Ford GT40


GT40_V2Ford’s answer to beat Ferrari back in the late 60′s for long distance racing and one of my cars of choice in Gran Turismo 5, the GT40 certainly done that, winning 4 times in a row at Le Mans from 1966, ’67, ’68 and ’69. The car was named the GT (for Grand Touring) with the 40 representing its overall height of 40 inches (1.02 m, measured at the windshield) as required by the rules. Large displacement Ford V8 engines (4.2 litre, 4.7 litre and 7 litre) were used, compared with the Ferrari V12 which displaced 3.0 litres or 4.0 litres.

MKI
The Mk I was the original Ford GT40. Early prototypes were powered by 4.2 litre alloy V8 engines and production models were powered by 4.7 litre engines as used in the Ford Mustang. Five prototype models were built with roadster bodywork, including the Ford X-1.

MKII
The Mk II used the 7.0 litre FE engine from the Ford Galaxie. In 1966, the 7.0 litre Ford GT 40 began dominating the world famous “24 Hours of Le Mans” race in France. In 1966 the GT 40 took Europe by surprise and beat Ferrari to finish 1-2-3 in the standings. The Ford team went on to win the race four consecutive years. (1966-1969) For Daytona 1967, two Mk II models (chassis 1016 and 1047) were fitted with Mercury 7.0 liter 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. A batch of wrongly heat treated input shafts in the transaxles sidelined virtually every Ford in the race, however, and Ferrari won 1-2-3.

MKIII
The Mk III was a road-car only, of which 7 were built. The car had four headlamps, the rear part of the body was expanded to make room for luggage, the 4.7 litre engine was detuned to 335 bhp, the shocks were softened, the shift lever was moved to the center 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.

MKIV
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 and some other parts, the Mk IV was totally different from other GT40s, using a specific chassis and specific bodywork. 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 negated most of the weight saving of the honeycomb-panel construction. Dan Gurney often complained about the weight of the Mk IV, since the car was 600 pounds (270 kg) heavier than the Ferraris he raced. 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 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. The installation of the roll cage was ultimately credited by many with saving the life of Mario Andretti, who crashed violently in a Mk. IV during the 1967 Le Mans, but escaped with minor injuries. Unlike the earlier Mk.I – III cars, which were built in England, the Mk.IVs were built in America by Kar Kraft. Le Mans 1967 remains the only truly all-American victory in Le Mans history – American drivers, team, chassis, engine and tyres. A total of 6 Mk IVs were constructed. 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.

Social tagging: > > >

Leave a Reply