola, and Cooper. Cooper had no experience in GT or prototype and its performances in Formula One were declining. The Lotus Europa was the design put forth by Lotus, who had won in Indianapolis with the 4.2 L Fairline engine. But the Lola proposal was chosen, since Lola had used a Ford engine in their Lola GT that made a noted performance in Le Mans 1962.

Thus Ford began working closely with the Lola company, the resulting car was named GT40 after the Gran Turismo category it was intended to compete in (in fact the car was never homologated in GT) and its overall height of 40 inches (1.02 m) measured at the windscreen. Big Ford V8 engines (4.7 L and 7 L) were used, compared to the V12 of Ferrari which had 3 or 4 litres.

The original GT40 first raced in May 1964 at the Nurburgring 1000 km race and later at the 24 hours of Le Mans, and was not very successful with all three cars retiring. The experience gained then and in 1965 allowed the Mark II to dominate the race in 1966 with a 1-2-3 finish. The Mark IV, a newer design with a narrower roof and hence more compact cockpit, won the following year (when four Mark IVs, three Mark IIs and three Mark Is raced).

After a rules change for 1968 which limited the capacity of Prototypes to 3 litres (same as in Formula One), but allowed a maximum of 5 litre capacity for the Sports (where at least 50 had been built), a revised Mark I won the 24 hours of Le Mans race in 1968 and 1969 against the fragile smaller prototypes. In 1969, the winners Ickx/Oliver managed to beat the Porsche 908 by just a few seconds, mainly due to the heroic efforts of Jacky Ickx, who managed to win Le Mans 5 times more in later years. In 1970, the new Porsche 917 dominated the Sportscars with its 5 litre flat V12 engine, and the outdated GT40 was obsolete.


Various versions

The Mark I is the original Ford GT40, early prototype where by powered by 4,2L (255ci)engine production model used were powered by 4,7L (289ci) engines.

The Mark II was the 7L (427ci) version.

The Mark III was a road-car only, of which 7 were built. The car had four headlights, the rear part of the body was expanded to make room for luggage, the 289ci engine was detuned to 335bhp, the shocks were softened, the shift lever is moved to the center and the car was available with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. The most famous Mark III is GT40 M3 1105, a blue left steered one delivered in 1968 in Austria to Herbert von Karajan. As the Mark III wasn't very appealing aesthetically, many customers interrested in buying a GT40 for road use choosed to buy a Mark I that was available in a street version.

The Mark IV were powered by the same 7L engine than the Mark II. Except the engine the Mark IV is totaly different from other GT40 using a specific chassis including honeycomb aluminium panels (the J chassis) and a specific bodywork.

For Daytona 1967 two Mark II were branded Mercury 7 L. Mercury is a Ford Motor Company division, this was only a stickers change.

Chassis numbers

Early chassis (commonly named prototype chassis) are branded GT and have a three digits number (GT 101 to GT 112).

Production chassis are branded GT 40 P (P for Production) and have a four digits number (GT 40 P 1000 to GT 40 P 1086 and GT 40 P 1108 to 1114).

Prototypes chassis and production chassis were built by Abbey Panels.

Two Mark I lightweight chassis were build by Alan Mann Racing they are numbered AM GT 1 and AM GT 2, these chassis use incorporate panels in elektron light alloy.

Most Mark IIs were build on Mark Is chassis with additional strengthening using, they random prototype or production chassis numbers. However as other Ford partners were owerworked at that time three chassis numbered XGT 1 to XGT 3 were build buy by Alan Mann Racing for Le Mans 1966. Unlike Alan Mann's Mark Is chassis these chassis don't show any significant difference with those build by Abbey Panels for FAV/John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd.

GT40 Mark III use chassis numbers GT 40 M3 1101 to GT 40 M3 1107.

Ford J and GT 40 Mark IV used J chassis twelwe chassis numbered J1 to J12 were build. Some replacement chassis were never used.


In the early 1980s, new "Group C" rules required Sportcars to have a height of 100 cm, and Ford built its C100 as a successor to the GT40. The successful Cosworth DFV F1 engine was modified to a 3.9 L DFL, but its vibrations caused problems in long races. The newly introduced Porsche 956 dominated at Le Mans in 1982 with a 1-2-3 victory, and Ford abandoned the C100.

Modern interpretations

At the 1995 Detroit Motor Show, the Ford GT90 concept was shown and at the 2002 Detroit Auto Show, a new GT40 Concept was unveiled by Ford, similar to the original cars, but bigger, wider, and especially taller than the original 40 inches (1.02 m), so it should have been named GT43. This car is to be put on sale in 2003 as part of Ford's centenary. Curiously, Ford had never claimed "GT40" as a trademark. Demands of $40 million from Safir for the name were rejected, and the car was introduced in 2003 as the "Ford GT".

Le Mans records
Year CarDriversmileskmmphkm/h
1966Mk IIChris Amon, Bruce McLaren3009.44,843.2125.39201.80
1967Mk IVDan Gurney, A. J. Foyt2630.24,232.9 135.48218.03
1968Mk IPedro Rodriguez, Lucien Bianchi2766.94,452.9 115.29185.54
1969Mk IJacky Ickx, Jackie Oliver3105.64,998.0 129.40208.25

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