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You may know the 1968 Ford GT40 as the Le Mans champion winning every year between 1966 and 1969, and not to mention achieving a 1-2-3 finish in 1966 – no small feat. Its ingenious engineering and design has put it up there in the car hall of fame. The GT40 was produced between 1964 and 1969, but the car featured here was made in 1968 and was made with the Ford-Shelby chassis – it became the first car in history to win Le Mans more than once whilst using the same chassis.
The inception of the 1968 Ford GT40
Let’s go back in time a little to how the GT40 came about. Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari were perhaps one of the greatest rivalries in automotive history. In 1963, For Motor Company almost managed to buy Ferrari but after ten days of negotiations in April, Ferrari abruptly cut the deal. There are a number of things that could have contributed to this change of heart, anything from the strong ties between Ford and Shelby, to how Ford insisted on remaining in control. But 3 years later, the GT40 was born, and for the first time, put Ford up front and ahead of Ferrari.
The Mk I that won Le Mans in 1968 featured a 4.2 litre V8 engine and outlived the modified Mk II and IV after the FIA changed some of its rules that banned unlimited capacity engines. That meant the Mk I was the best option with its smaller engine – and the final results obviously agree.
The GT40 and general production
The original GT40 was produced for racing and it didn’t actually make it into general production until 2005 as the Ford GT. The first generation GT was designed by Camilo Pardo, J Mays and also included the input of Carroll Shelby. When released in 2004, the car looked a lot like its ancestor the GT40 but there were noticeable outward differences, including an additional 3 inches of height.
The 1968 Ford GT40 surpassed expectations and Ford couldn’t keep up with demand. Even Microsoft executive Jon Shirely bought himself one at a charity auction. But despite it’s popularity, only 4,038 were ever made.
It’s popularity today
Whether we’re looking at the original racing car, a replica or the first generation road car, the 1968 Ford GT40 has been an influential and sought after car. It’s body design is remarkably aerodynamic, crisp and clean.
The inside of the car remains very basic with traditional bucket seats, a simple dash and easy to reach controls – including the old school rocker switch for your indicators – you can’t quite see them in this picture, but they’re on the right side of the steering wheel.
Personally, I like the colors. Decked out in Gulf Oil racing colors and adorned with it’s sponsorships, this car stands out from the crowd. And the good news? A second generation GT is on the way and due for release next year. But with only 250 units being produced a year, this car will be incredibly hard to find and will feature a V6 twin-turbo 3.5 litre engine that can produce over 600 bhp. Wow – what a car.