The development of the GT40 is complicated to say the least. In 1962 Henry Ford II, Grandson of Henry Ford, decided the company should compete in motor racing. Following success at the US Indianapolis 500, Ford’s eye turned to Europe and Le Mans in particular, which had been dominated by Ferrari in previous years.
A change in Le Mans regulations in 1963 created a new international class for ‘Grand Touring’ prototype cars which did not set upper limits for engine power, but stipulated that competing cars should be capable of series production for road use.
Ford gave the go-ahead to design a prototype around its Indy 500, 4.2 litre V8 engine. Unlike Indy cars, it would be mid-engined which at the time was considered the correct position for GT competition.
Ford, which had unsuccessfully tried to purchase Ferrari, took over Lola and created Ford Advanced Vehicles to continue developing the new car.
The first GT40 was completed in 1964 (‘40’ refers to the Ford-specified height of the vehicle in inches).
Ford’s tenacity and financial investment finally paid off at Le Mans, fitting all three podium places in 1966 and outright wins again in ’67, ’68 and ’69.