Think of the word supercar. Without a doubt, the Ford GT entered your mind at some point within the first 5 seconds. After all, this is a legendary American car. But have you ever wondered about this history of this marvel? It all started back with the Ford GT40
When looking at the classic race car from the 1960s, you’ll undoubtedly spot a handful of shared design choices with the GTs of today. Plus, there’s a pretty epic story behind this car’s creation. So if you’re ready to explore the history and design of one of America’s finest cars, then join us as we take a look all the Ford GT40 had to offer.
Story Time: The Classic Ferrari vs. Ford Grudge Match
As we all know, Ford was an automotive giant back in the day. And back in 1963, Enzo Ferrari found his company in need of some help. So after months of negiotiations (and millions of dollars) things were finally coming to a close. Ford was on the verge of buying Ferrari! But at the last minute, Enzo Ferrari stormed out of the deal upon realizing he’d need to give up his brand’s race team—sending Henry Ford II back to the US with nothing.
You could imagine Henry Ford II’s frustration at this point. So he did what any sensible American would do: Demand his company design a legendary racecar so great it would DESTROY anything Enzo Ferrari created at Le Mans. And that’s the nicer version of Ford’s words.
Now, remember, at the time, Le Mans was a racetrack that was designed mostly around European cars. And for that matter, American’s had little that could even dream of competing. But with the help of British Expat Roy Lunn, Ford found a pretty promising formula.
We’ll get into the specifics of the motor below. But for now, just take our word for it that Ford produced an eager and roaring engine. And for further design help, Ford hired Carol Shelby to create a Le Mans-winning racecar. And after a number of mixed results at American tracks, Ford made some tweaks and got the Formula right. So in 1966, Ford brought it’s strongest game face possible with three cars, one of which was the GT40.
And on race day, Ford got three of its cars in the lead. And by the end of the day, two Shelbys and one Holman Moody crossed the finish line in one epic triangle formation. These also happened to be the first three cars to do just that. Meaning Ford finally did what it set out to do with the GT40—dominate Le Mans. And the story doesn’t end there! The Ford GT40 would continue to win three other races at Le Mans. And don’t forget that it also set the groundwork for one of the coolest supercars of this generation!
The Motor: Top Notch Performance for a Picture-Perfect Finish
Even by today’s standards, the 1960s motors of the GT40s remain pretty respectable. Among all its iterations, you’ll find one of four motors under the hood of one of these cool cars:
- 4.2 liter V8
- 4.7 liter V8
- 4.9 liter
- 7.0 liter V8
And we don’t need to say much to prove that this was a powerful engine. The four victories at Le Mans already make that statement loud and clear. But keep in mind that all four of these engines had no problems exceeding 215 mph. That’s more speed than some modern sports cars are capable of reaching.
Design: Unmistakably Ford
Again, not much needs to be said about the GT40’s design. After all, quite a few of these elements are still used on GTs of today. Everything from visor-type screens to rounded taillights and exhausts still remains. Plus, the 2018 Ford GT even offers its own variant of that signature dip in the hood. At the end of the day, this is the design of an epic sports car.
What’s the Price of a Ford GT40 today?
As you might have guessed, buying this epic racecar is neither easy nor cheap. But that doesn’t mean impossible.
Earlier this year, Sotheby’s auctioned an original Le Mans-slaying Ford GT40 for a whopping $12 million. But is this really shocking? After all, this is the original American automotive hero. So the price and rarity of these cars are definitely justified.
All in all, the Ford GT40 is an American legend. This dream car dominated a prestigious racetrack and automotive giant Ferrari against all odds—four times! And let’s also not forget that this is the car that set the stage for the Ford GTs of today. It’s truly a timeless design and the perfect car to complete any collection.
(Images Courtesy of Ford)