Ford GT40 History
Henry Ford established Ford Advanced Vehicles (FAV) specifically for development of their forthcoming racing car.
The first complete car was unveiled in England on 1 April and was exhibited in New York soon thereafter.
The GT40 was named from “GT” (Grand Touring) and “40” (the total height of the car in inches).
The Ford GT40 was first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km race.
The car was forced to retire with suspension failure and three more GT40s suffered the same fate at the 24 Hours of Le Mans three weeks later.
The GT40 was handed over to the renowned Caroll Shelby – the cars still bearing the dirt and damage from the most recent race.
Under Shelby’s direction the Ford GT40 claimed victory at the Daytona 2000 in February 1965.
This was the GT40’s first racing victory and it marked the beginning of what has become the GT40 legend.
From 1966 to 1969 the Ford GT40 was dominant.
A 7-litre V8 engine was introduced (upgraded from the original 4.2-litre mill); escalating the GT40’s standing at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The heroic result was total occupation of the podium by the Mk II GT40, raising the racing tally to four podium finishes.
The winning trend continued as Ford fielded four Mk IV, three Mk II and three Mk I GT40s at Le Mans.
The Mk IV design claimed the top position and simultaneously caused race authorities to amend the speed regulations as a result of the extreme speeds reached on the track that year.
As a result of the GT40’s extreme speed, the 1968 season saw racing prototypes limited to an engine capacity of 3.0-litres. This saw the disqualification of, among others, the Ferrari 330P and the Mk IV GT40.
However, a further amendment permitted a maximum engine capacity of 5.0-litres if at least 50 cars had been built to-date.
To take full advantage, one of the first MkI GT40s was resurrected and the engine bored from 4.7-litres to 4.9-litres. With these changes, the GT40 won at Le Mans yet again; claiming the 1968 title – the fourth consecutive win – and placing the Ford GT40 as the victor in the 1968 International Championship for Makes.