Why Ford’s GT40 Could Be the Blue Oval’s Best Car Ever?

Ford GT40 Iconic Featured Image

Ford is one of the largest car companies in the world. Rightly so. Their story started all those years ago with the Ford Model T and since then they have produced some remarkable cars for sale all over the world. Cars like the Escort, Cortina and the Focus are perhaps better known in Europe. In America, of course, Ford is famous for the F-150 pickup, arguably the best pickup currently available. But they also know a thing or two about performance cars.

Specifically, we are talking about the Ford GT. And in many ways this car owes its existence to the original Ford GT40 which was originally designed and built to take on Ferrari at Le Mans in the 1960s. There is a very strong argument to say that the GT40 is the best car Ford has ever made, almost 60 years since we first saw the remarkable Le Mans racer. The GT40 would win Le Mans every year from 1966 to 1969, becoming one of the most iconic cars ever to emerge from the Blue Oval factory.

The history of the Ford GT40

The Ford GT40 was born from a simple premise. And that was that Henry Ford II wanted to create a car that could take the power of Ferrari and win the legendary event. It was that simple. This also came after a reported deal between Ford and Enzo Ferrari in the latest sale to Ford fell through. This was reportedly because Enzo Ferrari was extremely angry that Ferrari would not be able to enter the Indy 500 if Ford bought out the company. This led to a hateful end to the deal and Henry Ford II decided to build a car that could beat Ferrari at their own game.

This initially led to a proposal from Lola, who made the Lola Mk6. The car showed well during the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1963, but failed to finish the race. However, the groundwork for the GT40 was laid and Eric Broadly agreed to help Ford, but without the direct involvement of Lola Cars. The first two GT40s were actually based on a pair of Lola Mk 6 chassis Broadly sold to the Ford company. And soon, the GT40 itself would come out in full force.

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The Ford GT40 takes the podium

The first race for the GT40 would be the 1964 Nürburgring 1,000 Km. Unfortunately the car stalled due to a suspension failure, but in 1964 the three GT40s also failed to complete the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But one car led the race for a long period of time, demonstrating its potential. And the Ford GT40 would go racing in 1965 under Shelby’s umbrella, taking the victory at the 1965 Daytona 2000 Km. Despite this, the car did not plunge into glory in 1965. But in 1966 it did.

The Ford GT40 would come to dominate sports car racing in 1966. It won again at Daytona in February, the first year the race was actually run in the 24-hour format. The car would then finish 1-2-3 in the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring. And as we all know, the GT40 would go on to achieve a famous 1-2-3 result at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, beating Ferrari and showing Enzo Ferrari what the Ford company was capable of. The finish of that race was obviously very controversial, but that’s a whole different story.

The GT40 is a success

Remarkably, the GT40 couldn’t stop winning Le Mans. For the next three years, the GT40 would take the win at Le Mans. Overall, the GT40 would take four overall wins in the great race. Two owned by Shelby-American and the other two owned by John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd. The GT40 would also win four FIA international titles, at the time unofficially known as the World Sportscar Championship. It was clear to everyone that Ford had produced one of the greatest sports cars of all time.

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The Legacy of the GT40

The legacy of the GT40 couldn’t be clearer. It has, of course, been revered for decades by Ford and car enthusiasts as a whole. It eventually saw some sort of revival in the mid-2000s with the new Ford GT, and later with the 2016 Ford GT, which will soon be out of production. GT40s get impressive prices at auction when they show up, and they are arguably the most recognizable car in Ford company history, aside from perhaps the Model T. The GT40 will forever remain a Ford icon.

Sources: YouTube, 427 Garage, Classic Trader, Ford