Ford GT40

1969

  • At the dawn of the sixties, Ford set out to take on the Le Mans 24 hours with the aim of renewing their name. Their program was “Total performance”, the most ambitious of any constructor.
  • Henry Ford was right to travel to Le Mans in 1966. His 7 liter V8 engine MKIIs would take the first three places. The GT40 entered into legend.
  • Through perseverance, Ford succeeded in imposing its name and would achieve four consecutive victories between 1966 and 1969.

In the mid sixties, the Mustang was Ford's best-seller, and a true symbol of the American automobile of the latter half of the 20th century. It was in itself the incarnation of the baby-boomer generation and their search for freedom and speed.

Lee Iacocca became the CEO of Ford in 1960 At only forty years of age, he began by giving himself the task of launching a new model aimed at the younger generation and their hunger for novelty. Leaving nothing to chance, market research was carried out to define the real needs of potential buyers, and the program got its go-ahead in 1962.

The design teams started work on the first «Mustang 1» prototype that would be presented at the Watkins Glen Grand Prix in October 1962, where it would be driven by Dan Gurney and hit a speed of 120 mph. This was, in effect, a two seater, aluminum-shelled roadster with a rear mounted V4 engine, the diametric opposite of the basic concept, and more suitable as a show-car. In 1963 a second prototype was unveiled, giving a clearer idea of what the eventual production model would be like. The general design of the body work had already been set out by Joe Oros and his design team. The engine was a valiant V8 289 ci HP with 271 hp, mounted in the classic forward longitudinal position. The design brief was thus respected since it could now seat four persons.

A few months later, on March 9 1964, the first Ford Mustang would roll off the production line. A lot of elements of the Ford Falcon had been borrowed, thus reducing production costs and allowing a more competitive retail price. But the other key to its success was the number of options that allowed the buyer to personalize their automobile to an almost infinite extent. Numerous different engines were available, from the simple 101 hp in-line 6 cylinder to the V8 289 ci 271 horse power HP.

To be continued...