The Ford GT40 is easily among the most iconic sports cars, a reputation that is well-earned thanks to its Le Mans win. While you cannot own a Ford GT40, it did lead to the production of the Ford GT, which is a production supercar based on the GT40. You may also get your hands on a replica if you are lucky. Most drivers, however, will have to settle for the modern GT, which pays homage to the GT40.
The Ford GT40 is known as a high-performance racecar. The Mk I through Mk III versions were based on the Lola Mk6, a British vehicle. Those models were built in England, which is also where they were designed. The GT40 Mk IV was designed as well as built in the United States. The full range of GT40 models ran on American-built engines that had been modified for racing.
Unsurprisingly, the “GT” in the name of the GT40 stands for Grand Touring. The “40” in the name refers to the auto’s 40-inch overall height, which the rules required. The early vehicles simply went by the name Ford GT. The switch to the name GT40 occurred to help prepare the auto for international endurance racing, specifically Le Mans.
The main claim to fame of the Ford GT40 is the number of times it won the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. This happened four times in a row. In 1966, the Mk II won with the Mk IV winning in 1967 and the Mk I winning the following two years. The 1966 win was even better thanks to a 1-2-3 finish. That 1966 win was also the first time an American automotive manufacturer had the overall Le Mans win. In fact, it was the first time since the 1921 French Grand Prix that an American automaker had won any significant European race. Furthermore, the 1967 winner, the Mk IV, was the only vehicle fully designed and built in the US to win the Le Mans overall.
Yet another unique fact about the GT40’s wins is that the same Ford/Shelby chassis was won in 1968 and 1969, the #P-1075. This was the first car to win the Le Mans multiple times with the same chassis. Despite its Le Mans wins, the original idea of the GT40 was for winning long-distance races of sports cars against Ferrari.
The original Ford V8 engine in the GT40 was a 4.7-liter one with 289 cubic inches. This later became 302 cubic inches or 4.9 liters. The engine featured custom designed cylinder heads from Gurney-Weslake.