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OT/MISC The Feud that Created America's Greatest Race Car
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  1. #1
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    The Feud that Created America's Greatest Race Car

    Pix and more at link

    It all started with a business deal gone bad. In 1963, Henry Ford II, "the Deuce," decided he wanted Ford Motor Company to go racing. The only problem: Ford didn't have a sports car in its portfolio.

    The quickest way to acquire a sports car, the Deuce thought, was to buy Ferrari, then a race car company that only sold street-legal machines to fund its track exploits.

    Ford sent an envoy to Modena, Italy, to hash out a deal with Enzo Ferrari. The Americans offered $10 million, but as the negotiations neared their conclusion, Ferrari balked at a clause in the contract that said Ford would control the budget (and thus, the decisions) for his race team. Ferrari, known otherwise as “Il Commendatore,” couldn’t stomach the surrender of autonomy, so he bailed, sending Henry Ford II a message the Deuce didn’t often hear: There was something his money couldn’t buy.

    In lieu of the sale, Ford decided to direct his company’s cash and engineering toward petty revenge. He decreed Ford would start its own race team, with the singular goal of beating Ferrari in the world’s most prestigious race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
    “These two guys were larger than life,” says A.J. Baime, author of Go Like Hell: Ford, Ferrari, and Their Battle for Speed and Glory at Le Mans. “Here you have arguably the most famous and powerful CEO in America, Henry Ford II, up against Enzo Ferrari—the most narcissistic man to walk the earth, but deservedly so, because he was a genius. You couldn’t write it better.”

    The clash of these titanic egos would propel Ford to design America’s greatest race car: the GT40. An unstable engineering mashup of California hot-rod ethos and high-speed NASCAR expertise, the GT40 failed to finish Le Mans in 1964 and 1965, but bold testing innovations and a never-before-seen brake strategy had them primed for 1966. Weeks before the start at Le Mans, Henry Ford II handed race program boss Leo Beebe a handwritten note: “You better win.”

    The 1966 GT40 Mark II is more comfortable than you might expect. Designed for long-distance driving, the seat is soft and ventilated. Forward visibility is excellent. Somehow there’s plenty of interior room, considering the tiny exterior dimensions. If Le Mans circa 1966 amounted to a frantic 3,000-mile road trip, this seems like the car you’d want to do it in. But the moment you fire up the mid-mounted 427-cubic-inch V-8, you’re reminded this is a race car, capable of modern race-car speed—more than 200 mph—in 1960s analog form. No power steering. No power brakes. No electronic safety systems. A hundred miles per hour in third gear feels like you’re in a sidecar strapped to the Space Shuttle and you’re not even halfway to top speed. The guys who ran these things down the Mulsanne Straight at 210 mph, at night, on 1966-spec tires, after driving for four hours straight, must’ve been brave. Or crazy. Or a heady mixture of both.

    This car, a Superformance GT40 Mark II, is a “continuation car,” a street-legal re-creation of the winning 1966 Le Mans car. In fact, this particular GT40 Mk II was used in the new film Ford v. Ferrari, based on the legendary story. Watch the trailer, in which Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby takes Henry Ford II for a hell ride. This is that car. It’s magnificent. And like both the 2005–2006 Ford GT and the current GT model released in 2017, the Superformance owes its existence to that long-ago battle of egos between two stubborn industrialists. The 1966 GT40 Mk II feels like such a fully realized race machine, it’s hard to believe it started out as a half-baked effort that was not only uncompetitive, but dangerous.

    It might seem like a foregone conclusion that Ford, an international car-building colossus at the height of its powers in the 1960s, could crush a small independent company like Ferrari on the race track, but that was far from a given. As countless car companies have learned, money doesn’t directly translate to victory.

    “They spent a lot of money, but that was no guarantee you’d win a race,” says Preston Lerner, author of Ford GT: How Ford Silenced the Critics, Humbled Ferrari and Conquered Le Mans. “[Ford] also had to bring in the right people to win. They had to have the mechanics, the race organization people, the drivers. It could’ve been a glorious failure.”

    And in 1964 and 1965, it was. Ford’s new race car was fast, but they couldn’t figure out how to make it last for 24 hours. Gearboxes broke. Head gaskets blew. The aerodynamics were a mess, too, with cars developing so much lift they’d see wheelspin at 200 mph. After two aerodynamically unstable GT40s crashed during testing in 1964, one test driver, Roy Salvadori, quit. “I opted out of that program to save my life,” he said.

    And the brakes were a constant problem. Ford engineers calculated that when a driver hit the brakes at the end of Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight, the front brake rotors would spike to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit within just a few seconds, causing the rotor to fail. Trying to slow a 3,000-pound car from 210 mph, every three-and-a-half minutes, for 24 hours was a new problem in racing. “Dan Gurney told me that everything he did driving that car was about saving the brakes,” Lerner says. “At the end of the Mulsanne, he’d back off well before the brake zone and coast down so he wasn’t scrubbing 180 mph all at once.” Carroll Shelby told Baime: “We won [Le Mans] on brakes.”

    That’s because Phil Remington, an engineer on the Ford team, devised a quick-change brake system that allowed the mechanics to swap in new pads and rotors during a driver change, meaning drivers didn’t have to worry about making the brakes last beyond their stint. Other teams cried foul about the GT40’s pit-stop advantage, to no avail. “They complained that it was breaking the rules,” says Baime. “But there were no rules.” And that wasn’t the only area where Ford was pushing boundaries.

    To ensure their engines could survive Le Mans, Ford ran them on a dynamometer operated by a program that simulated performance and durability. They logged the RPM and shift points of a lap around Le Mans, and then had computer-controlled servo actuators “drive” a test engine in exactly the same way in a lab, even simulating pit stops with periodic shutdowns. The engineers would run an engine until it exploded, examine what went wrong, and fix the next iteration. Eventually, when the engineers could make a 427-cubic-inch V-8 last for almost two back-to-back Le Mans simulations, they decided their design was hearty enough.


    And in 1966, it actually was, with Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon’s #2 car leading a dramatic 1-2-3 Ford victory at Le Mans. The next year, Ford returned to France and won again. With repeat wins in hand and the Deuce’s ego assuaged, they withdrew official Le Mans factory support after the 1967 race—but still won in ’68 and ’69, with privately owned GT40s claiming victory each year.

    Over the span of a few years, Ford had unveiled the Mustang, won at Le Mans, and vanquished its fuddy-​duddy image. Some of the GT40’s engineering lessons might have translated to Ford’s street cars, particularly the computer-driven durability testing, but Ford considered the Le Mans program a marketing exercise rather than a quest for innovation.

    Manufacturers are still willing to spend big on internal race programs. During Audi's recent reign of dominance at Le Mans, the company spent about $250 million per year on its race team, and Ferrari reportedly spends $500 million each year on its Formula One program. It's hard to say if those massive budgets translate to car sales, but most Audi customers probably haven’t heard of the R18 e-tron quattro, the last Audi to win Le Mans. Racing is still integral to brands like Ferrari, but mainstream companies like Audi and Toyota struggle to justify the high price tag.
    It’s estimated Ford spent $25 million or more on their way to victory at Le Mans. They even burned $1 million in 1968 before withdrawing financial support from the race program. The GT40 itself was obsolete by 1970 (Ford hasn’t had an overall victory at Le Mans since 1969), but the car’s story continued.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/car...8271963&src=nl
    A socialist will trample over one hundred poor people just for the chance to throw a rock at a rich man.

  2. #2
    Thanks for posting that.
    GT-40. A dream car, in any iteration. That and an AC Shelby Cobra. The sexiest cars known to man


    Southside

  3. #3
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    I would take a 427 Cobra over a GT-40...
    A socialist will trample over one hundred poor people just for the chance to throw a rock at a rich man.

  4. #4
    Enzo Ferarri learned his trade from his stint as Formula 1 manager of Alfa Romeo's F1 team in the 1930s. Ford would have had more success if they had picked up Vittorio Jano , or better yet Giuseppe Busso (the designer of Alfa's 2,5 litre V6 engine-the best V-6 performance engine ever built). Ferrari went into receivership in 1969 and got bought out by Fiat-perhaps he should have reconsidered Ford's offer. The Ferrari Dino ended up with a Fiat designed engine, wonder how Enzo felt about that.

    The GT-40 is a favorite of mine. Beautiful car, incredible performance and American ingenuity throughout. It's as gorgeous as a Alfa 33 stradale, but oh so much faster. 7.4 litres (427) versus 2 litres; but both look like poetry and a supermodel in motion.

    I'd love a GT-40, and an AC Ace roadster with a 289..... while we're at it let's toss in a Lancia Flaminia and a Lotus Elan drop head-with Emma Peel from the Avengers at the wheel. Mmmmmm.............

  5. #5
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    I was a teenager in high school during the reign of the Ford GT-40 and watched the races....

    What a race car....

    Mother and I were in Dallas on Lemon Avenue when at a stop light, a GT-40 pulled up next to us and you could hear it growl sitting at the light.... I gave a thumbs up to the guy driving and when he took off, the tires smoked and he disappeared down Lemon Avenue.... Made this teenager's day, week and month.... Still fond memories of the Ford GT-40....

    Texican....

  6. #6

  7. #7
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    Had some experience with GT-40's in the earlier 80's since Dick Lepla owned a pair and he would occasionally get a hair crosswise and come down to Nelson Ledges and run them.


    OH.

    MY.

    GAWD!!!!!!


    nuf said.

  8. #8
    MFGA great stuff

  9. #9
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    The GT40, an automotive legend, and rightly so!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Countrybumpkin View Post
    I would take a 427 Cobra over a GT-40...
    mmmmmmm.... It becomes abundantly clear that all yer taste is centered in your left earlobe.

  11. #11
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    Was at a site today where the landowner had several Mustang GT this-n-thats from the 60s onward.

    One Ford concept truck and an older GTO

    Every one of them was show quality.

    Mustangs don't trip my trigger, but they were kinda cool.
    Proud Infidel...............and Cracker

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  12. #12
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    Academy Award-winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale star in FORD v FERRARI, based on the remarkable true story of the visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby (Damon) and the fearless British-born driver Ken Miles (Bale), who together battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build a revolutionary race car for Ford Motor Company and take on the dominating race cars of Enzo Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France in 1966.


    Runtime 2;24

    FORD v FERRARI | Official Trailer [HD] | 20th Century FOX



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zyYgDtY2AMY
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  13. #13
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    James May from Top Gear/Grand Tour did a really nice retrospective of the GT40 and went over most of that history. Its a really nice segment, it's on Youtube.
    E Deploribus Unum

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  14. #14
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    Sorry, ND, the GT40 just never did anything for me...the 427 Cobra, on the other hand, was sex with 4 tires for me!
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  15. #15
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    "I tremble for my nation when I realize that God is just."- Thomas Jefferson
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    The ability to learn is a skill;
    The willingness to learn is a choice.
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  16. #16
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    WHY


    ARE



    THERE




    NO



    PICTURES¡!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????

  17. #17
    A friend of mine has a Ford GT, or did, when we crossed paths a bit more often. I was admiring it and he asked me if I wanted to take it for a spin....

    I blew it, I should of, but......I know me, and I could of found myself in deep crap in a heart beat knowing me, knowing that cars performance.

    In hindsight, I wish I would of.

  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by Texican View Post
    I was a teenager in high school during the reign of the Ford GT-40 and watched the races....

    What a race car....

    Mother and I were in Dallas on Lemon Avenue when at a stop light, a GT-40 pulled up next to us and you could hear it growl sitting at the light.... I gave a thumbs up to the guy driving and when he took off, the tires smoked and he disappeared down Lemon Avenue.... Made this teenager's day, week and month.... Still fond memories of the Ford GT-40....

    Texican....
    When I was a teenager, a local guy had a custom shop, did a lot of custom upholstery work, paint, body and other stuff. Some said he had inherited a ton of money. Anyway, he owned a Shelby Cobra, kept it parked in his showroom. He would let us kids go in and walk around it, and drool. Still remember it was mint green. Beautiful. Occasionally would see him driving it around town ( only on very clear & dry days.

    One year, around 69 I think, Ashland Oil, whose HQ was there, blocked off an entire city block street, and showed a display of race cars, boats, etc. They had a GT 40 there. That was always my favorite car. If I could have any car, that would be my pick.

    In my teenage years, we had a local surgeon that loved exotic cars. We would always go to the local hospital, and walk through the parking lot for the Doctors, and drool at his cars. He always had Ferarris, XKE's, Porsche, etc. He also had an Avanti. Behind his mansion, he had a 8 car garage for his "toys".

    Ol Doc had exquisite taste in vehicles !!!
    "No one ever rescues an old dog. They lay in a cage until they die. PLEASE save one. None of us wants to die cold and alone... --Dennis Olson "

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  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Countrybumpkin View Post
    I would take a 427 Cobra over a GT-40...
    Me too!

  20. #20
    I would love to line up a 426 Hemi and a 429 Cobra Jet up, old school muscle, and see which was faster top end, then bottom end. I don't care what body they are sitting in.
    For grins and giggles, you could add an AMC 401 into the race too.

  21. I purchased replica Shelby Cobra. Didn't have a 427 just a 351, plenty of power for the weight. State Farm charged me plenty the first year I had it. Next year it dropped likely because I didn't kill myself. Had terrible oversteer if you accelerate during cornering. Nothing compares to leaving a stop light at 1/4 throttle and leaving all behind. Never got a ticket but never had the balls to take it over 90mph.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by desertvet2 View Post
    WHY


    ARE



    THERE




    NO



    PICTURES¡!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!??????
    +100000000000000000000000
    ****************************************
    SnowSquaw
    WHO IS Q? #QANON #WWG1WGA .... Let's do this.

  23. #23
    Saw in the news a day or so ago that a GT went for 1.5 million. Or at least I think it was a GT.

    ETA: Aaa here it is: if you want a pic go to link - https://www.motorauthority.com/news/...54m-at-auction

    A 2017 Ford GT was sold at a Barrett-Jackson auction held last week in Las Vegas, with the final sale price coming in at a staggering $1.54 million, or a little more than three times the sticker price of the Ford supercar.

    Ford racing driver Joey Hand, who scored a class win at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans in a GT, was present at the sale and signed the car afterwards.

    This wasn't a charity sale, though. It was a private auction, with the owner contractually free to sell the car since he or she took delivery more than 24 months ago, which was how long owners had to promise to keep their cars in order to get one from Ford.

    This particular GT has racked up just 30 miles on its odometer, so despite Ford's hype about only true enthusiasts getting their hands on the GT, it's clear the speculators got them too.

    The low mileage likely helped with the high bid. Also in the car's favor is the fact it is one of the '66 Heritage Edition models offered for 2017. The black paint with white stripes honors the GT40 that was driven to overall victory at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.

    More GTs should be coming up for sale but don't go looking for used-car value. The GT was expensive when new, and it looks like it’s even more so used.
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  24. #24
    Drool time!


    maxresdefault.jpg
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  25. #25
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    There's a story about a Cobra that goes like this: Guy walks into a dealership and says he wants to buy a Cobra. Salesman tells him he can get either a 427 or a 289. Guy wants to go for a test ride, so they head out and after a few hard accelerations that scared the crap out of the potential buyer, they get back to the dealership and the guy says, "I'll take the 289," and the salesman says, "That was the 289."

  26. #26
    LOVE the 289 Cobras. The way the AC Aces were built, the 289 sat back in the frame a bit, like the 6 cylinder Rudspeed AC Aces. The handling on a 289 is very good, put gumball tires on it and you could throw it against the wall and it would stick. The 427 is a fantastic motor, love the HP but it made the car nose heavy. Oversteer writ large........

    For straight line grunt give me a 427. For the twisty bits give me a 289 powered one.

    Think the 427 worked better in the AC Frua-has a little bit longer wheelbase and full independent suspension front and rear.

    But since I'm dreaming of cars I'll never be able to afford, how about an Iso Grifo? Same concept but Italian bodies and Chevy engines. The Can Am is one sexy looking car!

  27. #27
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    Best i could do growing up in the early 70's was a 1964 Jaguar XKE 2 seat coupe, a 1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, a 1958 MGA with a Chevy 283, and a 1967 Pontiac GTO Convertible. I would have loved to have had a Shelby Cobra, but way out of my league. I remember going past the Ford Dealership with 3 427 Cobras out front...price was $5,000 (your choice). I owned a crapload of other Sports cars besides those but they were all underpowered Austin Healeys, Triumps and MG's. And no, I never owned more than 2-3 cars at a time, couldn't afford too.

  28. #28
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    It's neat to see this post. I've been watching YouTube videos about this all week. It also sparked an interest in Formula 1 racing. Hopefully the Typhoon in Japan doesn't cancel the race this weekend.

  29. #29
    I do not remember what year, but when I was a teenager, ABC I think, on their " Wide World of Sports " did a 24 hour broadcast of LeMans. I got pizza, and stayed up late, fell asleep on the couch, the next day woke up and watched the rest. They had cameras set up all around. It was awesome !
    "No one ever rescues an old dog. They lay in a cage until they die. PLEASE save one. None of us wants to die cold and alone... --Dennis Olson "

    Si vis pacem, para bellum

  30. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry799 View Post
    Best i could do growing up in the early 70's was a 1964 Jaguar XKE 2 seat coupe, a 1954 Jaguar XK120 Roadster, a 1958 MGA with a Chevy 283, and a 1967 Pontiac GTO Convertible. I would have loved to have had a Shelby Cobra, but way out of my league. I remember going past the Ford Dealership with 3 427 Cobras out front...price was $5,000 (your choice). I owned a crapload of other Sports cars besides those but they were all underpowered Austin Healeys, Triumps and MG's. And no, I never owned more than 2-3 cars at a time, couldn't afford too.
    You did pretty good Jerry799. My best was a 1970 Plymouth Cuda. I loved that car !
    "No one ever rescues an old dog. They lay in a cage until they die. PLEASE save one. None of us wants to die cold and alone... --Dennis Olson "

    Si vis pacem, para bellum

  31. #31
    Quote Originally Posted by NoDandy View Post
    I do not remember what year, but when I was a teenager, ABC I think, on their " Wide World of Sports " did a 24 hour broadcast of LeMans. I got pizza, and stayed up late, fell asleep on the couch, the next day woke up and watched the rest. They had cameras set up all around. It was awesome !
    Not on ABC, but they still do that on...….some channel. Along with a couple of other 24 hour races. Isn't there one in Florida? Or they may film the whole thing and then show the highlights in a 4-6 hour period.

    I watched the beginning and tale end of one, a couple of months ago. So they had to show the whole thing. Had a clock in the upper corner. Started like at 2 in the PM and then came back at 2 to watch the end.

    Been watching Formula 1 for a long time. There is a movie about Formula 1, is it Grand Prix? Staring ….clearing the cob webs.....James Garner ?

    Why yes it is: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060472/

    And don't forget who won the Gumball Rally. The Cobra: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074597/
    "Wise Men Still Seek Him"-bumper sticker

    "Our Constitution is designed only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for any other."-John Adams
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  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by CaryC View Post
    Not on ABC, but they still do that on...….some channel. Along with a couple of other 24 hour races. Isn't there one in Florida? Or they may film the whole thing and then show the highlights in a 4-6 hour period.

    I watched the beginning and tale end of one, a couple of months ago. So they had to show the whole thing. Had a clock in the upper corner. Started like at 2 in the PM and then came back at 2 to watch the end.

    Been watching Formula 1 for a long time. There is a movie about Formula 1, is it Grand Prix? Staring ….clearing the cob webs.....James Garner ?

    Why yes it is: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0060472/

    And don't forget who won the Gumball Rally. The Cobra: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0074597/
    Maybe not now, but when I was a teenager, I am positive it was ABC.
    "No one ever rescues an old dog. They lay in a cage until they die. PLEASE save one. None of us wants to die cold and alone... --Dennis Olson "

    Si vis pacem, para bellum

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by NoDandy View Post
    Maybe not now, but when I was a teenager, I am positive it was ABC.
    Yeah, probably was. The ...agony of defeat, and all that. However what I meant was, if you were still interested in watching it, you still could.
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