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The Ford GT40 story - you can't beat cubic dollars


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#1 rvec

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 10:55 AM

I recently purchased the DVD entitled The 24 Hour War, a documentary film about the struggles of the Ford Motor Company to win the twenty-four hours of LeMans against all odds. I was intrigued and read a couple of very good books on the history of the GT40 (Ford GT40 by Trevor Legate and Go Like Hell by A.J. Baime). I just had to learn more, so some internet research was in order.

I find that the best way to organize my thoughts is to put them down on paper, in logical order. That is how this project was hatched. Below is an excerpt from a soon to be published book to be made into a major motion picture; well maybe not.
 

The Ford GT40 Story - You cant beat Cubic Dollars


Deep in thought and oblivious to his surroundings, Henry Ford II (HFII) paced back and forth in his luxurious walnut paneled office. From time to time he stopped, peering out of a bank of windows yet seeing nothing. The office was well appointed with a large mahogany desk, several leather backed chairs and a small conference table nestled in one corner adjacent to a wet bar. Ford was angry, very angry. His recent overture to purchase Ferrari had been rejected after Ford had spent millions on due diligence and believed a deal was in the making. Ford thought; we are going to win LeMans. We are going to kick Ferraris ass. Some suspect that Ferrari had no intention of selling out to Ford and that Enzos real purpose was to squeeze more cash out of Fiat in order to support Ferraris racing effort. The relationship between Fiat and Ferrari was long standing, dating back to the early 1930s. For years, Fiat had provided a stipend to Ferrari for the prestige Ferrari brought to Italian automobiles. After the Ford, Ferrari deal fell through, Fiat approached Ferrari, and Fiat ultimately became a 50% stakeholder in Ferrari in 1969. This provided Enzo with cash to pursue his passion, racing. This revelation that the Ford, Ferrari deal was a ruse fueled HFIIs anger. It was now quite personal. Henry Ford II thought; money is no object. Hell, we blew two hundred and fifty million dollars on the Edsel. We can certainly afford tens of millions to create a LeMans winner. With the cubic dollars at hand and the backing of an autocratic and committed leader Ford could not and did not fail but there is so much more to the story.

Of course, it is not known exactly what Henry Ford II was thinking, however it is known he was angry and was quoted as saying, We are going to kick Ferraris ass. We know that he was committed to the project because of his subsequent actions; seemingly unlimited budgets, and hiring the best race team managers and drivers. The list of drivers is virtually a list of whos who in racing and included Dan Gurney, A.J. Foyt, Ken Miles, Bruce McLaren, Denny Hulme, Phil Hill, Mario Andretti and many more. What is truly amazing about the GT40 story is that this iconic vehicle was only a dream when Henry Ford uttered that oft quoted statement, yet the first prototype was finished within a year. It is true that the GT40 endured serious setbacks in late 1963 and 1964 and failed to win LeMans in its first two attempts. Early problems included failing welds, Colotti gearbox failures, overheating, brake failures and maybe the most serious issue; excessive aerodynamic lift in the rear at high speed. Over time these problems were resolved in one fashion or another. The tide began to turn at Daytona in early 1965 when the GT40 finished a race for the first time and finished first. The GT40s went on to win LeMans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969. In my opinion, the win in 1967 was Fords greatest achievement. The car that won the race was a Ford GT40 MKIV which was designed and built entirely in the United States and driven by Americans, Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt (see image below).
 

J5_LeMans_67_Race_Winner.jpg


The first GT40 Prototype was introduced in April of 64. Over the years several incarnations appeared from the MKI, Mk II prototype, Mk II, Mk II B, Mirage M1, J-car and MKIV. The GT40 also inspired the builders of three liter, Ford powered prototypes like the Ford F3L and Mirage M2.
 

GT40 prototype drawing.gif

GT40 Mk I Drawing.gif

GT40 Big Block  Prototype Drawing.jpg

GT40 Mk II Drawing.jpg

J-Car_Drawing.jpg

GT40 Mk IV Drawing.jpg

Mirage M1 Drawing.jpg

Ford F3L_DrawingFinalp2.jpg

Mirage M2 DrawingD@.jpg











At the outset of the project, Ford knew virtually nothing about lightweight, race car design. That expertise came by way of an agreement with Eric Broadley of Lola who was hired as a consultant and brought with him two Lola Mk6s (aka Lola GTs). The Lolas were fabricated using new, lightweight monocoque construction and became the basis for the GT40 chassis design and construction. The aerodynamic shape was a product of Fords design studio in Dearborn, Michigan. The final ingredient or should I say, ingredients were the power plants. For the most part, two motors were used to power GT40s. The 289 cubic inch small block and the rock crushing, NASCAR tested 427 cubic inch big block. Without these ingredients in the mix, Ford would not have succeeded in its quest to win at LeMans.

A total of 133 GT40s were produced including 12 prototypes, 94 production vehicles (including 7 Mk III road cars), five lightweights, three Mirage M1s with GT40 chassis and 12 J cars (later known as MK IVs). Many still exist in car collections and some are even raced in vintage events. The design was so popular that hundreds of replica and kit cars have been produced over the years. Some replicas are nearly indistinguishable from the originals while some are very poor quality kits. In any case, the proliferation of replicas is some indication of the popularity of this iconic machine.

The first GT40 prototype was unveiled in April of 64 with much fanfare. The 1964 season; however was a disaster for the Fords. Ferrari won the World Championship easily, while the Fords, although showing some promise, suffered crushing blows. One or more GT40s were entered in the Nurburgring 1000K, LeMans, Reims and in Nassau Speed Weeks. Not a single GT40 finished. Problems included suspension and gearbox failures, cracks in chassis welds and an engine failure. In addition, the first two GT40 prototypes built (GT101 and GT102) were destroyed in crashes; one while testing at LeMans in April, the other in a crash while testing at MIRA in October. In the midst of this turmoil, Ford began exploring the replacement of the 289 small block power plant with the big block 427 for the GT40. The engine swap would not be a simple task because it would require chassis and rear bodywork modifications to handle the added weight and larger dimensions of the 427 cubic inch power plant.

In December of 64, Shelby American was selected to manage the Race Team and develop the car. This was an important turning point. In the intervening eight weeks between early December and the Daytona 2000K, Shelby extensively tested, modified and upgraded the GT40. In addition to the changing internals, the outward appearance of the prototype was changed to include a blunt nose which improved the aerodynamics and widened rear bodywork to accept wider wheels and tires. The shape of the small block GT40 was now essentially set. The production version would be dubbed the GT40 MKI.

Early season successes included a win and third place at Daytona; a second place at Sebring and a third place at Monza. Unfortunately the best that the GT40 could do at Nurburgring was eighth. Meanwhile, the first of the 427 powered GT40s was completed in the second week of May of 65. The car featured an elongated nose and two vertical fins on the rear bodywork. Although clearly a GT40, it appeared ungainly. Initial testing was very promising and the Ford brass decreed that the big block GT40 was to make its debut at LeMans. A second 427 powered GT40 was completed just prior to LeMans. A full frontal assault was made on LeMans with a total of six Ford entries, including two 427 powered prototypes and four small block GT40 MKIs. Although the big block GT40s ran first and second early on, both retired with gearbox failures. All of the MKIs retired; three with head gasket failures and one with a gearbox failure. Again Ferrari won the World Championship in 65.

Fords top brass wanted results and was unhappy with the LeMans fiasco. Following some heated debate among the principals, a new direction was set. It was determined that a brand new car would be designed. The new vehicle (initially dubbed the J-Car and ultimately called the GT40 MKIV) would be lighter than its previous GT40 incarnations and would be powered by a big block motor. If the J-Car was ready for LeMans in 66, it would be run. As a backup, work would continue with the development of the current big block version of the GT40 (ultimately dubbed the GT40 Mk II) and it would be raced until the J-Car was ready. Just to cover all of the bases, the development of a light weight GT40 MKI would be farmed out, but make no mistake, the lions share of time and money would be spent on the big block options.

For the upcoming 66 season, a concerted effort was undertaken to make the big block power plant bulletproof and yet make it lighter. Aluminum heads and an alloy water pump replaced their cast iron counterparts. These and other modifications reduced weight by about 50 pounds. Extensive tests were run on Fords dynos simulating loads and shift points that would be experienced at LeMans. Some of these tests lasted as long as forty-eight hours. In addition the transmission was designed with a light alloy case and very beefy gears. The braking system was redesigned so that brake pads and disks could be replaced very quickly at pit stops. Bodywork was redesigned with the aid of extensive wind tunnel testing. The final front end design appeared to mirror the MKI; however, the front bodywork was shortened by about nine inches. The rear bodywork was based upon the MKI; however, it included additional scoops for cooling the brakes and larger power plant. Lighter fiberglass was used to fabricate the body panels. The Mk IIs were the dominant force in 66, finishing 1-2-3-5 at Daytona, 1-2 at Sebring, second at Spa. The lightweight small block GT40s (AMGT-1 an AMGT-2) were entered in a few contests early in the season but failed to finish. Meanwhile slow progress was made on the brand new J-Car. The first J-Car was completed in March of 66 but it was far from ready to race.

The most important contest of the season was, of course LeMans. Eight works Mk IIs were entered and supplemented by six privately entered MKIs. GT40 Mk IIs were triumphant, finishing 1-2-3 at LeMans. Ford had finally achieved its ambitious goal of not only winning but dominating the most prestigious sports car race in the world. Many believed that with this victory in hand that Ford would withdraw from European sports car racing but not so. Henry Ford II wanted to win LeMans with a car entirely designed and constructed in America and piloted by American drivers. That car was to be the J-Car. The chassis employed the cutting edge technology of a honeycomb aluminum/composite design. The body shape was unusual with the rear bodywork flowing straight back from the windshield. Although the shape had been wind tunnel tested, the J-Car suffered from high speed stability problems. While testing the car at Riverside in August, Ken Miles was killed in a high speed wreck. Kens tragic death stunned the Ford camp and the J-Car project was halted for a time. As a result of the accident a NASCAR style roll cage became an integral part of the J-Car chassis. In addition, a new body shape was hastily crafted by a small team of designers and yielded great results. The car with new bodywork was re-christened the GT40 MKIV.

Development of the MKIV had taken longer than planned and the car was not ready for the Daytona 24 hour race held on 2/5/67. Instead, Ford entered six Mk IIs. The big block Mk IIs were supplemented by three small block GT40s entered by various other teams. Daytona was a disappointment, with GT40s finishing 6-7-8. All of the Mk IIs had been fitted with transmissions from the same defective batch and all failed. The only Mk II to finish had its transmission replaced with one from a spare car.

A single GT40 MKIV made its debut at Sebring on 4/1/67. The car driven by the team of McLaren/Andretti won easily. A Mk II finished second, nearly twelve laps down. No Ford works cars were entered in the intervening races prior to LeMans. It is interesting to note that John Wyer Automotive (JWA) saw great potential in a light weight, small block GT40 with better aerodynamics. Using a light GT40 chassis and modified bodywork, the JWA car was dubbed the Mirage M1. A two car team of Mirage M1s was entered at Monza, Spa, Nurburgring and LeMans. The Mirage showed promise, winning at Spa, but alas, the project was scrapped due to a rule change for the 68 season.

Again, the twenty-four hours of LeMans held on 6/11/67 was the premier race of the season. Seven big block Fords were entered including four MKIVs and three Mk IIs. These were supplemented by three small block GT40s and two Mirage M1s managed by various teams. The Ford MKIV driven by Gurney/Foyt took the victory, leading the race from about the five hour mark until the end. A second MKIV driven by McLaren/Donohue managed a fourth place finish (no other Fords completed the race). Henry Ford II had achieved his goal. An all American car with a team of all American drivers had won the most prestigious event in racing. After victory at LeMans in 67, Ford withdrew support for European sports car racing although a Mk IIB was entrusted to Ford France for the balance of the year and met with some success.
In 67, the sanctioning body for European sports car racing changed the rules for the 68 season late in the game. The new rules limited prototypes to a displacement of three liters. This made the MKIV, Mk II and Mirage M1s ineligible to compete in 68. The new rules did allow production cars with a maximum of five liters to compete in what was called Group 4. In order to be homologated into Group 4, a minimum of 50 units must have been built. Since the GT40 MKI met the criteria, it was eligible to compete in Group 4. Voila, the MKI was given a new life. It would now be up against prototypes with a much smaller displacement than in prior years. Even though the three liter prototypes would have much more sophisticated motors, the five liter displacement pushrod Ford power plants coupled with a proven chassis design would be able to compete effectively in the 68 and maybe even the 69 season.

As a protest to the late in the game rule changes, Ferrari withdrew its factory teams for competition in 68. Porsche, flush with cash from the success of the 911, would be the main competition for the MKIs. Lola T70 Mk IIIs homologated under Group 4 participated in several endurance races in 68, albeit without much success. The Lolas qualified well but suffered from reliability problems. If the reliability issues were addressed, the Lolas would certainly be a threat.

For the 68 season, JWA, backed by the Gulf Oil Company, fielded teams of two or three cars. JWA had converted the lightweight Mirage M1 chassis back to GT40 MKI specifications and married the chassis to a lightweight GT40 body. The Gulf Oil cars were quicker and handled better than their production MKI counterparts. The Gulf MKIs had mixed results in the races leading up to LeMans 68. JWAs GT40s failed to finish at Daytona and Sebring; finished third at Nurburgring; won the BOAC 500 and Monza; nabbed first place finishes at Spa and Watkins Glen. Porsches won races in which the GT40s were not at the top of the leader board. Ford Europe coupled with sponsorship from Castrol and Goodyear fielded two identical three liter prototypes dubbed the F3L. The cars were funded on a shoestring budget and failed to finish a major race. The Porsche, GT40 rivalry set up the premier event of 68, LeMans, of course. The make winning LeMans would also win the World Championship. Porsche 908s qualified 1-2-3 with JWA GT40s fourth, sixth and ninth but certainly in the hunt. Both makes had problems and the lead swapped many times; however around 9 A.M. the JWA GT40 piloted by Rodriguez/Bianchi took over the lead and held on to the finish. As a result Ford won the World Championship in 68.

After the win at LeMans and with the backing of Gulf Oil, JWA turned its full attention to the development of a new three liter LeMans prototype dubbed the Mirage M2. However; progress on the M2 was slower than expected and the BRM, V12 motor lacked power and reliability. It would be mid-April of 69 before the M2 entered the fray. For the early season of 69, JWA was forced to field the same lightweight GT40s as run in 68.
At the behest of several manufacturers, the sanctioning body changed the rules again. For the 69 season, a five liter prototype could be run if 25 copies of the car were produced in a single year. Porsche decided to invest in a brand new five liter prototype dubbed the 917. While the 917 was under development its works teams would run the now battle tested 908s. When ready, the team would switch over to the more powerful 917s. Ferrari was back in the mix in 69 with its newly minted 312 P. The small block Chevy Lola T70 Mk IIIs could be a threat if reliability problems were addressed. New cars from Matra and Alfa Romeo might also challenge for podium spots in 69.

Early season 69 was a mixed bag for JWA. Daytona produced a surprise winner; a Penske prepared Lola T70 Mk IIIB. The Lola was handed the win as both Porsches and GT40s fell by the wayside (one JWA GT40 suffered from a cracked block while the other JWA entry crashed). At Sebring, The JWA GT40 piloted by Ickx/Oliver was handed the win as the best of the Porsches, the Ferrari 312P and the Lolas failed to finish. The BOAC 500 grid included a newly minted M2, a JWA GT40 and a couple of Ford F3Ls ranged against a bevy of Porsche 908s, a single Ferrari 312P and several Lolas. The best that the Fords could do was a fifth place finish behind three Porsches and the Ferrari 312P (the M2 ran off pace then suffered a broken half shaft while one of the F3Ls did not start and the other retired with low oil pressure). JWA entered Mirage M2s at Spa and Nurburgring. The best a Mirage could do was seventh at Spa (no others finished).

Then it was on to the big show, LeMans 69. JWA decided to enter two of its lightweight GT40s rather than the unproven M2s. The GT40s were clearly out gunned. The 917s were about 15 seconds per lap quicker than the best of the GT40s. The best of the 908s were about 8 seconds per lap quicker than the GT40s. The Matras and Ferrari 312Ps posted lap times only a couple of seconds quicker than the GT40s.
The 917s suffered from high speed stability problems even though they were the class of the field. This was highlighted on the first lap of the race when a 917 driven by privateer, John Woolfe, crashed at high speed and was killed instantly. The flaming wreckage also took out one of the Ferrari 312Ps although its driver walked away unhurt. It is interesting to note that the 917s stability problems were ultimately addressed with a redesign of the rear bodywork.

Porsches took the early lead occupying the top six spots. The GT40 pilots knew better than to give chase. As the hours passed, attrition took its toll while the GT40s ran within their limits. At the eight hour mark, Porsches were running 1-2-3 while the JWA GT40s were fourth and fifth. An accident then put the JWA GT40 driven by Ickx/Oliver into third place. During the morning hours, the Porsches running 1-2 dropped out; one due to a split gearbox, the other due to clutch failure. The Ickx/Oliver GT40 took over the lead with a Porsche 908 in second place and on the same lap as the leader. These two battled it out to the finish. In the end, the GT40 came away the winner, albeit by only a matter of yards. The other JWA entry finished third. LeMans would mark the end of the GT40s reign. Porsche with its 917 would go on to dominate endurance racing in the early 70s.

The table below illustrates podium finishes in major races from 1964-1969

Pods1.jpg

Pods2.jpg


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Rich Vecchio





#2 A. J. Hoyt

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 12:08 PM

Thanks for the Ford GT summary and tip for the book. There are a few others that like the Ford GT story more than I do - I cautiously call them obsessed only because I wish I knew all that they did. While working briefly at Fiat Chrysler, I had the lifetime honor to share a cubicle next to a fellow whose dad was deeply involved in the Ford J car and Mk IV program and, man, did he have some unique stories! It only reinforced my love of the effort and the unique American corporate story it was.

 

I will digest this all later - I have an appointment to meet.

 

Again, thanks, and encouragement for anyone that has other stories of their own to share.


Sorry about the nerf. "Sorry? Sorry? There's no apologizing in slot car racing!" 

Besides, where would I even begin?   I should probably start with my wife ...

 

"I don't often get very many "fast laps" but I very often get many laps quickly."

 

The only thing I know about slot cars is if I had a good time when I leave the building! I can count the times I didn't on one hand two hands!

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#3 tlbrace

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 05:56 PM

Side story: Colin Chapman and Lotus bid/pitched a concept for Ford's Ferrari fighter, but lost the proposal to Lola/Broadley.

 

Lotus' bid was designed by Ron Hickman, who helped design the Lotus Type 14 Elite, the Elan, and the Elan Plus2.

 

His design for the Ford GT wound up evolving into the Europa.

 

Most notable accomplishment was that he designed the Black and Decker workmate.

 

europa proto.jpg


Todd Brace

#4 rvec

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 06:16 PM

Side story: Colin Chapman and Lotus bid/pitched a concept for Ford's Ferrari fighter, but lost the proposal to Lola/Broadley.
 
Lotus' bid was designed by Ron Hickman, who helped design the Lotus Type 14 Elite, the Elan, and the Elan Plus2.
 
His design for the Ford GT wound up evolving into the Europa.
 
Most notable accomplishment was that he designed the Black and Decker workmate.
 
attachicon.gifeuropa proto.jpg


Cool story. I was not aware of this

Rich Vecchio


#5 Larry Labounty

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Posted 27 December 2018 - 09:18 PM

Many thanks for more info on the GT40 program . Being a Dan Gurney fan I must have read the race report in Road & Track 8 to 10 times . A great era for road racing .



#6 n9949y

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 02:31 AM

Hey Rich, Wonderful exposition about the car and its $'s developments that firmly put Americans in international road racing. Thanks.

 

A few years ago I came across a decal set for the Alan Mann LTD 1969  GT-40 driven at Le Mans by Frank Guthrie and Malcolm

Gardner  at Le Mans. DNF.  1/24th slot car is from a Fujimi kit; note the bigger rear fenders to fit the wider tires.

1969 Mann GT-40.jpg

 

69 ford GT40 Alan Mann.jpg

 

Footnote to the Ford GT story: I've had the good fortune to yearly visit family in the U.K, and attend each year the Goodwood Revival, a three day September festival celebrating the "halcyon" eras of motor sports featuring all sorts of historical race events and classes up to 1965. The September 13-15 2013 festival featured the Whitsun Trophy race for Ford GT-40s, 28 of them -in 2 races Saturday and Sunday. I would never had imagined in all the years as a racing aficionado I would see Ford GT's racing, and so many of them!! As is the custom such cars are driven by  mostly professional drivers, as are in most of Goodwood's races, so from a standing start there was a fair amount of  fender banging and very hard, competitive racing with a couple of hard shunts.  What a spectacle! My son shot these photos with his Nikon DSLR.  Practice and qualifying Friday set the grid positions. Amazing- 28 Ford GT-40s in one place- on a starting grid! Talk about  lots and lots of $'s!

Ford GT Grid,Goodwood, 2013.JPG

 

Whitsun Trophy 2013 start.jpg

 

Witsun Trophy damage 3013.JPG

 

Whitsun Trophy 9-14-13 Ford GT's.jpg


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#7 rvec

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 09:12 AM

Todd,
Watching the GT40s at Goodwood must have been amazing. Thanks for the photos. I see the open top version in Linden green in the fifth row and another Linden green entry next to it. This unusual color was used by Ford Advanced Vehicle (FAV) cars early on. FAV was established by Ford soon after Ferrari walked on the deal and was the assembly facility for all MKI production located in Slough, England near the Heathrow Airport. FAV, was headed up by John Wyer and was the factory development team before Shelby entered the fray. After that FAV continued to produce the MK I GT40s and provided spare parts and it entered its own cars in events. After Ford began its J car program, it sold FAV to John Wyer and a partner. The company was renamed John Wyer Automotive (JWA). As we all know, JWA formed an alliance with Gulf Oil. (Wyer was a personal friend of Grady Davis, the President of Gulf. Davis actually purchase a GT40 for road use Wyer "borrowed the car", set it up as a race machine and entered the car at Daytona in 1967. Check out the image below. It was painted blue and orange. The paint scheme was the forerunner of the pale blue and orange colors we all know and love
 
Below is an image of a GT40 in Linden Green. BTW, the color was a Ford Anglia color in 64 (maybe 63)
 
 

GT40XX4.jpg

P1049_Daytona_67.jpg


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Rich Vecchio


#8 MG Brown

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Posted 28 December 2018 - 10:20 AM

For a somewhat fictionalized version of this saga:

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 9.17.53 AM.png

 

Screen Shot 2018-12-28 at 9.18.13 AM.png

 

Available in the Last Open Road Store.


That's thirty minutes away. I'll be there in ten.
 

 


#9 rvec

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 09:25 AM

Guys,
I just ran across this video on You tube about the history of the GT40 - 1967. It downplays the failures of the early prototypes but is a pretty good summary.  See the link:

 


Rich Vecchio


#10 n9949y

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Posted 30 December 2018 - 11:41 PM

Hi Rich,

At the September 9-11, 2012, Goodwood Festival, using my iphone shot the Gurney/Foyt Mk IV Le Mans

winner. One of the cars present for the Dan Gurney Tribute Parade. Note the white pavement lettering 

spelling out "Gurney." Goodwood Revival is  just an incredible class showing of cars, their history and

vintage racing.

 

Ford GT Mk IV resized, 2015.png

 

Goodwood, 2012, Gurney.jpg


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#11 rvec

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Posted 31 December 2018 - 12:03 AM

A fine looking machine

Rich Vecchio


#12 Mr. M

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Posted 31 December 2018 - 08:03 AM

I saw the Gurney/Foyt winning car at the Henry Ford museum about 1977-1980. It was as it came off the track, dirt and all, out in the open with theater like velvet "barricade" ropes on posts. The tires were low, the car resting on blocks. There was a silver tray underneath collecting drips. The ropes were close enough that you could look into the cockpit and see a note on the dash warning to not start the engine without checking the oil! There were other notes taped to the dash by the steering wheel, content I do not remember. The most striking thing was that here was this iconic car, sitting alone, looking kind of abandoned, but oozing history. And it looked like it was at 200 mph sitting still.


Chris McCarty

#13 n9949y

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Posted 31 December 2018 - 01:02 PM

Hello Chris. If feeble, old age memory still serves me I remember the car was brought over from the Ford Museum for a European tour commemorating the 45th anniversary of its Le Mans win


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#14 Murd

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 06:10 PM

Ford engineer Len Bailey deserves a mention in GT40 lore.  The Lola inspiration for the GT40 is well-known, but Bailey developed the chassis of Mk 1 for small-scale series production assembly from steel pressings instead of large folded sheets.   Something that might have had a bearing on Bailey's input into the chassis is that the Lola Mk6 GT used engine and gearbox as stressed members, while GT40 didn't.  Even so, Colotti gearboxes failed until replaced with ZF, while Ford's small block was perhaps fragile when the block was stressed?  It seemed that way in F5000.    Bailey was seconded to John Wyer Automotive to develop GT40 production competencies and competition improvements.  KarKraft developed the MkII's drivetrain using that base for 1966, but for 1967 Bailey developed the Mirage M1 waisted cabin with steeper windows to reduce drag and frontal area, while Ford went with a dedicated prototype construction for the Mk IV with the Mk II powertrain they'd developed before.  Apart from the rectangular headlamps, from the front there's an obvious relationship between the M1 and 1968's Ford F3L prototype, also known as P68, also Bailey's work, now seconded to Alan Mann Racing,   A small aside, there was a shop called Model Cars Australia in downtown Sydney in the 1980s, and for a while, it had an engine-less P68 in the streetfront window.  I confess to smearing finger and nose prints against that glass very often, because that car is sexy beautiful.  Bailey went on to work on Ford's GT70, a small mid-engined wedge sporty by Ford Germany envisaged as a potential production sports car under the same sort of relationship that Renault and Alpine had, that could be rallied.  The prototype did have a few outings, but again, was never followed through with.  Bailey also designed Ford's original C100, which complied with group 6 rules rather than Group C, but he left Ford after becoming disillusioned with them and with the project.


Murray Dickinson

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Posted 26 October 2020 - 06:22 PM

Side story: Colin Chapman and Lotus bid/pitched a concept for Ford's Ferrari fighter, but lost the proposal to Lola/Broadley.

 

Lotus' bid was designed by Ron Hickman, who helped design the Lotus Type 14 Elite, the Elan, and the Elan Plus2.

 

His design for the Ford GT wound up evolving into the Europa.

 

Most notable accomplishment was that he designed the Black and Decker workmate.

 

attachicon.gifeuropa proto.jpg

 

 

Sort of a side-side story to that is that the Lola GT's bodywork was designed by John Frayling, who worked with Hickman on the Lotus Elite.  Frayling was a clay sculptor at Ford, where Hickman also worked, while they both moonlighted developing the Elite for Chapman.  Hickman also created the backbone chassis idea that Lotus used for Elan, Europa, later Elite and Esprit, and that was widely copied for de Tomaso Mangusta, Toyota 2000GT, Bolwell Nagari (Australia), and others, but the Workmate made him rich.  Hickman spoke very highly of Frayling's skill.


Murray Dickinson





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