Ford GT40: From Prototype Testing to Le Mans Triumph

Bruce McLaren in an early Ford GT40 at the Nürburgring in 1964

Bruce McLaren in an early Ford GT40 at the Nürburgring in 1964

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I have just unearthed a part-forgotten 60-year-old Ford GT file covering the original development programme of 1963-64. The basics are familiar. America’s Ford Motor Company had been rebuffed in its 1962-63 attempt to take over Ferrari, so launched its own Le Mans 24 Hours-targeted programme in conjunction with Eric Broadley and his British Lola-Ford GT concept. The document grandly entitled Advanced Concepts Department – Special Vehicle Activity was compiled by engineer Roy Lunn and minuted the following:

“The design of the Ford GT race car is nearing completion and it is now entering the procurement stages… A major factor in the development was the installation of experimental components in the Lola car which determined the final design ingredients… all efforts are being directed towards completing the first car in an unpainted and untrimmed condition, ready for shipping to Dearborn, prior to the end of February, 1964.

“It has been arranged with Styling that at least the first prototype should be painted and trimmed by them at the end of February, 1964… It is aimed to ship the first vehicle to Sebring for testing at the end of the first week in March, 1964. Private testing is scheduled for the second week in March. It will be the results of this testing that will determine whether we enter the actual Sebring race…” – on March 21.