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Well, race fans, it’s been fifty

years, but Ford is finally planning a

new assault on LeMans:

In June of 2015, much to the de-

light of Ford performance enthusiasts

around the world, Ford announced

that they would be returning to the

track with an all new Ford GT. They

might not repeat the incredible feat of

the magical 1-2-3 finish of 1966, or the

amazing repeat wins in 1967, 1968,

and 1969, but they would make the

2016 running of the 24 Heures du

Mans a most memorable event.

Back in the sixties “Hank the

Deuce” (more formally known as

Henry Ford II, Ford’s CEO, the oldest

son of Edsel Ford and oldest grandson

of Henry Ford), was interested in pur-

chasing Ferrari. After being rebuffed

by Enzo Ferrari, he directed Ford to

work with Carroll Shelby and Lola’s

Eric Broadley to create a race car that

was capable of competing with the

world’s finest endurance racers. If he

could not buy Ferrari he was deter-

mined to beat them on the race track.

Ford’s endurance racer, the Ford

GT40, proved itself on tracks around

the world and, in June 1966, three of

these beauties crossed the finish line

at LeMans providing a most glorious

moment for Ford. A small number of

these cars were made available in

modified form as “street” cars. They

were really just barely “streetable” –

the front fenders were raised to meet

headlight height requirements, the

rear end extended to allow minimal

space for luggage, and 289 Hi-Po en-

gines were specified instead of

NASCAR-style 427 race engines. They

were noisy and hot, cramped for space

with no air-conditioning or real win-

dows but, for hard-core enthusiasts,

they were the answer to a dream. The

original GT40 evolved into four spe-

cific GT40 models: Mk I, Mk II, Mk III

and Mk IV.


Fall 2015 321

– Jeff Burgy

The GT40s which won LeMans in 1966 were the same basic shape as the cars which

preceeded them but they were powered by 427 NASCAR engines and were necessarily

heavier, with larger brakes and roll cages. These cars, by virtue of their LeMans public-

ity, are probably the most recognizable. Only eleven Mk IIs were built.

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Although a number of original Mk Is were sold as “road cars” they had minimal pas-

senger comforts. A separate “street” model, the Mk III, was offered to rectify this but at

$18,000 (when the sticker-price of a loaded Corvette was $6,000) it was a tough sell.

Only 7 were produced.