All the Cars from the Ford v Ferrari Movie
Tons of legendary cars gleamed on the screen in Hollywood’s latest racing movie but it wasn’t all about Fords and Ferrarisby Michael Fira, on LISTEN 11:24
Ford v. Ferrari, Hollywood’s latest stab at tackling a racing film, has fans still drooling over its enthralling story and, more importantly, the cohorts of legendary cars that appear on the big screen. Casual movie-goers relish the opportunity of seeing Matt Damon and Christian Bale together for the first time but, for us, it’s all about the Fords, the Ferraris, and everything in between when it comes to this blockbuster.
In 2020, we’ll celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours, a race expertly - if lacking in a proper plot - showcased in Le Mans, the 1971 movie that Steve McQueen put everything on the line for. Over four decades later, we’ve got another movie centered around those old country roads in France. This time, the talk of the town is Ford’s legendary grudge match against the Prancing Horse from Maranello. The trip down memory lane that director James Mangold prepared for us is littered with some of history’s most revered automobiles so it’s only fitting that we take a moment to talk about them - one by one.
Not everything you see is real
Before we kick things off and tell you a little bit about the cars you’ll see (or have seen) on the big screen in Ford v. Ferrari, allow us to act all ’Captain Obvious’ for a moment and inform you that most of the cars in the film aren’t the real deal. The Cobras and GT40s used in the action shots and most of the still shots as well are replicas built by either Superformance or Shelby Legendary Cars. The Ferraris, be it 250 GTOs seen inside Enzo’s factory in Italy or the prototypes raced at Le Mans, were commissioned to Race Car Replicas of Fraser, Michigan.
Most of these fiberglass replicas can be driven around and about although some were hastily fitted with mock-up engines as they were only meant to appear in the back of some shots. Some of the cars used during filming now reside in a shop in Southern California, the majority awaiting new caretakers as they’re being sold off one by one. We discussed already the story of Miles’ No. 1 Ford GT40 Mk. II so head over there if you wanna get chock-full of Mk. II history. We talked about the GT40’s birth and its coming of age in this article where you’ll find enough pedantry to fill a few cabinets. In short, some of the cars in this movie are fake, as you’d expect, and some others are downright wrong in their appearance but, having said that, the makers of the movie made sure to get most of the big things right - and many of the little things too!
In our rundown of the cars that appeared in 'Ford v. Ferrari', we'll give you the real-life specs, not the ones of the cars as seen in the movie.
Point in case, Miles’ ’star car,’ the baby blue Mk. II: the real car, chassis #P/1015 came with a 427 cubic inch (7.0-liter) V-8 while the replica sports an 8.4-liter unit with more horsepower and more torque. As a final note, all the cars listed here did make an appearance, be it briefly, in the movie, we won’t talk about cars that did race at Le Mans (or at Sebring or Daytona, for that matter) in period but failed to make an appearance on-screen.
It’s fast, it’s green, it’s loud, and it’s British. It might as well be what Supermarine would’ve built had those lads not been busy building the plane that won the Battle of Britain. Luckily, Aston Martin rose to the occasion and built the DBR1 instead and what a marvelous job they did. The car appears at the beginning of the film where we see glimpses of the 1959 edition of the race that Carroll Shelby actually won alongside team-mate Roy Salvadori. The duo overcame the wet weather - but not a fire in the pit lane as depicted in the movie - to win ahead of the sister car driven by Maurice Trintignant and Paul Frere. The car sports its wheel covers in the film as it did that year at Le Mans but it was Ferrari’s crumbling gearboxes that helped propel David Brown’s team to victory lane for the first and, thus far, only time.
Aston Martin introduced the DBR1 in 1956 when, as per the FIA’s rulebook, you could have engines as big as 5.0-liters in your car. The Britons, however, first outfitted the DBR1 with a 2.5-liter mill and then with the RB6.300 250-horsepower straight-six. While outright power wasn’t one of the DBR1’s strengths, the car outmaneuvered the lanky Maseratis and D-Types once properly developed due to its lower weight. Stirling Moss said, way back in 1989, that, despite there being many things wrong with the DBR1, it still ranks as one of the "best-balanced and nicest-handling cars" he’d ever driven in his storied career. Moss also points out Aston’s win at Le Mans was impressive particularly because the car wasn’t, as Moss puts it, "a Le Mans car."
While Moss praised the DBR1’s balance, owing to the perimeter-type, small-tube, spaceframe chassis with torsion bars and trailing links in the front and a Watt’s linkage in the rear, Australian Frank Gardner was quick to dismiss Ted Cutting’s design when he had the chance. Speaking of the car he tinkered on as a 28-year-old mechanic at Aston Martin’s HQ in Feltham, Gardner said that "the ergonomics of the car were all over the place. And we could never get the gearbox to work; it was okay for a tractor, but not a race car." The man who drove Porsche’s fearsome 917 in its first race 50 years ago is referring to the CG537, a semi-dry-sump five-speed transaxle, a true Achille’s Heel if there ever was one in the case of the DBR1. "We used a Maserati gearbox when Roy Salvadori and Carroll Shelby won Le Mans," Gardner later confessed.
The Aston Martin DBR1/300 is one of the most famous sports cars of the '50s and for good reason.
Covered in those iconic British Racing Green colors, the DBR1 looks absolutely fabulous, those curving fenders styled by Cutting ranking up there with anything Ferrari’s coachbuilders could come up with at the time. Aston Martin broke through too late with a big engine (the DBR2 sported a 3.7-liter engine but it wasn’t ready until the tail end of ’57) and, as such, the DBR1 made a name for itself thanks to the well-sorted underpinnings and some determined wheelmen.
How determined? Here’s just a pair of examples that are telling of the way Aston Martin won the 1959 World Manufacturer’s Title. First, Le Mans. Shelby and Salvadori scored the win but it almost didn’t happen as Carroll fell ill with dysentery and ate nothing but dysentery pills the whole race. That same year, Aston won the Tourist Trophy and the 1,000-kilometer race at the ’Ring. The latter was all Moss, from his brilliance behind the wheel to his determination off the track as Stirling paid all of the expenses out of his own pocket to have the car out there on the Green Hell.
|Replica||About $100,000 for a good one, as little as $35,000 for a not-so-good one|
|Real deal||Anywhere between $20 million and $25 million|
|Engine||3.0-liter, DOHC straight-six|
|Brakes||Girling discs all around|
|Gearbox||CG537 five-speed manual transaxle|
|Suspension||trailing links and torsion bars in the front, Watt’s linkage in the rear|
|Top speed||155 mph|
Read our full review on the 1959 Aston Martin DBR1/300
A number of Porsches play second fiddle later on in the story of ’Ford v. Ferrari’ but, early on, cinema-goers might be surprised to see Carroll Shelby dash down the streets of L.A. behind the wheel of what seems to be a Porsche 356A Carrera Speedster with a roll-bar among other modifications.
Shelby, who hung up his helmet at the end of 1960, wasn't a Porsche man and, apparently, the car's appearance in the motion picture is merely a case of chance acting up.
"We were originally considering an Aston Martin DB4 for Matt [Damon] for the opening scenes - and we could procure one - but the owner was like, "uh, you can take it up to 30 or 45 mph," Rob Johnson, the film’s Vehicle Director told Bloomberg. "We had to think about what was available, and we knew we had three Porsches we raced in Willow Springs. They were on set, and they were reliable," and the rest is history, as they say.
Only about 4,000 Porsche 356s were ever built and, barring from the very early ones that are bona fide relics on wheels, the 356s that came with the DOHC, four-cam ’Carrera’ engine are the most sought-after. That’s because the four-cam was designed by Ernst Fuhrmann for use in motor racing and it was, in its day, twice as powerful as its pushrod brethren.
108 ponies may seem like nothing today but the 1.5-liter mill only had to push 1,852 pounds around.
Disc brakes in the front, and Porsche’s faultless transaxle complete the mix.
With rather minute details (for the average passersby) setting apart the variety of Porsche 356s out there, it’s not unlikely that someone could try and ’forge’ one example’s identity. So, if, by any miracle, you’re in the market for a 356A Carrera GT Speedster, look for rolled edges on the front and rear, the same as around the wheel openings to determine whether the car is genuine or not. Oh, and rust can be a problem on the 356 too. These cars are sound mechanically, albeit lacking in creature comforts.
The Porsche 356, often referred to as ’The Simple Porsche’, is following the classic Porsche trend of becoming unobtainable unless you’re a member of the richest 1%. There are still some versions out there that aren’t particularly expensive, like a ’60s 356C, the one with all the improvements, that you can bag for about $75,000. The 356A Carrera GT Speedster, though, is a car that only a guy like Matt Damon could afford.
|Price||$1.4 million and going up|
|Engine||1.5-liter, DOHC, four-cam flat-four|
|Output||108 horsepower, 91 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Drums all around, but some Carrera GTs feature discs in the front|
|Suspension||Torsion bars with leaf springs with shock absorbers, anti-roll bar|
|Top speed||124 mph|
Read our full review on the 1957 Porsche 356A Carrera Speedster
1961 MG MGA
The MGA ushered in a new era for MG in terms of styling, its previous sporty models being based on the MG T-Type unveiled in the '30s.
Launched at the Frankfurt Auto Show in 1955, the MGA still shared many parts with the outgoing TF Midget, such as the 1.5-liter BMC B-Series engine and the four-speed transmission. We see a number of MGAs early in the film at Ken Miles’ shop, the Birmingham native wrenching on one such British sports car. Miles is known for his mechanical know-how and worked as a repairman prior to getting his big break with Shelby. What is more, in his early days racing Stateside, he raised many eyebrows in Southern California SCCA races with his MG Special that was virtually unbeatable in the F-Modified category despite there being no improvements in the engine department.
With over 100,000 MGAs built until 1962 and the bulk of them hitting export markets, finding an MGA in good condition isn't a particularly hard task.
Moreover, there’s a myriad of specialist companies as well as repair shops that cater to British sports cars meaning that keeping an MGA on the road is no mean feat and it doesn’t break the bank either. The cars are simple in construction with a rather archaic body-on-frame build and drum brakes all around (on the 1.5-liter and 1.6-liter versions) and you can choose between coupe-bodied models and roadsters. The open-top ones are more expensive but the rarest of the lot is the twin-cam MGA with an aluminum cylinder head and Dunlop disc brakes. In this guise, the MGA was as powerful as the Porsche 356A Carrera GT Speedster.
While the aforementioned MGA Twin-Cam is the most expensive and rarest version, the reason behind its scarcity may scare you off if you’re looking at an MGA as a future weekend car. The twin-cam engine is notorious for detonation problems and a propensity to burn oil in lofty quantities. Repairing a twin-cam mill is expensive as is finding a replacement unit. Gremlins can also hit the gearbox but the weaknesses of the transmission are well-known and fixable and you should also check any example for signs of corrosion, be it electrolytic or not.
The MGA doesn’t really play a part in the movie, although we do get to see an early glimpse of Ken Miles’ explosive nature when irked by an unhappy customer who owned an MG. The car was very active in club-level competition, as well as in major endurance races in the ’60s around the time the Cobra emerged on the scene but the cars didn’t race head-to-head as they were in different classes due to their respective engine capacities. In 2019, the MGA can be your ticket to British sports car ownership as you can find early Coupes for as little as $15,000.
|MGA 1600 Mk. I Coupe||$15,000-$18,000 (the cheapest version)|
|MGA Twin-Cam Roadster||$30,000-$42,000 (the priciest)|
|Replica||About $100,000 for a good one, as little as $35,000 for a not-so-good one|
|Real deal||Anywhere between $20 million and $25 million|
1963 AC Shelby Cobra
The result of an unlikely - but not unheard of - marriage between the British AC Ace and Ford’s array of V-8 engines, the Cobra remains one of the most recognizable cars ever built and, maybe, the quintessential American sports car. Carroll Shelby originally knocked at the doors of GM when he set about building a car that would bear his own name but, in the end, he struck a deal with Ford as the company was on the verge of its Total Performance program and Shelby was seen as the go-to guy on the sports car side of things.
Matt Damon drives a blue Cobra throughout the movie as would Carroll Shelby back in those days. The model he’s driving looks like an early one which suggests it’s a nod to #CSX2000, the first Cobra ever built that sold for $13.75 million back in 2016. The car was painted and re-painted a number of times back in the day as Shelby tried to pass it as a different car every time he’d dispatch it to a journalist for a piece or to an auto show to be showcased.
The Shelby American boys took the ancient underpinnings of the AC Ace, a car that’d been around since the ’50s but was plagued by an underwhelming Bristol engine, and threw a Ford 260 cubic inch (4.26-liter) small-block V-8 in there.
Good for about 260 horsepower, the Fairlane V-8 helped the Cobra go from naught to 60 mph in under six seconds on road rubber.
With the 289 cubic inch (4.7-liter) V-8 in place, power went up to about 271 horsepower and top speed surpassed 150 mph. As you can see in the film, the car was in a class of its own in SCCA club racing due to its low weight (about 500 pounds down on a Corvette C2) and amazing acceleration.
At first, Shelby only planned to build 100 Cobras to homologate them for international competition but, until production was ceased in 1967, almost 1,000 Cobras were built by Shelby American.
Thing is, creature comforts were never of much concern for Shelby’s guys working in the Venice Beach, California, shop and, as such, the Cobra is well-known for its cramped, under-equipped cabin. It’s also known for how snappy it can be and for how easy it spins its rear wheels, even with race tires on. While a lot of work went into the development of the chassis and suspension (the last Cobras came with coil spring suspension), the Cobra is not a tame, friendly car, so approach one with caution and respect.
For most American petrolheads, the Cobra is sacred. That a car built by a group of ex-hotrodders in Southern California was able to rise to the occasion in just 24 months and beat Ferrari convincingly on some of the most famous road courses of the world, is nothing short of extraordinary. On top of that, the Cobra was one of the fastest and rawest street-legal sports cars ever made and, even now, 57 years after its introduction, it is being made in large numbers in the form of replicas. If, indeed, replicating something is a sign of respect for the original work, then respect for the Cobra is, was, and will always be overflowing.
|Price||Anywhere between $700,000 for an early 260 cubic inch Cobra and $2-5 million for a race-prepped period-built Cobra 289|
|Engine||4.7-liter, pushrod V-8|
|Output||271 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Drums all around|
|Suspension||Independent in the front, transverse leaf springs in the rear|
|Top speed||130 mph (AC Cobra 260), +150 mph (AC Cobra 289)|
1963 Ford Falcon
The Ford Falcon was Robert S. McNamara’s brainchild, a compact sedan that outsold Chevrolet’s similar offering but, at the same time, the car that can be considered the example of everything wrong with FoMoCo at the time.
Powered by either the 2.4-liter or the 2.8-liter inline-six, both unable to deliver more than 100 horsepower, the Falcon was a good family car but was as exciting as watching paint dry on a wall.
McNamara’s disciple Lee Iaccoca started with the Falcon when he began working on the Mustang, knowing that costs had to be kept down if a sports car would ever be greenlit by The Deuce. Almost two dozen Falcons can be seen in the movie mid-assembly. All the cars are genuine 1962-1963 Falcons and are for sale, as per Hagerty.com.
The original 1959-1963 Ford Falcon was, at first, a hit with American families looking for a durable, cheap, and easy to fix commuter.
Over half a million units were sold in its first year and a million cars were dispatched by the second year while Chevy was struggling to move the problematic Corvair off showroom floors. McNamara tasked Harley Copp with the design and he favored a unibody architecture - this was about the only innovative aspect of the Falcon. Still, a small sedan that could carry six adults was precisely what America needed at the time and the no-fuss Falcon delivered on its promise, doubling down with impressive fuel economy (30 mpg advertised). But, it wasn’t flawless.
You see, Ford put the Falcon through its paces during the pre-production phase with prototypes covering some three million miles in testing.
Problems were ironed out and Ford considered the Falcon to be ready to tackle any road - including those overseas. But Dearborn was wrong and the Falcon’s introduction in Australia brought to light a variety of shortcomings in the sedan’s design rustproofing was underwhelming, suspension ball joints were prone to collapsing and gearboxes and clutches were seizing on Australia’s rural backroads. It wasn’t long before Ford fixed most of these issues but the Falcon surely started on the wrong foot Down Under.
The Falcon is a no-nonsense automobile meaning it was built to serve its purpose of getting you from point A to point B in reasonable comfort and that’s about it. On the flipside, the lack of amenities or avant-garde technical solutions make the Falcon an easy car to keep on the road - as long as you’ve got yourself a rust-free example. While many were made back in the day, not that many have survived since they were seen as disposable cars. Luckily, not even the sporty (read Falcon Sprint) models are as desirable as the Mustang so you shouldn’t break the bank during your Falcon owner experience.
|Price||$3,000-35,000 depending on condition/version/MY|
|Engine||2.6-liter, OHV inline-six|
|Output||101 horsepower and 138 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Drums all around|
|Gearbox||three-speed manual or automatic|
|Suspension||Transversal leaf springs, live rear axle|
|Top speed||85 mph|
1964 Ford Mustang
In its 152 minutes, 'Ford v. Ferrari' amasses an astounding amount of legendary cars and the Ford Mustang is another good example.
Launched in March of 1964 after being unveiled at that year’s New York Auto Show next to a mule of the Ford GT40, the Mustang was an instant hit and it became a star along with Lee Iacocca who, as Ford Division General Manager, was the one that breathed life into the project. Over half a million ’Stangs were built in its first year alone and, almost single-handedly, it spawned the entire muscle car craze as just about every other American automaker scrambled to come up with a Mustang rival. Over the years, the Mustang became obese and lumpy but what we see in the movie is a very early 1964 model during a launch event.
Iacocca outlined five targets for the Mustang’s design team (led by Don Frey and Hal Spurley) to tackle: the new car, which would later create the ’pony car’ niche, had to be compact in size (total length of no more than 180 inches), had to seat four adults, had to feature bucket seats in the front, it also could not weigh more than 2,500 pounds, nor could it cost more than $2,500 ($21,292 today), and it had to feature a floor-mounted shifter and be flexible enough to allow for a multitude of trim levels, performance options, and other optional extras. Come what may, the Mustang was all of that and more and we think there’s no better way of telling how big the ’Mustang’ nameplate is than by looking at what Ford’s doing right now: there’s only one non-SUV/crossover that Ford currently sales Stateside and it’s the Mustang. Moreover, the name’s been slapped to an electric crossover now and this may be just the beginning.
There aren’t many things wrong with early Mustangs, apart from things you’d expect to face when owning an old car, such as the controls not being as responsive as they are on a modern car. Having said that, you must always be wary of the rust problem that’s prevalent especially if the car spent its life in a more humid area. Also, over the years, many have discussed the issue of the fuel tank’s location that caused a number of Mustangs from that era to burn to the ground after being rear-ended at speed.
With well over a million classic Mustangs out on the roads of America, it’s no wonder many people buy a Mustang as their first classic car. Not only does the original pony car look cool even today, turning heads just like it did back in 1964, but it’s also easy to work on and improve due to the infinite number of specialized shops and sites that only sell Mustang parts and upgrade kits.
|Price||Anywhere between $5,000 and $60,000|
|Engine||4.7-liter Windsor V-8|
|Output||210 horsepower, 300 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Drums all around|
|Top speed||110 mph|
Ferrari built a grand total of 17 500 TRCs for the 1957 racing season to sell to its privateers.
The 500 TRC was powered by a 2.0-liter four-pot at a time when the works cars sported 4.0-liter V-12s.
Unhappy with the status quo, California Ferrari importer Johnny von Neumann pulled some strings to have a pair of 500 TRCs equipped with the 2.5-liter ’625’ engine, a 220 horsepower mill that’d been used on the works 625 LMs seen at Le Mans in 1956. Bemused by the performance of the ’625’ engine, von Neumann equipped one of his two 625s with the 4.3-liter four-pot off an 860 Monza and that’s how the silver No. 11 car raced throughout 1957.
Then, in 1958, the 860 Monza engine was taken out and in came the 3.0-liter V-12 that powered the brand-new 250 TR, the latest weapon of the Scuderia. With 300 horsepower on tap, von Neumann won time and again in chassis #0672MDTR, the car’s claim to fame being that it’s the winningest Ferrari ever with some 20 first-place finishes out of 50 starts. You’ll see the actual car - now owned by Bruce Meyer - tucked away inside the Ferrari factory in the movie.
With a more powerful engine than most other Ferrari sports cars racing on the West Coast, Johnny von Neumann's silver 625/250 TR was a force to be reckoned with.
Powered by a factory-sourced 3.0-liter V-12, it won at Santa Barbara, Pomona, Road America, and at Nassau in the Bahamas. The presence of the car in the movie may be an easter egg of sorts as Ken Miles himself actually drove that exact car in 1962 for Otto Zipper who’d purchased it from von Neumann at the end of 1961. Miles won the SCCA race at Santa Barbara in May of 1962 with this 625/250 TRC. Coincidentally, talks of a merger between Ford and Ferrari were curtailed that same month by Enzo Ferrari’s unwillingness to hand over the control of his racing department’s budget.
There’s really nothing wrong with this gorgeous sports car. The body, penned by Pinin Farina and built by hand at Scaglietti’s workshop, is stunning from every angle. The car, once relieved of the fragile four-pot (prone to failure if over-revved), was as fast as it was beautiful and, in hindsight, only the ergonomics could’ve been improved but, at the end of the day, we’re talking about a car manufactured 62 years ago.
The Ferrari 625 TRC is one of Ferrari’s unsung heroes. While everybody’s talking about the pontoon-fendered 250 TR of 1957-1958, a host of other models built throughout the ’50s have been swept under the rug by the passage of time. Hardly anybody talks about the 860 Monza or the 500 Mondial or the 121 LM and it’s a pity. Ferrari experimented a lot in those days, fitting a variety of engines in a variety of models to different degrees of success but it was all this development that led to its impressive string of Le Mans victories in the early ’60s.
|Engine||3.0-liter Colombo V-12|
|Brakes||Drums all around|
|Suspension||Independent in the front with double wishbones, coil springs, and shock absorbers, and a live rear axle with coils and shock absorbers|
|Top speed||+165 mph|
Read our full review on the 1957 Ferrari 625/250 TRC
Another famous and real car that appears inside the Ferrari factory in the movie is the No. 14 Ferrari 250 GT SWB in its silver livery just like it was raced by Pierre Noblet and Jean Guichet at Le Mans in 1961. This car, also part of Meyer’s collection and on display at the Petersen museum, is chassis #2689GT and it finished third overall and first in the GT 3.0-liter class in ’61.
The 250 GT SWB was based on a shorter version of the ladder frame that underpinned the 250 GT 2+2.
Shorter by a significant 7.87 inches, the SWB’s chassis was also beefed up as Ferrari intended for its new Berlinetta to go racing. In all, only 165 examples were made and less than half that featured the ’Competizione’ alloy body. The car was, for a short while, the king of the 3.0-liter class only to be made irrelevant by its parent company who, in 1962, introduced the 250 GTO.
Once the GTO was out, a competitor could only dream of finishing at the sharp end of the GT 3.0-liter class in a world-class event if behind the wheel of the 250 GT SWB. The 250 GTO was sleeker, more powerful, and, thus, faster than the 250 GT SWB and it also handled better, making the ’Passo Corto’ obsolete essentially overnight.
When asked to put together a top five of the prettiest cars ever to come out of Maranello, many Tifosi don’t fail to mention the 250 GT SWB and it’s easy to see why. It was, at the time of its release in 1959, the first Ferrari grand tourer to come with disc brakes at all four corners and the noise of the 3.0-liter Colombo V-12 is at least as beautiful as the Scaglietti body.
|Engine:||3.0-liter SOHC Colombo V-12|
|Output||280 horsepower and 191 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Discs all around|
|Suspension||Independent in the front with parallel A-arms and coil springs with tubular shock absorbers and a live rear axle with leaf springs|
|Top speed||165 mph|
Read our full review on the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB
1961 Ferrari 156
The name ’Ferrari 156’ sounds pretty boring, doesn’t it? That’s why when the press laid eyes on The Drake’s contender for the 1961 Formula 1 season, it gained a much more sonorous nickname: sharknose, due to its twin-nostril inlet. Designed by Carlo Chiti and Vittorio Jano, the 156 was heavier than its British rivals and less grippy but what it lacked in maneuverability it more than made up in sheer power. Enzo Ferrari, like Carroll Shelby, was a hot rodder in that he believed a powerful engine was at the root of a great car and undoubtedly the 1.5-liter Tipo 188 V-6 is at the core of the 156’s success.
Enzo Ferrari was reluctant to move the engine of his single-seaters aft of the driver, that is, even after he’d been beaten by the Cooper-Climax cars in 1959 and, again, in 1960.
But, in 1961, it finally happened in earnest with the F156, a car built to host Carlo Chiti's new 1.5-liter V-6.
The engine was built around the FIA’s new rules that limited engine capacity to 1.5-liters, something that the British ’garagistas’ didn’t think would actually happen - but Enzo surely pulled some strings given he had an engine ready for this formula. The end result was a car that won five out of eight races that year, including a never-before-seen 1-2-3-4 victory in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.
While Chiti’s V-6 put out about 185 horsepower, 35 more than the Coventry-Climax mill, the Ferrari F156 was over 50 pounds heavier than the Lotus 18 and, due to the use of a tubular spaceframe chassis, the car ended up being a little too wide for its own good. At Monaco and the Nurburgring, Stirling Moss exploited the shortcomings of the 156 to win in Rob Walker’s Lotus 18.
The Ferrari 156 plays no role in ’Ford v. Ferrari’ as it merely appears in the back of a shot or two inside Ferrari’s factory. As a matter of fact, its presence there is questionable to begin with as Enzo ordered all 156 chassis to be destroyed at the end of the 1962 racing season and the scenes in the movie supposedly depict negotiations taking place in the Spring of 1963. Alas, it was behind a wheel of this car that the first American World Driver’s Champion was crowned, Phil Hill winning the Italian Grand Prix to outscore team-mate Wolfgang Berghe von Trips who tragically lost his life on that very day - as bittersweet a title as Rindt’s in 1970 and, to some extent, Andretti’s in ’78.
|Price||Only replicas of the 156 exist today|
|Engine||Ferrari Tipo 188 1.5-liter DOHC V-6|
|Brakes||Ventilated discs all around, inboard in the back|
|Suspension||Double wishbones, coil springs with Koni shocks and anti-roll bars|
|Top speed||149 mph|
When Ford’s delegation arrives in Maranello, a Ferrari 275 GTB can be seen parked in front of one of the houses on the property. There’s also another example parked inside the factory itself and a few replicas were used in the racing scenes of the movie as no less than three 275 GTB/Cs raced in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. While the appearance of those four cars makes sense, the fact that the car also shows up earlier in the film doesn’t since the 275 GTB was not yet out in 1963.
The 275 is a line of grand touring berlinettas introduced in 1964 to effectively replace the aging 250-series models.
The 275 GTB was praised for its refined interior that was noticeably more luxurious than that of the 250 GT SWB or the GTO.
The refinement extended to the 275’s road manners, Maranello fine-tuning the car for road use rather than track use, acknowledging in a way that the era of road cars that could be taken to the track and raced almost unmodified had come and gone.
Ferrari built a number of 275 GTB versions. The first ones are now known as the 275 GTB/2s due to the 3.3-liter V-12 sporting two overhead cams. Later on, the four-cam engine appeared. If you can be picky, get a 275 GTB with a torque tube (no problems with drivetrain misalignment) and always watch for rust and potential ignition problems.
Compared to most of the 250-series models, the 275 GTB can still be considered cheap which is nothing short of incredible as, in itself, the 275 GTB is a multi-million-dollar exotic. To the discerning collector, it is the go-to ’60s Ferrari for long drives due to its refined nature and reliability. Older GTs from Ferraris were a bit too brash due to their competition side but the 275 GTB was a street-able supercar back in its day.
|Engine||3.3-liter, DOHC Colombo V-12|
|Output||280 horsepower (claimed, in reality about 250)|
|Brakes||Dunlop discs all around|
|Gearbox||Five-speed transaxle, all-synchromesh with LSD|
|Top speed||155 mph|
|Weight||2,866 (steel body), 2,466 (alloy body 275 GTB/C)|
Read our full review on the 1966 Ferrari 275 GTB
It was no way the makers of 'Ford v. Ferrari' would miss the opportunity of throwing a 250 GTO inside Ferrari's factory.
The creation of Giotto Bizzarrini (with finishing touches added by a young Mauro Forgheri and styling cues by Scaglietti), Ferrari’s 250 GTO is the most expensive car in the world and one of the rarest. On top of that, it was amazingly effective in competition, dominating the GT 3.0-liter class in 1962 and 1963 and thus playing an invaluable role in Ferrari’s world championship success.
Reading through this article you may be wondering what’s up with the lack of lists, so here it goes:
- the way it looks;
- the way it sounds;
- the fact it almost won Le Mans overall on its first attempt despite being a GT car and not a prototype
- the way it makes people faint when they see one
- the name
- the fact that no two GTOs are the same because the body panels were all formed by hand by skilled Italians using hammers
It was Ferrari's shrewdness that helped him dodge a bullet in the case of the 250 GTO.
The FIA homologated the car despite the fact that one of the requirements for a Group 3 GT car was a 100-unit production run. Only 36 GTOs were ever made with random chassis numbers (Ferrari told the FIA the gaps in between chassis numbers would be filled by other GTOs currently under construction). Such shenanigans would backfire in Ferrari’s face when, in late 1963, FIA refused to agree with Il Commendatore who argued that the 250 LM was a GT car and not a prototype despite there being just a handful of them built. On the other hand, Shelby, who played by the rules when homologating the Cobra 289, got a break when it came to entering the Daytona Coupe that was accepted as ’based on a Cobra Roadster,’ which was certainly not true.
The 250 GTO conquered the racing world because it was bulletproof and it conquered our hearts because it's out-of-this-world beautiful.
There’s nothing particularly innovative about the GTO: the chassis is similar to that of the 250 GT SWB and the same goes for the engine, transmission, and suspension. In fact, it was due to Ferrari’s unwillingness to go all futuristic in the design department that the 250 GTO succeeded. At the same time, however, playing it safe also assured that the car’s shelf life was short...
|Price||Anywhere between $40 and $70 million|
|Engine||3.0-liter, SOHC Colombo V-12|
|Output||300 horsepower and 217 pound-feet of torque|
|Suspension||Independent in the front with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs, Koni shocks, and an anti-roll bar, and a live rear axle in the back|
|Top speed||158 mph|
Read our full review on the 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO
1966 Ferrari 330 P3
Ferrari’s 1965 season wasn’t as bad as you may think if you start reading about Shelby American’s title challenge with the Cobra. Indeed, Bob Bondurant won the title in the GT ranks but it was the Old Man who came out on top in the prototype category.
For '65, Ferrari introduced a trifecta of models, the Dino 166 P with a 1.6-liter engine, the 275 P2 with a 3.3-liter engine, and the 330 P2 with a 4.0-liter engine.
Privateers were given the 365 P2 with a 4.4-liter engine.
Ford tried to face Ferrari in Europe but failed. It was the Scuderia or its satellite privateers that finished first overall at Monza, Spa-Francorchamps, the Nurburgring, Mugello, Reims, and the Targa Florio, as well as at Le Mans. Ford bagged the win at Daytona while a Chaparral won at Sebring. But the Italians heeded the warning of the Mk. II first seen at Le Mans (where it qualified five seconds quicker than the fastest 330 P2) and got to work on the P2’s replacement.
The P3 that came out of Forghieri’s oven was lower (the rule concerning the minimum width of the windshield was abolished at the end of ’65) and, thus, some 9 mph faster down the Mulsanne Straight. Also, the P3 featured a coupe body style with fiberglass doors. Another first for Ferrari was the usage of Lucas fuel injection instead of a cohort of Webers. The gearbox, too, wasn’t designed in-house but was a ZF part. The track of the P3 was widened and this made it a beast in corners but also added weight while there wasn’t much more to extract out of the 3.3-liter V-12.
Ferrari enlisted Ford’s World Champion, Bob Bondurant, when it debuted the P3 at Sebring but to no avail: the car was two seconds off the pace and crashed out. In fact, the P3 only ever out-qualified the GT40 Mk. II once - at Spa. There, Scarfiotti and Parkes were almost three seconds quicker than Alan Mann’s Gardner and Whitmore. Ferrari won in Belgium and Italy but failed to do so in Germany where the clutch failed on the P3 and Chaparral claimed its sole first-place finish of the year.
With almost half the engine capacity of the Ford armada (all P3s were equipped with 4.0-liter engines ahead of Le Mans), the quickest 330 P3 was fifth, 2.4 seconds adrift. In the race, all three P3s retired, one after a crash, another when the engine let go, and the N.A.R.T. car (with ex-Ford man Richie Ginther at the helm) was parked due to a gearbox failure. The four 365 P2s also retired as did five of the Mk. II Fords and all six of the Mk. I privateer cars.
In the end, Ford scored a 1-2-3 victory with its three surviving cars and only two of the three 275 GTB/Cs finished.
To add insult to injury, Ferrari lost the title by a scant two points to Ford at year’s end.
While the Ferrari 330 P3 can be considered a failure because it didn’t carry the Prancing Horse to the world title, it did spawn the similar (yet very different) 330 P4 in ’67. And, at the end of the day, the 330 P3 was never going to win in a fair fight against the Mk. II (as the movie suggests). It was slower over a lap at Le Mans due to a major deficit in top speed that couldn’t be overcome in the twisty bits.
|Price||No 330 P3s have survived, the three existing chassis being converted to P4 spec. A genuine P4 could probably go for 250 GTO money, anywhere between $30-$50 million|
|Engine||4.0-liter, DOHC V-12|
|Brakes||Discs all around|
|Suspension||Independent all around with unequal-length wishbones, coil springs, telescopic shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar at both ends|
|Top Speed||193 mph|
The Chevrolet Corvette was born as America’s answer to European sports cars but it failed to deliver, at least as first. Harley Earl, a huge fan of the German Silver Arrows, was probably flustered by the original 150 horsepower inline-six engine on the ’53 Corvette that was paired with a two-speed automatic. Soon enough, V-8-engined models appeared and, by the end of the decade, the Corvette was packing heat with as much as 290 ponies on tap from the most powerful 4.6-liter fuel-injected mill.
While GM had signed the AMA’s letter in 1957 banning any sort of factory-backed racing activity, the Corvettes made their way onto the track and some prominent dealership owners even received some semblance of help from the factory to race their ’Vettes. In the movie, we see some open-top C1s making up the numbers during the Willow Springs SCCA race that Ken Miles wins early on in the movie in what seems to be a replica of #CSX2008.
The Corvette, like Ford’s Mustang, was born to break the mold but not through ingenuity. The cross-braced chassis is a basic affair as is most of the running gear. What this means is that the car is easy to maintain and, with a GRP (glass-reinforced plastic) body, there’s no rust. Also, fit and finish is quite good (for the time) on C1 Corvettes and it only got better as years went by, Support for the Corvette, in general, is unimaginably big and you can be sure that just about any part you’d ever need when it comes to restoring a Corvette C1 is out there although some are more expensive than others and, generally speaking, the C1 is more expensive to buy too, especially if you compare it to C4/C5 bargains. After all, we’re talking here about a genuine vintage car.
The Corvette C1 wasn’t, even after Chevy bolted the 327 cubic inch (5.4-liters), a proper sports car in that it didn’t quite match the handling characteristics of its more poised European counterparts (although it was worlds apart by ’62 compared to the ’53 model). However, with over 340 horsepower at its disposal by ’62, it was fast in a straight line. The cabin is also quite cramped although it’s a thing of beauty. For ’61, an inward-sloping rear center panel was fitted to the redesigned tail that now featured four taillights. The change effectively previewed the C2 but it didn’t work on the C1 body.
The C1 is a gorgeous classic, one of the best-looking American cars ever made, especially in its '56-'57 guise before it was adorned with even more chrome.
The C1’s appearance changed quite a lot in its nine years on the market and, with so many versions out there, you’ll find yourself struggling to decide what to buy if you’re in the market for one. Our tip is to first go with the heart - when it comes to choosing which C1 iteration you like best - and then with the head when you check the cars themselves for damage, botched fixes or improper modifications.
|Price||From about $45,000 for a decent example all the way to $300,000 for a race-spec ex-racer|
|Output||315 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Drums all around|
|Suspension||Coil springs between the upper and lower control arms with a stabilizer bar in the front, leaf springs in the back|
|Top Speed||128 mph|
Read our full review on the 1961 Chevrolet Corvette C1
While the C1 didn’t start off in life as a credible sports car, many racers took first-generation examples to the race tracks and they held their own quite well against the Jaguar XK120s of the day with Bob Bondurant being one of the most successful Corvette drivers, winning the national A-Production title aboard Shelly Washburn’s No. 614 Corvette and bagging 30 race wins out of 32 starts. The C2 improved the breed further and Bondurant was one of the first to drive a C2 in anger in late ’62 with Washburn Chevrolet buying a very early C2 featuring the Z06 competition package (larger brakes, the L84 5.4-liter V-8, stiffer springs with heavy-duty dampers, and many other go-fast upgrades).
During that L.A. Times GP support race for GT cars, Bondurant raced against future Shelby team-mates who were all in Corvettes (like Dave MacDonald or Jerry Grant) and the Cobra itself, Shelby entering a 260 cubic inch (4.2-liter) version for Bill Krause.
Bondurant maintains that the Corvette Z06 could out-corner the earliest Cobras but, with 1,000 pounds of extra weight and still undersized brakes, it always broke sooner for a bend.
In the film, we see Ken Miles’ white No. 98 car, seemingly the one he drove to second place at Riverside in 1963, beat everyone in a race at Willow Springs. That didn’t quite happen in real life but what did happen is that the Cobra became the car to beat in both SCCA divisional races and in the new USRRC. Corvette tried to develop behind the scenes a 5.7-liter Sting Ray named the Grand Sport but the program was shuttered by GM’s top brass and Cobra kept winning. The C2 ’Vette could only shine again after the Cobra had left the international scene, in ’66. By then, Zora-Arkus Duntov’s men wheeled into action the fearsome L72 7.0-liter 425 horsepower big-block V-8.
Roger Penske began his career as a team owner by racing one of the first 7.0-liter Corvettes in 1966. Originally planned as a one-time thing, Penske tackled that year’s 24 Hours of Daytona to promote his Chevy dealership. The car survived a front-end-ripping collision and won its class which impressed Sunoco enough that the sponsorship deal was extended and Penske’s car won at Sebring too. We say this is all very, very good!
The Corvette C2 was the first to sport fully independent suspension.
However, transverse leaf springs were still mounted in the back. On cars that’ve been out of commission for a long while or that’ve been improperly maintained, the rear suspension is a weak point and prone to failure as the rear trailing arms rust away. The chassis’ frame rails are also susceptible to rust.
The Corvette C2 sent a shockwave all over the world when it was introduced in September of 1962 due to its iconic design signed by Bill Mitchell who took inspiration from his work on the Corvette Sting Ray Racer. While the C2 became a redoubtable weapon in long-distance endurance racing, it only happened after the Cobra disappeared from the GT ranks. Prior to that, the hopelessly overweight Corvette was always the last to reach the corner and its acceleration wasn’t impressive either, no matter the engine (compared to the Cobra, of course).
|Price||Anywhere between $40,000 and $75,000 depending on MY, body type (roadster/coupe), specifications|
|Engine||7.0-liter L72 V-8|
|Output||425 horsepower and 460 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Disc brakes (on early C2s it was drums all around)|
|Suspension||Independent with coil springs and shock absorbers between upper and lower control arms in the front and transversal leaf springs between control/trailing arms in the back|
|Top Speed||134 mph|
Read our full review on the 1966 Chevrolet Corvette C2
The Ford GT40 was, as you can read elsewhere on this site, developed in record time and, at first, was an almost all-British affair. The results of all the rush were awful: here was a car that was fast but frail and unstable to the point of being horrifying. Its rival? The well-sorted Ferraris that just went and went and went.
Ford Advanced Vehicles in Slough is where the GT40 was developed initially under the watchful eyes of ex-Aston Martin team manager John Wyer and Eric Broadley, founder and chief designer of Lola Cars. With such experienced and able pairs of hands on deck, you’d think the GT40 would be a runaway success from the word go but it was not. But, at least, it wasn’t a completely hopeless foundation on which Shelby could begin building on by ’65.
The 350 horsepower 4.7-liter V-8 was a known quantity and, in the very least, the car's cabin was large enough to feel minimally welcoming for a driver who was supposed to drive the car for up to three hours at a time in a long-distance event.
We see a bunch of prototypes in the movie, depicting how the GT40 changed in terms of design during its development process. All the changes were made to cure the car of its many problems. For starters, the nose would lift at speed, causing the car to weave from side to side. Then there was the Colotti transmission, good for something with 250 horsepower but not tough enough to cope with 350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. The brakes weren’t outstanding either and the issue of stopping power was only exacerbated when the big-block engine was dropped in the back of the GT40. Finally, the GT40 never handled as well as the Italian Ferraris.
It’s amazing to think now, some five and a half decades after the fact, that Ford thought the best way to change its public image and add some cool factor to its product lineup was to get involved in racing on all fronts. Sure, it did work out and we’re still talking about it now - hence the article opened up in front of you - but one can argue the colossal (and top secret!) amount of money that Ford spent on the GT40 program between ’64 and ’67 could’ve been directed towards better production cars, right? We should praise Hank The Deuce’s big ego that allowed him to put common sense behind and go all guns blazing with these marvellous racing cars!
|Price||$7 million and up|
|Output||350 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Discs all around|
|Suspension||Unequal wishbones with coil springs, tubular shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar in the front and dual trailing arms with upper lateral links, and reversed lower wishbones in the back|
|Top Speed||175 mph|
Read our full review on the 1964-1965 Ford GT40 Mk. I
In its early days, Porsche couldn’t trouble the big boys in long-distance endurance racing.
Its 550 RS Spyder and the 718 RS that followed were nimble and bullet-proof but lacked the power to fight for overall honors.
However, what these early open-top models did was teach Porsche an important lesson: the engine should remain in the middle in all upcoming prototypes and even in the GT cars if victory is what Porsche wants. That’s how the Porsche 904 (also known as the Carrera 4) came to be. It was Porsche’s first mid-engined coupe and it was designed by Ferdinand ’Butzi’ Porsche.
The 904 was, between 1964 and 1965, Porsche’s do-it-all racing weapon. The 904 Carrera GTS was built to Group 3 specifications (106 units were built with the flat-four four-cam Type 587/3 engine) while the 904/6 and the 904/8 with their bigger powerplants were entered in the prototype ranks. It was the first Porsche to feature a ladder-type frame, the first to be fitted with coil springs instead of the traditional trailing arms, and the first fiberglass-bodied model from Zuffenhausen. A 904 won the Targa Florio overall in ’64 and the 12 Hours of Reims in France. 904s also won their classes at all of the major endurance events well into 1966.
Heinkel, the company tasked with building the fiberglass body panels which would then be bonded to the chassis rails of the 904, was unable to manufacture panels of even thickness and, as a result, some cars ended up being as much as 200 pounds overweight compared to the homologated weight of 1,443 pounds. On top of that, the body was prone to cracking and the gearbox was a handful. Lastly, the 904 was a car that had to be caressed into doing its job, handled with utmost care for it was very unstable at the limit.
It was surprising to see the 904 make an appearance in the ’Ford v. Ferrari’ considering the car was widely seen as outdated by 1966. Some did still compete in the Prototype 2.0-liter category but most Porsche privateers had moved on already and gotten their hands on the new 906. The issue we’re having is with the 904s that appeared at Le Mans in the movie because there was no 904 entered in the big race that year.
|Engine||2.0-liter, four-cam four-cylinder|
|Suspension||Coil springs with unequal-length A-arms in front and coils in the back|
|Top speed||160 mph|
Read our full review on the 1964 Porsche 904
The Porsche 906 was Stuttgart's answer to the Ferrari Dino 206 SP, a 2.0-liter sports car that was lighter and quicker than the 904/4 and the 904/6.
Ferdinand Piech recognized early on that the sheet steel underpinnings of the 904 had to go and, as such, the 906 featured a tubular space frame. The main material was steel again but the 906 came out some 300 pounds lighter than the 904. It was the first Porsche to be fitted with a long tail at Le Mans after being tested in the wind tunnel.
It was the Carrera 6 that firmly established Porsche as one of the top names in prototype racing.
While still road legal, since it competed in hillclimb events and the Targa Florio, the 906 was as close to your average 911 as the Mustang was to the GT40. Granted, the 906 did share the five-speed gearbox with the 911 and the 2.0-liter flat-six engine but this was only because Porsche needed to cut both costs and development time. The end result was an incredibly reliable and nimble car that won the Targa Florio in ’66 and finished 4th, 5th, and 6th overall at Le Mans, right behind the Ford trifecta.
In the rush to finish the 906, Porsche decided to grab a batch of unused Porsche 904 parts and make them work on the 906. That’s why the 906 comes with heavy 15-inch wheels with five nuts like on a road car. With no center lock, tire changes took forever and there was also the issue of unsprung weight. The upcoming 910 that replaced the 906 was designed around 13-inch rims.
Despite its paltry output of 220 horsepower, Porsche’s fleet of 906s finished as best of the rest at Le Mans in ’66, proving you needn’t have +400 horsepower to produce an upset in an endurance race. What you need is a reliable car and that’s exactly what the Chaparral 2D and the Ferrari 330 P3 weren’t - and, to some extent, the GT40s. A host of 906s can be seen in ’Ford v. Ferrari’, including the long-tail models at Le Mans.
|Engine||2.0-liter boxer six-cylinder|
|Output||220 horsepower and 139 pound-feet of torque|
|Suspension||Independent at all four corners with wishbones and coil springs|
|Top speed||170 mph|
Read our full review on the 1966 Porsche 906
The Shelby GT350 was born out of Ford’s desire to turn the Mustang into a genuine sports car. After a brief discussion with SCCA’s John Bishop, Shelby knew exactly what he needed to do to turn the Mustang, a ’secretary’s car’, into a sports car: the suspension had to be beefed up, the rear bench had to be tossed, and the engine had to be replaced with something a lot more potent to keep up with other B-Production models. Shelby, at first, was reluctant to the idea of modifying and homologating the Mustang for racing. He saw the whole affair as a ’deviation’ from his main shtick which was building Cobras that’d kick Ferrari’s backside but, in the end, he did it to keep the Ford people happy and it ended up being rather profitable for Shelby American.
The Ford Mustang GT350 (also referred to as the Shelby GT350) was an instant hit in SCCA competition winning the national title three years on the trot.
While Shelby built a few thousand road-going GT350s, the B-Production GT350 R is the one that gathered all the silverware on the track.
We see one in the movie getting muscled out of the way at ’Daytona’ by Walt Hansgen which results in a fiery crash. That’s not, as you’d expect, a real GT350, but a stripped out Mustang Fastback with a GT350 R front bumper.
The GT350 R is a very rare car as little over 30 were built in 1965 and that was it. While the road-going GT350 made 306 horsepower from its 4.7-liter Windsor V-8 (up from 270 ponies, the output of an un-modified HiPo K-Code 289), the GT350 R sent to the rear wheels a rumored 350 horsepower - enough for a 0-60 mph sprint of 5.5 seconds and a 13.6-second quarter-mile run. That’s impressive even today, let alone back in 1965.
The GT350 and, likewise, the R version were built to handle a lot better than a standard Mustang Fastback. A rock-hard ride came as the main downside and then there was the price: $6,000 ($42,992 today) for a GT350 R, up by $1,300 compared to a street-legal GT350 at a time when a stock Mustang Fastback would set you back just $3,000.
Carroll Shelby’s reluctance to take on the challenge of turning the Mustang into a genuine race car proved to be baseless given the car’s prowess on the track. What is more, the name survives to this day and is only attached to some of the fastest Mustangs out there.
|Engine||4.7-liter Windsor V-8|
|Output||350 horsepower and over 300 pound-feet of torque|
|Brakes||Discs in the front and drums in the rear|
|Gearbox||Four-speed all-synchromesh, close-ratio manual|
|Suspension||Independent with Koni adjustable shocks and an anti-roll bar, with a live axle in the back with trailing arms and Koni adjustable shocks|
|Top speed||140 mph|
Read our full review on the 1965 Shelby GT350 R
1964 Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe
The Cobra Daytona Coupe was an extremely successful GT car built almost over-night by Shelby American to contest the 1964 and 1965 World Manufacturer’s Championship. The desire for a closed-top Cobra came about when the two Cobras that raced at Le Mans in ’63 with streamlined hardtops weren’t able to keep up with the Ferrari 250 GTO down the Mulsanne Straight. Air turbulence made the car unstable at speeds in excess of 165 mph while the GTO could easily surpass 170 mph. The Daytona Coupe fixed the ’speed problem’.
Pete Brock, a former GM Design graduate who’d worked under Bill Mitchell when he came up with the design for the 1959 Sting Ray Racer, conceived the body of the Daytona Coupe all on his own. He was inspired by the works of Professor Wunibald Kamm and his Kamm tail design. Brock applied that design (also seen on the Giulia Tubolare Zagato at that time) and formed the prototype’s body panels over wooden trellis laid on top of a crashed Cobra’s underpinnings.
The 'mule' was effective right away and reached 185 mph on Riverside's backstretch.
Within two months, the car was ready and it debuted - sans rear wing - at Daytona in ’64. Armed with the Cobra Coupe, the world title was already within grasp of Shelby American until Enzo Ferrari pulled some strings and made the Monza round a non-points-scoring event. Undeterred, Shelby bounced back and the Cobra Coupe ran virtually unopposed in 1965 on its way to the title.
Shelby American was also tasked with developing the GT40 in 1965 and this meant there was nobody left to continue development on the Coupe, a car Pete Brock and Ken Miles thought could win Le Mans overall. Ford didn’t like the Coupe at all since it was a car developed in-house by Shelby that had the potential to steal the limelight from the GT40 and, as such, the Coupe never received a 7.0-liter engine, for instance.
The Shelby Cobra Daytona Coupe is one of the most significant American racing cars as it was the first to win an FIA World Championship title.
Just six were built and, unless your name is Walton or Bezos, you probably can’t afford one. While the car was somewhat unappreciated in period, it’s now getting the praise it deserves. C Coupe became in 2014 the first Federally registered historic car.
|Output||373 horsepower and 326 pound-feet of torque|
|Suspension||Lower wishbones, upper transverse leaf springs, telescopic shock absorbers|
|Top speed||190 mph|
The Cobra was never meant to take in the NASCAR-based 7.0-liter big-block V-8 engine that ended up also powering the Ford GT40 Mk. II.
It all happened because Chevrolet, through its R&D department, was preparing a bunch of lightweight Corvettes that were supposed to take the Group 3 GT class by storm in 1963. With a 5.7-liter V-8 (which later grew to 6.2-liters), the Corvette GS was 1,000 pounds lighter than the stock Corvette C2 and could squash a 4.7-liter Cobra any day of the week.
GM’s top brass found out about the skunkworks department and its 550 horsepower GS and put an end to the malarkey before the 1963 season had even begun. But all this was not known by Shelby American who rushed to prepare a 289 frame that would take in the 427 engine. The prototype was supposed to take on John Mecom’s Corvettes at Nassau in December of 1963 but Ken Miles wrecked it.
Despite Chevy’s decision to pull the plug early on the GS program, the 427’s development continued throughout 1964 (a race version was seen at Sebring in ’64) and the production model was ready in ’65. Just 343 427s were built until 1967 and, while unruly, they were better in almost every way than the 289s that preceded them. With underpinnings designed by Ford’s Klaus Arning, who was also responsible for the GT40’s chassis, the 427 was a supple car riding on coil springs at all four corners. The tires were fatter than on just about any other production car and, with Ken Miles behind the wheel, it could go from 0 to 100 mph and then back to 0 in 13.8 seconds. An average person could pull it off in about 14.5 seconds which was still about 10 seconds quicker than what a ’61 DB4 GT could muster.
While the 427’s chassis was superior to the 289’s and the same can be said about the all-independent coil spring suspension, the big-engined Cobra was no easy car to drive at speed. The rear tires would spin all the way through third gear and it liked to swap ends even in the dry. In other words, it was a dangerous car and it lacked amenities just like any other Cobra.
Most people think of a Cobra 427 when thinking about the ’Shelby Cobra’. Those bulging arches and the huge mouth in the front have graced more walls than probably any Lamborghini and we’re sure there are more 427 replicas out there than any replicas of any other type of car. Having said that, the 427 wasn’t a particularly successful car in its day as people were scared off by how fast it went. On the tracks, however, all that oomph was a good thing and not even the Corvette L88 could keep up with the Cobra in SCCA competition between ’65 and ’69.
|Engine||7.0-liter FE-series OHV V-8|
|Output||Between 450 and 510 horsepower and 480 pound-feet of torque|
|Suspension||Independent all around with double wishbones and coil springs|
|Top speed||155 mph|
Read our full review on the 1965 Shelby Cobra 427
1960 Ford Country Squire Wagon
It’s not clear what the Miles had as a family car in real life but, in ’Ford v. Ferrari’, Ken’s wife Molly can be seen driving around and about (once at a rather perilous rate of speed) in a green Ford Country Squire Wagon, with the appropriate ’wooden’ paneling along the sides. Two were used for filming and the pristine example the film crew rented ended up being not so sound. "So you find one everyone has their hopes and prayers on. And yeah, it’s reliable. And yeah, the mechanics have seen it. And then on the first pass along Mulholland Drive, the transmission craps out."
The Ford Country Squire Wagon was billed as "Queen of the Station Wagon Kingdom" and was trimmed similarly to a Galaxie.
As a full-size wagon, the Country Squire could seat nine people and the middle bench featured a 2/3-1/3-split for easy access to the last row.
Upmarket options for the Country Squire included a SelectAire Conditioner, a pushbutton-tuned Console Range Radio, and a four-way manual tilt or power front seat.
At almost $3,000, the Country Squire was less than $500 up on the entry-level wagon from Ford, the Tudor Ranch Wagon. That’s because all of the wagons (and sedans) shared the same underpinnings, Ford’s Safety-Girder ladder-style box frame with five cross-members. This is all good until you find out the floorpan is prone to corrosion. Then there’s the issue of power. At 4,100 pounds, the Country Squire is a mammoth of a car and you want the Interceptor V-8 under the hood if you’ll ever going to pass someone anywhere.
The Country Squire Wagon sure is a funky looking people/grocery carrier, one that blends in well with the ’60s aesthetic of the movie. While you may want one after seeing ’Ford v. Ferrari’ (it’s about the most affordable car that gets significant screen time in the film), remember that good examples are hard to find. Moreover, while the drivetrain is archaic and easy to work on/fix/replace, some parts are quite unique (the side wood panels, the tailgate, the split-folding bench) and can be hard to locate if you’re in dire need of a replacement.
|Output||235-360 horsepower (depending on the number of carburetors), +300 pound-feet of torque|
|Gearbox||Three-speed manual/Ford-O-Matic or Cruise-O-Matic automatic|
|Suspension||Independent in the front with upper and lower control arms, and coil springs over hydraulic tube shocks in the front, and a live rear axle with longitudinal semi-elliptic leaf springs in the back|
|Top speed||80 mph|
1966 Ford GT40 Mk. II
The Ford GT40 Mk. II is the 'star car' of the movie, the one we watch being driven hard everywhere from Daytona to Le Mans and from Willow Springs to the runway strips at the LAX airport.
It’s a legend in its own right having won, in its second year of competition, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. We’ve chronicled its topsy-turvy development here.
After yet another painful defeat at the hands of Ferrari, Henry Ford II wanted to win the 1966 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans at any cost - literally. Many, many, many millions of dollars were poured into the development of the 1966-spec Mk. II that differed greatly from the ’65 model. Many engines were tested to their limits on the dyno via computerized running patterns, many miles were eaten up by test mules turning laps around Riverside, Willow Springs, and Daytona, and a few key innovations (like the detachable brakes/pads) went into the car that finally delivered the goods.
The Mk. II became obsolete almost overnight and Ford knew it, developing the J-Car almost in tandem. By the time the Mk. IIs (in ’B’ specification), arrived at Daytona in 1967, they were outclassed by Ferrari’s latest prototype that made the big-engine GT40s seem like elephants racing against gazelles. Also, the brake problem was never fully fixed due to the car being chronically overweight.
It goes without saying that the 1966 Ford GT40 Mk. II is a legend.
It has been a legend ever since that day in June when it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the fact that someone got up and made a film about the whole thing only underlines how endearing the GT40 Mk. II is along with the men that created it after years of trial and a lot of error.
|Output||485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque|
|Gearbox||Four-speed manual transaxle|
|Suspension||Independent at all four corners with unequal A-arms, coil springs, tube shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar in the front and trailing arms, unequal-length lateral arms, coil springs, tube shock absorbers, and an anti-roll bar in the rear|
|Top speed||205 mph|
Read our full review on the 1966 Ford GT40 Mk. II
1966 Ford J Car
It’s not to say that 20th Century Fox cheapened out when it came to some of the cars you see in ’Ford v. Ferrari’ but it sure seems like that’s what happened. While we can forgive the appearance of the Cobra 427 inside Shelby American’s HQ in 1963, it’s hard to defend the film-makers’ decision to use the 330 P4 instead of the P3 and throw in there a white 250 GTO in one of the crash scenes instead of the ’White Elephant’. In the same vein, we can raise questions about what ’Ford v. Ferrari’ sold to us as the J-Car when, in fact, it was nothing more than a modified Mk. II with a longer nose and an extended wing.
Sure, getting things right is expensive when you’re filming a historic movie, but it’s sad to see some of the most important cars in the film be botched like that. While neither the 330 P3 nor the J-Car has survived to this day, there exist blueprints and many pictures of both cars and replicas could’ve been built based on that material.
Moving away from our little 'rant', the J-Car was an important part of Ford's Le Mans story.
It led to the creation of the All-American GT Mk. IV (built by Kar Kraft) that won the race in ’67. The J-Car itself, like the Mk. IV, pioneered the usage of aluminum honeycomb panels bonded together to form the monocoque chassis that weighed only 86 pounds. The whole car was a whopping 300 pounds lighter than the Mk. II and it was the fastest during the 1966 Le Mans Test Day.
The lightweight monocoque chassis lacked a proper roll-bar early on and, as Shelby American found out after Ken Mile’s deadly crash at Riverside in August of ’66, rigidity wasn’t the J-Car’s main strength. A full-blown roll-cage was later designed and the addition of the roll-cage is probably what saved Mario Andretti’s life, the American suffering a vicious crash during the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans that destroyed most of his Mk. IV apart from the cockpit area.
The J-Car (named like that as it was built to the Appendix J rules introduced for 1966) is an infamous car due to the Riverside crash that claimed the life of Miles. Carroll Shelby later confessed that no other loss of a driver hit him as hard as when Miles died in that fiery crash. Shrouded in tragedy, the story of the J-Car does have a bright side in the introduction of a roll-bar inside the Mk. IVs.
|Price||None has survived|
1966 Porsche 911S
The Porsche 911 (nee 901) first saw the light of day in September of 1963 but it first raced at Le Mans almost six years later, in 1966. It was a faultless debut for what is largely considered to be the most successful car in the history of post-War endurance racing with countless class wins and outright wins in the world’s most important long-distance events such as the 12 Hours of Sebring, the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring. But, in 1966, there was only one 911 on the grid and its debut was overshadowed by the ongoing fight between Ford and Ferrari.
Porsche was always going to race the 911 and, at Le Mans in ’66, a 911 S took the start entered by ’J. Franc’ (Jacques Dewez) and driven by ’Franc’ and Jean Kerguen. The car survived the overnight deluge to come home 14th overall and first in the GT 2.0-liter class. Winning the class was a matter of survival for the French team that year as the 911 ran unopposed. But this reliability run surely helped Porsche market the 911 S (for Super) which was available to the masses beginning in September.
The S was more powerful than a standard 911 and Porsche couldn't quite mitigate the effects of the extra power despite adding a rear anti-roll bar.
At the time, Car and Driver wrote about the 911 S’ understeery nature at speed, a by-product of a rear weight bias coupled with that kind of power and the rapid delivery.
The 911 S was a sign of things to come on more levels than one. From a stylistic point of view, it was the first 911 to feature the now-classic Fuchs wheels and, from a performance standpoint, it underlined Porsche’s determination to take its new long-legged grand tourer to the gym, this whole process resulting in the birth of the track-focused ST and, by 1973, of the first Carrera RS.
|Output||160 horsepower and 144 pound-feet of torque|
|Suspension||MacPherson struts on single transverse A-arms connecting to longitudinal torsion bars with Koni shocks and an anti-roll bar in the front and transverse torsion bars and semi-trailing arms with an anti-roll bar in the rear|
|Top speed||141 mph|