The Legend of GT

March 4, 2015

Have you fallen in love with the new Ford GT yet?

We are showing our new supercar for the first time in Europe at the Geneva Motor Show, and thought you should get better acquainted. Buckle up though; the GT comes with quite a story.

Back in the 1960s Ford was looking to buy Ferrari – yes, that Ferrari.

It didn’t work out, however. Discussions with the Italian carmaker’s boss, Enzo Ferrari, broke down over control of the brand’s motor sports division.

Ford chairman Henry Ford II, grandson of the company-founding namesake, was determined to build his own race car.

His goal? To win the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans car race, which Ferrari dominated during the early 1960s.

Based on the Lola GT, one of the most advanced racing cars of the time, the prototype Ford-built GT was revealed first in England in 1963, and the next year, to acclaim at the New York Auto Show.

Track performance was promising. The newly named GT40 may have been forced to retire after competing for the first time at the Nürburgring 1000 km race in 1964, but it had been among the leaders.

Things only got better with the advent in 1965 of the GT40 Mk II, introduced by legendary tuner Carroll Shelby. Fitted with a 7-litre V8 from the Ford Galaxie road car – an engine also used in American saloon car racing – the new car was also longer, and had more aerodynamic features.

Foreshadowing a key moment in motorsport history, at the 1966 Daytona Continental 2000 km three GT40s crossed the finish line in first, second, and third places. An endurance race win in Sebring followed – and then the big one.

A Ford GT40 completed 360 laps at Le Mans to claim that much-desired victory, and two more Ford GT40s were runners-up. For four years in a row Ford GT40s would win at Le Mans.

Produced in 1966, The Ford GT40 Mk III, was the definitive road-going GT40. Powered by a 310 PS 4.7-litre V8, this version could accelerate from 0-62 mph in just 5.3 seconds and had a top speed of 154 mph. Only seven were made – models today command astronomical prices.

The GT40 Mk IV that followed in 1967 had perhaps the most dramatic styling of all. It also delivered the first all-American car and team to win at Le Mans. Arguably the most famous GT40 ever, the red No. 1 car, is on display at The Henry Ford museum in Michigan.

21st century GT

We launched the Ford GT in 2006 – the 100th Anniversary of Ford Motor Company and the 40th Anniversary of that Le Mans win. The new car housed a 558 PS mid-mounted 5.4-litre supercharged V8 under its aluminium body. It reached 62 mph in 3.5 seconds, and a top speed of 205 mph.

And that brings us back to where we started – with a new Ford GT, stealing the show in Switzerland.

Expectations are incredibly high.

But with a lightweight carbon fibre construction and a 600-plus horsepower punch from its 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine – the new Ford GT is certainly shaping up to meet them.

Stay tuned for more information on the new Ford GT.

Topics: ford