Thursday, March 2, 2017

The Ford GT40 - A History In Competition

WESTLAND, Mich.,––The Ford GT40 is one of the world's greatest super cars, but many may not understand that its origins lie in competition, specifically against Ferrari. In honor of "throwback thursday" and the spring-like weather that's making us yearn for the open road, we're going to cover the Ford GT40's rich history. So, start your engines and let's begin!

The Ford GT40 - A History In Competition

In 1960, Henry Ford II was determined to have a Ford car compete in the prestigious Le Mans race where experienced racing giants had stood victorious. During this time, Enzo Ferrari had become interested in selling his company. Henry Ford II saw the opportunity to take a lead in the racing world, specifically in the 24 Hour Le Mans race, with Ferrari's experience as a platform.

Henry Ford II went about seizing the opportunity to buy Ferrari spending massive amounts of money to audit Ferrari's assets and in legal expenses. In 1963, Ford and his large team of legal assistants and executives flew to Italy to sign and finalize the sale. Enzo Ferrari and his assistant were not only the only two from the Ferrari empire to be there, but they were late to the meeting as well. Upon reading Ford Motor Company's documents in silence, Enzo pointed out a specific part of the text that specified Ford would also be taking the racing portion of Ferrari.

It was then Enzo Ferrari said a terrible "no", refused the sale, and lit a 5-alarm fire under Henry Ford II. After all the honest work Ford went through to obtain Ferrari and its racing technologies, the deal fell completely flat in an instant, rightfully enraging Ford. This new rivalry was said to have changed racing forever.

Ford set out as an underdog to beat the then 4-time Le Mans victor, Ferrari, and develop their own super car. 

Ford started by negotiating with Lola Cars, which ended up with a two-year collaboration and two Mk6 chassis sale agreement. The original MK1 and GT40 were prepared at the Ford Advanced Vehicles in the UK, where a team of various expertise in racing culminated. Even with Ford pouring resources and innovation into racing development, the first six Ford GT40 versions went to the 1964 Le Mans and failed completely; none of the first six versions even made it across the finish line. They went again to the 1965 Le Mans race and yet again had no cars make it across the finish line.

In 1966, all three Ford GT40's that had entered the race swept the top of the competition and took home 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place at Le Mans. Ford then took first place at Le Mans in 1967, 1968, and 1969 with their continually improved GT40 cars. After many years of success, Ford stopped production of the GT in 2006. In 2016 Ford announced the Ford GT would be making a comeback and production began. See the inspiring video below and don't forget your tissues.

This blog was directly inspired by James May's emotionally powered and informative segment in the sixth episode of the premier Grand Tour show, available on Amazon Prime. We're so excited to see the Ford GT compete in this year's Le Mans race happening June 17th & 18th. The next time you can see the Ford GT on the track will be March 15th-18th at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Florida. You can see the full 2017 Ford GT racing schedule online!

North Brothers Ford is located at 33300 Ford Rd Westland, MI 48185 and proudly serves as one of the premier dealerships in Metro Detroit, and is committed to exceptional customer service! Stop by or give us a call at 888-806-7163, our knowledgeable and helpful sales team will be more than happy to assist you!

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