Automobile’s sweetest revenge of all times
Ford GT40 was an idea that was conceived out of Henry Ford II urge to take revenge on Ferrari and boy what a way to get even. In the 50s and 60s Ferrari used to dominate the racing tracks and Ford wanting to have a share of the limelight wanted to buy the Italian company.
However, Enzo Ferrari wanted to control the racing operations as he considered the production company just as a means of financing his racing projects but Ford would have none of it and wanted the whole thing. Ford didn’t want to race the Ferrari’s along with his Ford vehicle. The two failed to reach an agreement and Enzo pulled out of the deal leaving Henry Ford very infuriated. Ford later issued a command to his performance department to produce a car that would rout the Ferrari at the race tracks.
Ford department didn’t have the skills and sought help from John Wyer who was a former Aston Martin’s racing manager. Within months the vehicle was ready but it was a disaster and would go on to retire early due to mechanical problems. Not giving up the company sought help from Shelby and they got it right with the second version of the Ford GT40.
Suddenly, the racing world became Ford’s, the vehicle started the dominance at the 1966’s Daytona 2000 where the vehicle won 1-2-3 and repeated the same feat in Sebring but the sweetest one was the podium sweep at the Le Mans in June of the same year ending Ferrari’s 6 years of dominance. The GT40 would go on to win at Lemans for four consecutive years.
Ford GT40 – A legend driven by legends
Almost all who’s who of automotive legends drove this car. The likes of Bruce McLaren, A.J. Foyt, Jackie Ickx and Dan Gurney all drove the Ford GT40 to victory. These drivers were everywhere on the international circuit at the time.
The GT40 tuned the Le Mans into its little playground winning consecutively in 1967 all the through to 1969.
Unmatched tale of all time
The sweet victories of the GT40 left sour tastes on mouths of many automakers at the time. Many went into overdrive trying to make a GT40 slayer and in 1970 the car got its match in the form of Porsche 917 which not only outshone the GT40 but rendered it obsolete.
However, though the Ferraris and the Porsche 917 won numerous titles at Le Mans and other races, they never captured the general attention of the public as the GT40. This was due to the GT40s unique tale of revenge which featured fast cars, huge egos of Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari as well as huge piles of dollars.
America is still waiting for a GT40 successor
The story proved that Americans could outshine the Europeans in making fast cars which was impossible until the Ford GT40 1966 Le Man’s victory. Since then American race cars have found the going at the Le Mans tough after Ford stopped racing their GT40 at the races. Though American drivers have raced to victory and American vehicles have gone to win their specific races, America is still waiting for the first car to win the overall title since the last crown of the Ford GT40 back in 1969 and who knows, Ford might yet again hold the key to this feat.
The 50th Anniversary
The original Ford GT40 remains one of the most sought after cars and in 2012, a 1968 model was sold at a whopping $ 11 million. To celebrate its 50th Anniversary of its memorable racing year, Ford is planning to release a new GT sportscar purely targeted to the track just like the GT40 of 1963. We are all waiting to see whether the new machine will reach the same heights as its legendary ancestor.
The upcoming GT specs
Far from what many people expected, Ford has equipped the GT Le Mans Racer with a dual-turbocharged 3.5 L EcoBoost V6 engine which produces 630 hp and 539 lb-ft of torque. Ford achieves all this power from the small engine courtesy of a host of enhancements which include dual turbochargers, and combined direct/port injection system.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via a 7-speed dual-clutch transaxle. There is no manual transmission for this model. The automaker didn’t reveal details on its acceleration, speed or fuel economy. However, we understand that the GT40 will break the 4 second barrier in the 0-60 mph dash. It will have a top speed of around 200 mph.
Only 250 units of the Ford GT Le Mans Racer will be produced. Earlier during the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, Ford Performance Manager Dave Pericak said that the vehicle would have a price close to that of the Lamborghini Aventador which has a starting price of $ 397,500. The Ford GT Le Mans Racer which was first showcased at the Detroit Auto show was also showcased at the Los Angeles Auto show in November. The vehicle will make its maiden race debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January next year. I
n Europe, it will make its racing debut at the 6 Hours of Silverstone on April 17th next year. The vehicle will then make the most anticipated Le Mans debut in June. Unlike the 1960s heydays, the new GT will compete in the GTE-Pro Class which is for production-based cars but it will still face competition from the likes of Aston Martins and Ferraris.
You never know, Ford may be our best hope in ending the dominance of the European supercars at the race tracks yet again.