The Ford GT40 Mk1 is perhaps the most iconic American race car ever made, and is the grandfather of today’s Ford GT supercar. YouTube creator 19Bozzy92 has done a fantastic job of compiling clips of GT40 Mk1’s ripping around tracks like Frances Circuit Paul Ricard, and Italy’s Monza and Imola race tracks. These endurance racing cars are a true symbol of American grit and ingenuity, at a time in history when we needed it dearly. Like the creation of another iconic automotive icon (talking about the origins of the Lamborghini brand here) we can thank a stronzino (a**hole in Italian) named Enzo Ferrari for pissing off Henry Ford II and spurring him to build his own American grand tourer. Henry Ford II’s goal? To best Ferrari in the most prestigious of endurance races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and by any means possible.
The Ford GT40 Story In Short
Americans have a historical tendency to thrive and do our best when we’re agitated and disgruntled. This is especially the case when the year is 1963, your name is Henry Ford, and you’ve spent millions of dollars auditing Ferrari in order to purchase the brand (an idea that was Enzo Ferrari’s), only to have Ferrari pull out of the deal at the last second.
The GT40 was created in collaboration with British race car engineering company Lola Cars International. Of course, the engine of choice for the Mk1 was a Ford 4.7 racing V8 cranking out roughly 350 horsepower and that orgasmic sound audible in the video. By the end of 1963, Ford had created the Ford Advanced Vehicles division, which directly oversaw the GT40 project.
Showing Up Enzo Ferrari
The maiden races for the GT40 Mk1 didn’t go very well. The suspension failed in its first race at the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife 1000. Not too long after, all three of the Mk1 GT40 entries at the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans earned DNF (Did Not Finish) titles. The early failures led Ford to transfer ownership of the racing program over to the legend Carroll Shelby. The first race for the GT40 under Shelby’s leadership came at the 1965 Daytona 2000, with driver Ken Miles at the wheel. By the end of the year, the Mk1 was joined by two other GT40 variants, the X-1 and the MkII. In 1966, the MkII GT40’s took all three pole positions at the 24 Hours of Daytona and the Daytona 2000.
Finally that year at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, Henry Ford got what he wanted. The GT40 took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, showing up Ferrari’s 330 P3 entries, both of which didn’t even finish. While the ending of the race was controversial for Ford’s GT40 drivers, (watch Ford v Ferrari for the full story) Ford proved themselves to be a force in GT racing. That’s why watching the Ford GT40 Mk1 shred Italian tracks like the Monza Circuit should bring a prideful grin to your face.