The Ford GT40 is a Legendary Supercar and One of the Most Collectible Classics Ever

Mar 25, 2017 08:30 AM EDT | BC Tabotabo

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The Ford GT40 is a Legendary Supercar and One of the Most Collectible Classics Ever

The Ford GT40 is a 2-door, 2-seat coupe that claims to be one of the world's first supercars. It is one of the most collectible and coveted classics in history.

(Photo : Top Gear/YouTube)

The Ford GT40 is a 2-door, 2-seat coupe that claims to be one of the world's first supercars. It is one of the most collectible and coveted classics in history.

According to Top Gear, the legend of the GT40 has allegedly something to do with a deal between the American automaker and Ferrari sometime in the sixties. Apparently, the American automobile manufacturer was trying to cut a deal with Enzo Ferrari to purchase his company. At the time, they really needed some major investment and Ford wanted to go into endurance racing.

By May 1963, a deal was already on the table and they were all set to sign it. However, at the last minute, Enzo pulled out, and probably never even had the intention to sell. He chose not to lose his car's autonomy and sent the Americans packing. When Don Frey, Henry Ford II's point man, returned to Detroit empty-handed. Henry Ford II told Frey to "go to Le Mans, and beat his ass" and the GT40 was Frey's answer to his wishes.

According to Revs Institute, the Ford GT40 put the American automaker on the map as a racing brand. It was the car that brought victory to Dearborn at the French Le Mans. However, it didn't happen immediately.

The GT40 was a mid-engine race car that stood 40 inches high. Ford's first prototype was fast and set top times at Le Mans. However, it failed to go the distance during its first season. In August 1963, Bruce McLaren was hired to evaluate a prototype and work swiftly progressed. The steel-bodied GT40 was heavy but durable. The first completed car used a Ford Fairlane-sourced 4.2-litre V8 engine.

At the Daytona 1965, Carroll Shelby helped them out and brought the GT40 its first victory. His Shelby American outfit and gung-ho ethos gave the GT40 the performance boost it needed. A new 7.0-liter, 427 cubic inch unit used in the Cobra was used with a new ZF transmission. However, the rest of the year and the Le Mans was still a disaster.

Finally in 1966, the good times finally came. There was a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd finish at Daytona thanks to the 7.0-liter V8 that was capable of 436 horsepower and up to 200 mph top speed. After that came a 1-2-3 win at Le Mans at long last.

During that year, Ford brought an army with them. They had 100 personnel, nine cars including a spare, seven extra engines, and around 21 tons of spare parts. Henry Ford II was there and supposedly handed Leo Beebe, head of Ford's racing programs, a business card that stated "You better win." Beebe reportedly kept the card in his wallet for the rest of his life.

The following year saw A.J Foyt and Dan Gurney win the Le Mans with the Mark IV iteration. It was a highly-evolved J-car that easily defeated the Ferrari 330 P4s and the winged Chaparral 2F. 1969 was the GT40's last triumph and it was one of the greatest race victories ever.

The Ford GT40 is one of the greatest supercars in automotive history. It had its up and downs but eventually saw a 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans in 1966 and was developed by some of the best in the business.

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