It's no secret that the Ford GT40 (Mk1 specifically) is my favourite car of all time. The first time I saw footage of the car in motion (courtesy of one of Mr Clarkson's old VHS') felt like watching an old action hero in their prime. Turns out that 10 year old me had great taste!
The story of how the GT40 came to be is an interesting one. The short version is that during the early 60's, the Ford Motor Company were set to buy Ferrari. As the negotiations started to draw to a close, Ford outlined that one of the terms of the sale was that Enzo Ferrari (Who would have been left in charge of Ferrari's racing endeavours) was NOT allowed to enter his cars in the upcoming Indy 500. Ford wanted an American victory at Indy, and the Ferrari's proved to be a significant threat. This enraged Enzo, who pulled the plug on the deal despite Ford already spending millions to arrange the sale. This didn't please Henry Ford II, who instructed his engineers to build a car that would beat Ferrari at their own game.. The GT40 was born and the rest is history.
Le Mans has changed a great deal since the GT40's last victory. To me, it would have been wrong to drive today's iteration, mainly because keeping your foot planted and watching the speedo climb down the mammoth Mulsanne straight is quintessential to the GT40 experience. Luckily I was able to find a period correct version of the circuit, meaning that it was time to live out a dream... (albeit virtually)
The first thing that jumped out at me when driving was the sheer acceleration. Here's a 50 year old car that goes from 0-60mph in under 4 seconds and then goes on to touch 200mph. It wasn't long however before the car's age caught up with me. Braking felt like negotiation with a frustrated toddler - It would kind of listen, but ultimately you still end up losing out. The same could be said about the suspension, which was slow to react and full of roll. Therein however lies the charm of driving a machine like this - you have to adapt to to a completely different style of driving. Once I had got comfortable with the car, I found myself throwing it into 4 wheel drifts and really pushing the limited performance of the brakes.
Usually I would end off by saying something like "driving this car in real life is not a possibility". However due to a very generous gift from a friend, I have been given the opportunity to drive a replica of this car in reality! Will it match up to the sim version? Stick around to find out!