There are many things you may or may not know about the 1960s Ford GT40. Ford vs Ferrari (Le Mans ’66 in the UK) was a great story, but not the whole story. The Ford GT40, for example, was not entirely American. It was born in Great Britain and was run by a New Zealander and a Briton. The only things American about the Ford GT40 are the V-8 engines, Carroll Shelby after he was hired, and Henry Ford himself. Here are 10 such interesting facts about the Ford GT.


10/10 It all started with the Lola Mk6

A 1963 silver Lola Mk6 on display at a car show.

The Lola Mk6 was built by Lola Cars, British car manufacturer, from 1962 to 1963. It was a sleek British sports car with a 289 cubic inch Ford engine. The Mk6 was mid-engined and built for racing. The Lola competed in three major races: one at the Nürburgring, one at Silverstone and eventually at Le Mans. Henry Ford wanted so badly to beat Ferrari, but Ford didn’t know how to make a car to beat Ferrari. So Ford bought the Lola Mk6. At the time, there were only three Mk6s in existence. Ford ended up getting two of them, while Mecom Racing Team kept one. This again made Mr. Ford very upset. With the Mecom Racing Team not out, they raced again at Le Mans against Ford and everyone else. This time with a Chevrolet 5.7-liter V-8 instead of the Ford engine as before.

9/10 The beast within

A photo of the Ford GT40 mechanics

The Ford GT40 had five different engine configurations between 1964 and 1969. Everyone knows about the famous 7.0-liter engine that helped Ford win Le Mans in 1966, but there were two other engines before that. The least desirable is the 4.2-liter V-8 in the GT40 Mark 1, which was rated at 355 horsepower. Not bad for 1964. Perhaps the most common engine in the GT40 is the Ford Galaxy’s 289 V-8, which makes 400 horsepower in the race cars. The street-legal version of the car was detuned to just 335 horsepower. Of course, the only engine anyone cares about is the 427 Big-Block V-8. The 7.0-liter engine came in two versions: Nascar-spec, which offered 520 horsepower, and Le Mans-spec, tuned to 485 horses for durability. In 1969, Le Mans changed the rules to limit engine displacement to 4.9 liters. Ford had to go back to the 289 V-8, but they bumped it up to just under 5.0 liters and bumped the engine up to 470 horsepower. 1969 was the only year Ford won Le Mans with the 289 engine.

On the topic: The 2022 Ford GT40 by Ruffian Cars is a tribute to the 1966 Ford GT

8/10 Quick-change brakes

Le Mans-winning GT40 under repair

If you’ve worked on cars or taken your car in to get new brakes, you know it’s not a quick job. An experienced racing team in the 1960s could change brake rotors and pads in 20-30 minutes. When it comes time to race, every second counts and can be the difference between victory and defeat. Phil Remington (one of Carroll Shelby’s guys) has come up with an ingenious solution to quickly change rotors and pads. In this method, the brake rotors are attached to the outside of the wheel flange. This method is commonly used today on light duty pickup trucks. All the mechanic has to do is loosen the two bolts on the brake calipers and the rotor will slip out; a simple but elegant solution. The Ford racing team could supposedly do it in 60 seconds!

7/10 Forty inches tall

Ford GT40 Mark I road version

In fact, the GT40 was named after its height. The GT40 was only 40 inches tall. The car was designed to be as low as the law allows at Le Mans. This low stance and aerodynamics allowed the GT to glide through the air with little drag. When driving on the highway, the GT40 could reach 24 mpg thanks to its lightness and aerodynamics.

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6/10 The fastest car in Le Mans

A 1966 Ford GT40 Mark II parked on the race track

Le Mans has a famous circuit called the Mulsanne Straight. Here, the heavier Ford GT40 had the advantage over Ferrari and all other competitors at Le Mans. The Ford GT40 could reach speeds of up to 212 mph. This was unheard of in the 1960s. Moreover, the car accelerated quickly; 0-60 mph took just 4.7 seconds. It’s nowhere near what modern sports cars can do.

5/10 GT40 racing record

A parked replica of a black Ford GT40

The Ford GT40 had a rocky start to its fledgling racing career, which is to be expected when you’re a newcomer and have never had a racing team to compete in British motorsport. The GT40 ran its first race at the Nürburgring in May 1964. Unfortunately, the suspension failed, so the car did not finish. Three GT40s entered the 1964 Le Mans race; nil finished the 24-hour race. The Ford GT40 was brought to the US so the chicken cooper could take a look at the cars and take on the Ford racing team. The chicken farmer was Carroll Shelby. Even more American than that The GT40 won its first Daytona Nascar race. The subsequent story is well known. Ford lost the 1965 Le Mans race, but they made improvements to the car, such as adding 427 big-block, quick-change brakes. They also picked up a new British driver – Ken Miles – and finally beat Ferrari at Le Mans and won it four years in a row.

On the topic: This Ford GT40 Restomod combines classic race car looks with modern performance

4/10 A tough car to drive

A white 1965 Ford GT40 roadster drove down the street.

Driving the Mark 1 GT40 was quite a bit. The first two made failed and calculated during testing. Three GT40s entered the 1964 Le Mans race, and all three crashed or caught fire. In 1966, Ken Miles tested the new GT40 J-Car prototype, which became the Mark IV GT40. The brakes failed and he crashed. People who can afford to buy a classic Ford GT40 as hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars are still beating them today.

3/10 Lives lost behind the wheel of a GT40

A bunch of 1966 Ford GT Mark II

Accidents are often fatal, and the GT40 claimed several lives. For example, when Ken Miles tested the J-car in 1966, he was trapped inside the car and burned to death. That same year in 1966, a man named Bob McLean was racing a GT40 at Sebring when the right front suspension broke and the car crashed into the wall.

On the topic: 1963 Lola GT

2/10 Racing legend Bruce McLaren

Shot of the Daytona 1966 Ford GT Mk II on the race track

The first to win Le Mans in a Ford GT40 was Bruce McLaren. He only won technically, but still, a win is a win, right? Bruce McLaren was a racing driver from New Zealand. Bruce won his first Formula One race in 1959. He won Formula 1 four times in his lifetime. No wonder Ford wanted him on their racing team, perhaps even more than the famous Ken Miles.

1/10 Total GT40

A three-quarter front view of the street version of the Ford GT Mark III

The classic Ford GT40 is one of the rarest and most expensive cars available at auction today. A total of 124 Ford GT40s were made. This includes prototypes (which mostly crashed). 31 road cars were produced from the original Mark 1 GT40s. Only seven Mark IIIs were made into road cars. 10 Mark IVs (the car that killed Ken Miles) were produced. Today there is many Ford GT40 replicas.


Three-quarter rear view of a gray 2006 Ford GT

The Ford GT40 was born out of resentment, but it gave us one of the greatest automotive stories of all time. It rocked British racing forever and put Ford on the map as a manufacturer of performance cars. Of course, the whole idea of ​​Ford racing at Le Mans was to appeal to a younger audience and perhaps even the world outside of the US. A true legend that will never be repeated.