Since 1960, Henry Ford II wanted to have a Ford race at Le Mans. After dealings with Ferrari fell through, Ford decided to produce his own car and began negotiations with Lola Cars manager Eric Broadley. The agreement between the two called for a yearlong collaboration that included the sale of two Lola MK 6 chassis to Ford. Soon after Ford hired ex-Aston Martin team manager John Wyer to work with Ford Motor Co. engineer Roy Lunn on what was to become the Ford GT.
The original GT40 and MK1, designed by Lunn, was prepared at the specially established, Ford Advanced Vehicles in the UK. Abbey Panels constructed the advanced monocoque chassis and the drive train finally chosen was the 289 Ford V8 mated to a Coletti transaxle. During the GT40’s racing history a variety of Ford engines and even a ZF transaxle were used.
The Ford GT made its debut at Nurburgring in May 1964 and followed up the appearance with 24h of Le Mans.
The cars failed to finish both races – a devastating blow to Team Ford. Although they were not successful at LeMans in 64 or 65, their obvious potential led Ford to continue racing them and in 1966 Ford and the MKII made American racing history with a dominating one, two, and three finish over Ferrari at Le Mans. The cars prepared for the 1966 Le Mans win were the American developed MK11’s which were fitted with the 427 cu ins FE motor and Ford built T44 transaxle. After Ford stopped racing privateer teams continued racing and winning with GT 40’s all over the world including two more LeMans events in 1998 and 1999.
The GT 40 has won more prestigious race events than any other model road-race car in history.
All images are under copyright © Laurent Nivalle