The Ford GT40

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In the spring of 1963, Henry Ford II received word that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling the family business to Ford Motor Company. Ford was excited to have an opportunity to buy the legendary brand and reportedly spent several million dollars in an audit of Ferrari assets and on lawyers who were working on the negotiations. At the eleventh hour, as the story goes, Ferrari pulled out of the deal. It is said it was over the motorsports wing of Ferrari, which Ferrari wanted to retain operational control of, Ford was busy racing at Indy and if the deal went through Ferrari cars would not be allowed to race at the Indianapolis 500. Enzo shut the deal down costing Ford millions. 



Out of that mutual spirit of animosity Henry Ford II ordered his racing division to build a car that could beat Ferrari.  Lead by Harley Copp, the team of Broadley, Lunn and Wyer began working on a new car at the Lola Factory in Bromley. By the end of 1963 Ford had established Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd, a new subsidiary under the direction of Wyer. 


During this same time another American Carroll Shelby was working on refining his year old Shelby Cobra in his own bid to take down Ferrari in the FIA World Championship. His Cobra Daytona Coupe would do so in 1965. The GT40 was first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km race where it retired with suspension failure after holding second place early in the event. 


Three weeks later at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, all three entries retired with mechanical issues. Ford was seeing the success Carroll Shelby was having with his Cobras and knew he had his eyes already on a Le Mans bid so after a season plagued with issues under John Wyer, Shelby took over after the 1964 Nassau race. The cars were shipped directly from the Bahamas to Shelby in Los Angeles. 


Shelby was quick to add a victory to the GT40's resume on their first race out with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby taking victory at the Daytona 2000 in 1965. The rest of 1965 was not as successful, but the lessons learned in 64-65 allowed the MK-II version of the GT40 to dominate the 1966 24 hours of Le Mans with a 1-2-3- victory and elevated it to the status of legend. 


This MKI Street Version of the Ford GT40, Chassis P/1058 was photographed by Mike Satterfield

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