• 1964 - 1969 Ford GT40

In the early-1960s, Ford had gained an interest in long-distance road racing and decided it was time to invest in a car that could compete in the likes of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. In 1963, Ford and Ferrari struck a deal for production, but Ferrari cut the project off after they couldn’t come to an agreement as to whether Ford could participate in the Indy 500 or not.

Ford then decided if Ferrari wasn’t going to work with them, they were going to beat them. Ford negotiated with both Lotus and Lola before deciding to go with Lola, but the car was a complete mess and retired much more than it finished. After the 1964 Nassau race, Carroll Shelby stepped in to right the ship.

Between 1966 and 1969, the GT40 went on to win the Le Mans an impressive four times in a row, entrenching it in racing history and propelling Carroll Shelby even further into legendary status. Following the 1969 model year, the GT project was shut down and the GT40 production stopped at just 107 cars, ending its impressive run.

Update 05/06/2016: An excellent example of a 1966 Ford GT40 from the Jim Click Collection has been listed for auction with RM Sotheby’s and will go under the hammer on August 19th of this year. Click on the “Photos” link to see the new images from the auction listing.

Check out our full review on the GT40 after the jump.

  • 1964 - 1969 Ford GT40
  • Year:
    1964- 1969
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Transmission:
    5-Speed Manual
  • Horsepower @ RPM:
    440 @ 6000
  • Torque @ RPM:
    395
  • Top Speed:
    210 mph
  • 0-100 time:
    8 sec.
  • Price:
    11000000
  • car segment:
  • body style:

A Little Design History

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 469603
1964-1965 Ford GT40 Mk. I

For those that don’t know what a GT40 looks like, we’ll give you a second to crawl from under the rock you’ve been living under to learn the basics and even a few small details that some enthusiasts may not know. Essentially, the GT40 saw four renditions, not counting the experimental J-car, all of which were similar to one another, but had their stark differences. There was one special edition model, the Mirage, that was a revision to the Mk II model.

Mk I

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 469601

The Mk I model, which was first introduced in 1964, was the first GT40 built after prototype testing and it bears the traditional “Ford GT” styling, with its wedge-shaped front end, square headlights with aerodynamic plastic covers, low-slung, 40.5-inch-high roof (the meaning of the “40” in “GT40”), and drop-off tail section. Its styling was one of the marvels of the 1960s with its swooping body design and aluminum chassis, but its mechanical limitations were its downfall.

Mk II

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 469597

The Mk II GT40 is far and away the most notable model, as this was the Carroll Shelby era and the most successful model. Shelby came in and saw a perfect looking racecar with sub-par mechanics, and designed the MK II model for the 1967 Daytona race. The GT40 Mk II was literally a mock-up of the Mk I with a different drivetrain. In fact, the MK I actually ran with the Mk II’s drivetrain in the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Mk II didn’t officially go into production until after the `65 Le Mans race. The Mk II GT40 had immediate success, finishing 1-2-3-5 in the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring.

Mk III

The MkII was the black sheep of the GT40s, as it was the road model that Ford detuned. These seven models, which were all 1967 model year cars, were very much different than the Le Mans models. This street racer was about 8 inches longer than the racing model, boasted four round headlights, revised engine-cooling vents, and Borrani wire wheels. The interior was, of course, completely redesigned to suit daily driving, including the changeover to left-hand drive. The MK III was a dark day for the GT40 and the majority of folks looking to buy a GT40, just bought an MK I directly from Wyer Ltd.

MK IV

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 Exterior
- image 469707

The MK IV GT40 was built on the same chassis as the experimental J-car, giving it a starkly different look than any previous GT40s. The MK IV model had a stubby front end, complemented by a much longer rear end. This was also the first time that the GT40 featured a NASCAR-like steel roll cage. The MK IV was significantly heavier (600 lbs) than its direct rival, Ferrari, but still won its only two races it ran – 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Mirage

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 469605

The GT40 Mirage was an attempt to recapture the glory days of the GT40 with some more modern technology. It was debuted for the 1967 racing season as a Mirage, then in 1968, it was run under the GT40 name. It was converted back to the MK II GT40 model after the FIA placed stricter regulations on the Prototype classification’s engines. The body is super-lightweight and boasts carbon filament aluminum construction, a fully vented spare wheel cover, and extra-wide rear wheel arches.

Chassis No. P/1074 is a good example of the Mirage Gulf racecar that really got the GT40 back into the limelight late in its life. This powder blue model with orange straight stripe down the center has been carefully restored after living a tough life that saw its roof hacked off and nose changed, so it could be the film car in Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans” movie production. It later became the camera car in the 1970 Le Mans 24-Hour race.

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 469608

It underwent a complete restoration in 2002, which reinstalled its roof, nose and reconstructed its tail section. Since then, it has been run in a few recreational races and has been meticulously maintained by its owner.

Engines and Drivetrains

MK I

In the early testing phases, Ford fitted the GT40 with a 4.2-liter (255 cubic-inch) alloy V-8 engine, but once production rolled around that all changed. In production models, the Mk I GT40 boasts a 4.7-liter (289 cubic-inch) V-8 engine, which it borrowed from the Mustang. In later years, it came with a 7.0-liter (427 cubic-inch) V-8 engine. The Mk I used several transmission configurations, including a Hewland LG500 4-speed manual and several automatics.

Mk II

The Mk II came fitted with a 7.0-liter (427 cubic-inch) V-8 engine taken from a Ford Galaxie. No horsepower numbers were released at the time and there is no transmission information available on the Mk II.

Mk III

The Mk III came with the same 4.7-liter V-8 engine found in the Mk I GT40, with one big difference. Ford had to detune the 4.7-liter engine to “only” 306 horsepower. The Mk III model boasted a ZF-built 5-speed manual transmission.

Mk IV

The Mk IV model may have looked totally different from the other GT40s, but under its hood is something very familiar. The Mk IV actually used the exact same 7.0-liter V-8 engine that the Mk II GT40 used, and it produced 500 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 470 pound-feet of torque at 5,000 rpm. This engine hooked up to a Kar Kraft T44 4-speed transmission.

Mirage

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 Drivetrain
- image 469609

The Mirage used several variations of Ford engines, peaking at a 5.7-liter V-8 variety. Chassis No. P/1074 currently uses the 4.7-liter (289 cubic-inch) V-8 engine with a quintuplet of 48 IDA carburetors. This pumps the Mirage’s total output to 440 horsepower at 6,800 rpm. This engine drives the rear wheels via a ZF 5DS-25 5-speed manual transmission.

Setting Records in 2012

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 469612

The GT40 was once a force to be reckoned with and set new racing records repeatedly. In 2012, it’s too outdated to set any racing records, but it sure can set pricing records. Chassis No. P/1074 sold at an RM Auction in August 2012 at an astonishing $11 million – a new auction record. We’re not sure what exactly incited this bidding war, but we are kind of shocked, given this model is not sold with a title – the buyer only got a bill of sale.

The typical GT40 racer will pull in about $1 million at auction. The MKIII isn’t given a value by NADA, but is valued at about $400,000.

Conclusion

1964 - 1969 Ford GT40 High Resolution Exterior
- image 469611

If you don’t love the GT40, yes even the bastardized Mk III model, you likely need to visit the local psychiatrist for an evaluation. These cars look stunning even by today’s standards, and they are over 40 years old. $11 million, on the other hand, is way too much for a car that likely should have gone for $3 to $5 million. The fact that the car has no title just makes matters even worse, but its movie fame and history alone must have been enough for its buyer. As we always say, a classic car is worth only what someone is willing to pay for it.

  • Leave it
    • $11 million, oh my...
    • The poor Mk III gets kicked around by its big brothers
    • Good luck fixing something that breaks
Justin Cupler
Justin Cupler
About the author

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2 comments:

  (291) posted on 08.28.2012

Many vintage car enthusiasts will surely lure if this car made some improvements. This kind of model is the one that people are looking for.

  (692) posted on 08.28.2012

I think if they will just make some improvements in performance and design of this car, this vintage model will surely make it to the market at a high level.

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