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Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Ford GT40's story to be the Italian's Prancing Horse killer

For those of you who have been watched a film titled 'Ford v Ferrari' is premired last year (November 2019) and seems to be familiar with the Ford GT40, it is the first American car able to beat Ferrari in the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance racing arena. Before the Ford GT40 got the nickname 'Ferrari Killer,' it turns out that the story of the mighty car's birth was also fun to be discussed.
Part of Ford's 1966 Le Mans podium, 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #2. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/2UoxlHE)
The story begins in the early 1960s, when CEO of Ford Motor Company at that time, Henry Ford II felt curious about whether his company could compete in the world of international motorsport. Then Henry Ford II declared his ambition of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance racing championship as a first step, because he considered the race was the most competitive racing event at the time.
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #1. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3pvmfyU)
As we know, in the 1960s, the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race was always dominated by European car brands such as Ferrari, Porsche and Alfa Romeo. And among these brands the most dominating at that time was Ferrari, so the boss of the American manufacturer was interested in buying those prancing horse logoed auto manufacturer in the hope that his racing program would be successful.
Part of Ford's 1966 Le Mans podium, 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #5. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/32I0oua)
It seems that Henry Ford II is not unrequited, it turns out that Enzo Ferrari was also attracted by the offer from his American colleague, and then both of them decided to hold a meeting to discuss the takeover of the Italian company by the Ford Motor Company. But unfortunately the meeting did not go well and ended in failure, because Enzo Ferrari firmly rejected one of the points in the contract which stated that Ferrari also had to hand over its racing division to the American manufacturer.
Shortly after, Enzo Ferrari and his staff immediately left the meeting room, even though Henry Ford II had flown all the way to Italy and prepared millions of dollars for the deal. Of course, Henry Ford II was very upset and disappointed, upon his arrival America, he immediately gathered his staff in a room and emphatically conveyed his main goal at that time is participated the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance racing event only to beat Ferrari!

To achieve its main goal, the American car manufacturer then estabilished its European headquarter in London under the name of  Ford Advanced Vehicles, and one of the reason for that to be closer to its rival based in Maranello, Italy. Finally in 1964, the racing car that was predicted to beat Ferrari was finished to be built and introduced under the name of the Ford GT40.
Interior view of 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #1. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3pvmfyU)
The first generation Ford GT40 is equipped with a 4,700 cc V8 engine, which is similar to that used in the Lola GT and Lotus 29 racing cars, but has been modified to give it a better performance. In 1964, the Ford GT40 finally able to meet its rival Ferrari 275P directly at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ford GT40 MK II designed by Carroll Shelby. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3pvmfyU)
Apparently those days were not the Henry Ford II and his team's lucky days, because none of the three of Ford GT40 units that entered the race arena able to complete the race and touch the finish line. On the other hand, Ferrari managed to be the winner of those race event, again Henry Ford II's team was beaten by the Italian's prancing horse team. For a momment, the Ford GT40 starting to be considered and touted as a 'failed' project by the public.
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #2. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/35ts3AM)
Once again they returned to America sadly, and upon arrival at the house Henry Ford II looked for the right way to solve this problem, and soon he decided to team up with Caroll Shelby who is well known for his performance in Daytona endurance racing. It wasn't long after Caroll Shelby worked on the Ford racing team and found many problems within the first generation Ford GT40, such as in the engine, aerodynamics, gearbox, and many more. After being modified by Shelby, finally the latest generation of Ford GT40 was born and known as the Ford GT40 MK II.
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #1. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3pvmfyU)
Now, the Caroll Shelby-made Ford GT40 is uses a V8 engine which previously had 350 hp, after being upgraded to 450 hp. As a warming up as well as the preparation before entering the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Ford GT40 competed in the Daytona 2000 endurance race held in February 1965. From this event, a glimmer of hope began to emerge, after it was driven hundreds of kilometers non-stop, the Ford GT40 managed to become the winner of the prototype class.
1966 Ford GT40 Mk II with its racing livery #5. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/32I0oua)
In the following year, the Ford GT40, piloted by Ken Miles and Bruce McLaren, also won other endurance races such as the 24 Hours of Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring. But what has been waiting, and of course, is the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1966 is a means of proving that the Ford GT40 is no longer 'fragile' anymore.
The historical moment when the Ford team finished 1-2-3 with three (#2, #1 and #5) of its GT40 racing cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1966. (Picture from: https://bit.ly/3lyuIib)
At the endurance race event of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966, three Ford GT40 units were seen leading the race in the early rounds, followed by the Ferrari 330 behind them. But when the race entered the night, the Ferrari 330 racing car could overtake the three Ford GT40 units in front of it and lead the race until the next day. And while the Ferrari 330 was leading the course of the race suddenly had crashed due to a tire burst and made the day a lucky day for the Ford team.

Immediately the three Ford GT40 units returned to lead the race and were able to maintain the 1-2-3 position until the finish flag was raised. This achievement proves that all the efforts of the board of directors of the American manufacturer, especially Henry Ford II and his racing team, to be able to build a racing car that can beat the Italian prancing horse Ferrari were not in vain and ultimately bear sweet results, so that the 'Ferrari Killer' title deserves to be carried by the Ford GT40.
Amazingly, after the Ford GT40's victory in 1966, the Italian's prancing horse never won again in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In contrast to Ford, who managed to become the defending champion at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 to 1969 together with its Ford GT40 racing cars.

Although initially the Ford GT40 was a prototype car specifically made for racing purposes, finally a new road-legal car called the Ford GT was born in 2005 which is also a directly-breed of the Ford GT40. The advantages of this new road-legal car is equipped with a V8 supercharged engine. So that the Ford GT is claimed to be had nice performance numbers of 0-100 kph acceleration in under 3.8 seconds, and the top speed can reach a number of 328 kph! *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | SILODROME]
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