Motorsport Stories: Ford GT40, Hatred-fuelled victory
The well known story of a man who refused to take the L and created an icon
Everybody knows this story. If you're thinking about writing a book about motoring, and if you decide to title it "Automotive Tales", this would definitely be the first chapter. Let's cut to the quick. The GT40 was the result of Henry (II) Ford's anger. Ford was livid with rage because Ferrari had bailed out on him at the last minute and rather than taking the L, he decided to build a car that would hit Ferrari where it hurts, on the track. It did just that. Crushed it, actually.
Ford GT 40 in Monaco
In 1963, Henry Ford II heard the news that Ferrari was thinking about selling and so he made his move. Deals had been made, negotiations had taken place and everything was set but Enzo decided to cut the deal at the last minute. Henry Ford, enraged, went straight to his engineers and told them to build a car that would beat Ferrari at Le Mans. Money no object. Whatever it took. It worked. The GT40 won Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.
Only 107 were made and few people could buy it. Quite apart from anything else the GT40 was called "40" because it was only 40 inches tall, so that ruled out tall people. It was also expensive and extreme. The original GT40 had a Ford 4,7 litre V8 "Windsor" engine, coupled with a 4-speed manual and it was, in technical terms, completely "bonkers". Even by today's standards. This was a GAME CHANGER because it changed the history of car racing. Ford took his furious rage and turned it into a winning formula, outgunning his most fearsome rival.