Ford GT40: the American sports car that was born to win the 24 Le Mans race

The Ford GT40 was born in the 60s to compete in endurance racing. Ford, at that time, wanted to be present at the highest level to enhance its brand image and continue to increase sales. To do so, it decided to buy Ferrari, which in those years was doing nothing but winning races. But negotiations with Enzo Ferrari did not come to fruition, and the oval firm had no choice but to manufacture its own car. At that moment, the GT40 was born.

Although it has always been known as GT40, the truth is that this designation was only used in the first model. The acronym GT refers to Gran Turismo, while the number 40 refers to the height of the car, which is 40 inches (1016 mm).

To move the Le Mans project forward, Ford reaches an agreement with Lola to use its MK6 GT model, and with Caroll Shelby to have an engine with the desired preparation. In just two years of development, Ford finally achieved its goal and was crowned winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its Ford GT40 from 1966 to 1969. In total, 105 units of this first model were produced.

Ford GT40

It took 34 years to launch a reinterpretation of the mythical sports car that triumphed at Le Mans. The Ford GT, which is how it would be called from now on, was born to celebrate Ford's 100th anniversary in 2003. With a larger size, but maintaining the style of its predecessor, it was a very good sports car animated by a huge V8 engine of 5.4 liters and 550 hp. In addition, it was a car with a very good behavior and perfectly usable for everyday use. In total, just over 4,000 units were produced. Its value is growing.

In 2016, the third generation of the Ford GT arrives. On this occasion, its launch was held to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Ford's first victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966.

Unlike its predecessors, the latest Ford GT was a much more advanced sports car. It had a carbon fiber cockpit and front and rear subframes encapsulated in carbon fiber panels. This resulted in a stiffer and lighter car.

Without reaching the huge V8 of previous editions, the Ford GT used a 3.5-liter V6 engine that developed a power of 655 hp and a torque of 745 Nm. With all this, and thanks to an unladen weight of 1,385 kg, Ford's sports car reached a top speed of 348 km/h. To get the most out of the engine, the gasoline V6 was associated with a dual-clutch automatic transmission with seven ratios manufactured by Getrag.

This latest version of the GT maintained the genes of its predecessors, although, in this case, the bodywork had a much more worked in aerodynamic terms. The same was true of the interior, which in addition to gaining in modernity, had a more luxurious finish. Carbon fiber and Alcantara trim were present throughout the cabin.

Special edition of 20 Ford GT LM Edition cars

At the end of 2022, Ford announced the end of production of the third-generation Ford GT. To put the finishing touch to this last installment, Ford launched a very special and exclusive edition called the LM Editionof which only 20 units were produced. In addition, and as if that were not enough, this special version also came to commemorate the victories at Le Mans in 2016 and the historic triple podium in 1966.

The Ford GT LM Edition featured a carbon fiber body lacquered in Liquid Silver exterior paint, accompanied by a unique red or blue finish, honoring the red and blue exterior design of the Le Mans-winning #68 Ford GT.

Ford GT LM Edition

Customers could choose between red or blue tinted carbon fiber. This included tinting of the ultralight material on the front splitter, side sills and door sills, plus the grille, mirrors and rear diffuser. Exposed 20-inch gloss carbon fiber wheels with matching red or blue accents on the interior, plus titanium lug nuts and black lacquered Brembo brake calipers further modernized this package.

A signature element of the GT LM was the 3D-printed titanium dual exhaust featuring a cyclonic design inside the tips and hinting at the 660-horsepower twin-turbo EcoBoost engine. Above it was a titanium GT LM badge, also 3D printed.

Inside, the Ford GT LM Edition featured exclusive details, such as carbon fiber seats trimmed in Alcantara, with the driver's seat in matching red or blue, and the passenger seat in Ebony with stitching matching the color of the driver's seat, as well as the engine start button. The instrument panel was trimmed in Ebony leather and Alcantara, while the pillars and headliner were trimmed in Ebony Alcantara. Carbon fiber was also present in the cabin, specifically on the console, the ventilation registers and the lower A-pillars with a matte finish.

To make the Ford GT LM Edition a special final tribute, the Ford Performance team sought to integrate the winning spirit of Le Mans into each production unit. To do so, the team tracked down the engine from the third-place 2016 Ford GT (#69) that was disassembled and archived after the race, ground the crankshaft to powder, and developed a unique custom alloy that was used to 3D print the instrument panel badge for each of the 20 special edition supercars.

The Ford GT LM Edition 2022 pays tribute to the third-generation supercar's victory and the #68 Ford GT of Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Müller at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.

As in the epic 1966 battle between Ford and Ferrari, the No. 68 Ford GT took the lead for the final time in the 20th hour of the race after a two-way duel with the No. 82 Ferrari. Hand was behind the wheel on all three occasions when the Ford edged out the Ferrari, rekindling a 50-year rivalry between the two automakers.

The No. 69 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Richard Westbrook joined the winners on the podium after taking third place. The No. 66 and 67 Ford GTs finished fourth and ninth, respectively.

The Ford GT LM 2022 also pays tribute to the Herculean effort and drive of the Ford Chip Ganassi team that transformed the car into a Le Mans winner in just over a year (395 days).

Ford GT LM 2022

All Ford GT limited editions

The Ford GT LM adds to the celebration of the supercar's historic moments in motorsport history, including, of course, its Le Mans titles. In total, the series includes 10 ultra-limited edition supercars. Among them are:

- Ford GT Holman Moody Moody Heritage Edition 2022, honoring the company's 1966 Le Mans victory and the racing team that innovated the GT40 MK II's ability to deliver a brake configuration to match the race car's 300+ km/h speeds; only 21 units were built.

-FordGT Alan Mann Heritage Edition 2022 in honor of Alan Mann 's experimental lightweight Ford GT MK I prototype Ford GT that helped pave the way for the triple podium finish at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans; 30 units produced.

- Ford GT '64 Prototype Heritage Edition 2022 honoring the origins of Ford GT and the first five original Ford GT prototypes; 27 units produced.

- Ford GT '66 Daytona Heritage Edition 2021 Ford GT '66 Daytona Edition 2021 in honor of the #98 Ford GT MK II race car that gave Ford supremacy at Daytona 1966 (1-2-3-5 positions), kicking off a magical season for the Ford GT40 MK II; 50 units.

- Ford GT '69 Gulf Livery Heritage Edition 2020 in honor of the #6 Ford GT40 MK I race car that won at Le Mans 1969; 50 units. - Ford GT '68 Gulf Livery Heritage Edition 2019 in honor of the #9 Ford GT40 MK I race car that won at Le Mans in 1968; 50 units.

- Ford GT '67 Heritage Edition 2018 Ford GT40 MK IV No. 1 Ford GT40 MK IV race car that won Le Mans in 1967; 39 units.

- Ford GT '66 Heritage Edition 2017 Ford GT40 MK II No. 2 that won at Le Mans 1966; 27 units.

- Ford GT Gulf Livery Heritage Edition 2006 commemorating the GT40's back-to-back 24 Hours of Le Mans titles in 1968 and 1969; 343 units.

In addition, the Ford GT Mk II, a limited edition track-only GT jointly developed by Ford Performance and Multimatic, also concluded at the end of 2022 with a total of 45 units.

Article written by Gustavo Rodríguez

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