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Thursday, July 11, 2024

Ford's F3L/P68: Alan Mann's Ambitious Yet Unlucky 1960s Racer

Less Fortunate Speedy Beast - The 24 Hours of Le Mans race holds a prominent place in automotive history, with a pivotal moment occurring in 1966. This year marked the first time cars manufactured by the Ford Motor Company triumphed on the championship podium, disrupting the dominance of the Italian Prancing Horses with three Ford GT40 cars. This victory not only cemented Ford's status in the racing world but also fueled the company's ambition to develop more competitive racing cars, including models that bore a striking resemblance to their rivals Ferrari 330 P3/4.
This is the Ford P68, also known as the Ford 3L GT or F3L, often regarded as one of the most visually appealing racing cars ever crafted by Ford during the 1960s. (Picture from: Alan Mann Racing)
One such creation was the Ford P68, also known as the Ford 3L GT or F3L. Introduced in March 1968, the P68 was a prototype racing car engineered by Len Bailey. This innovative car was constructed at Alan Mann Racing in Weybridge, Surrey, England, with financial backing from Ford Europe. Despite its promising design, the F3L faced numerous challenges that ultimately limited its success on the racing circuit.
The shapely Ford/Castrol 3 Litre Sports, also known as the P68 prototype, features a non-homologated bonnet line provided by the curvaceous GTX model.. (Picture from: Pedal2TheMetal)
The Ford 3L prototype made its debut at the BOAC 500 race at Brands Hatch, Kent. Although it demonstrated impressive speed capabilities, the F3L was criticized for its instability at high speeds. Mechanical and electronic failures plagued the car, preventing it from completing any race it entered. These issues highlighted the difficulties in balancing speed with reliability in high-performance racing cars.
The Ford P68, also known as the Ford 3L GT or F3L prototype made its debut at the BOAC 500 race at Brands Hatch, Kent. (Picture from: Pedal2TheMetal)
Designed to meet Group 6 regulations, the F3L featured a 2-seater layout without a roof, which led to several design flaws. The resulting narrow roof and driver space, combined with limited rear visibility, posed significant challenges. Bailey's extreme design aimed to achieve optimal aerodynamics, resulting in a low, long, and sinuous form. With a 3000cc engine, the P68 was intended to reach top speeds of 350 km/h, surpassing even the Formula One cars of its era.
Despite demonstrating impressive speed capabilities, the Ford P68/F3L faced criticism for its instability at high speeds and was plagued by mechanical and electronic failures, hindering its ability to finish any race it entered. (Picture from: Pedal2TheMetal)
However, the pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency came at the cost of driver comfort. The cramped and uncomfortable driver's cabin was a significant drawback. To address some of the aerodynamic issues, Bailey added a vortex-generating tail scoop. While this modification improved aerodynamics, it was deemed insufficient, as the front wheels of the F3L remained unstable at high speeds. This instability led renowned drivers John Surtees and Jack Brabham to refuse to drive the F3L, citing safety concerns.
The Ford P68/F3L's instability prompted renowned drivers John Surtees and Jack Brabham to decline driving it due to safety concerns. (Picture from: Silodrome)
Ultimately, the design flaws and persistent problems led to the F3L's relegation to the Ford Museum. Today, it makes occasional appearances at special events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Ford Fest, serving as a reminder of its ambitious origins and the challenges faced in the quest for racing supremacy. | AquI49zoaAo |
Despite its shortcomings, the F3L remains a testament to Ford's innovative spirit and determination to push the boundaries of automotive engineering. The unique design of the Ford P68 also inspired the Fi GTP-13 Supersports custom car, created by Austrian father and son Rudolf and Alexander Fillafer. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | ALAN MANN RACING | PEDAL2THEMETAL | SILODROME ]
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