When is a gt40 not a gt40?

Classic Driver - - LETTERS -

Your Gulf con­test one is­sue ago asked for me more ques­tions about the GT 40’s true iden­tity. The ques­tion asked “How many GT40s started the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours?” had cor­rect an­swer of 13 ac­cord­ing to the win­ner and Clas­sic Driver, but not so when a glance at that great Bi­ble of Mo­tor­sport, the English year­book Au­to­course. The 1966 edi­tion in­di­cates a dif­fer­ent an­swer and to un­der­stand this we must take the reader back to 1966.

David Phipps was the sportscar writer and his re­view reads like this and I quote from that year’s book which I have in my col­lec­tion, “Be­fore the race it seemed Ford might have en­tered too many cars. In fact only 3 of the 13 fin­ished, so the safety in num­bers pol­icy clearly paid off. Th­ese three were all 7 litre Mark 2s, of which eight had started, none of the five GT 40s lasted the dis­tance.” End of quote from Mr Phipps who I may add was a fairly well known Mo­tor­sport writer in his day.

Now with the pas­sage of time this seems to have all been for­got­ten so to­day in 2013 we clas­sify all Ford GT40s, Mark 2, Mark 3s, Mark 4s and even the Js which have been in­cluded un­der the same head­ing be­cause it is eas­ier to do so. I’m not go­ing to ar­gue how many were built be­cause that starts another de­bate; any­how there are sev­eral good books on that sub­ject. One other point, the GT40’s true height is 40 and a half inches. This is another point for­got­ten but who would call a car the Ford GT40½? The J was 38 1/2; the Mk 4 was 38 1/2 and the Mk3 41 inches.

The num­ber 40 in re­la­tion to the model name was only adopted af­ter the ar­rival of the 7 litre Mk2. Mk1s had a 4.2 litre en­gine, the GT40 5 litres. The Mk3 des­ig­na­tion was re­served for the road cars, of which only seven were built. To­tal pro­duc­tion over the en­tire Ford GT range from 1964-69 is quoted as 107 ve­hi­cles, but is very much open to in­ter­pre­ta­tion and de­bate!

In clos­ing may I wish all of you who are trav­el­ing on the Clas­sic Driver tour to Le Mans in June for the 24 Hours, es­pe­cially those of you go­ing for the first time (and that in­cludes you Terry (Mar­shall) a safe and won­der­ful trip. This is an event that will draw you back and if you are as keen as me, sleep lots for the last cou­ple of days lead­ing up to it and you may last the full 24 hours, as I did and have done a num­ber of times be­cause I did not want this magic event to end. This and the Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed are to me the Mo­tor­sport events one must see in one’s life­time. Derek Woods Christchurch Th Thanks Derek. You will be pleased to know that our win­ner in his an­swer gave us sep­a­rate an­swers for GT40 and Mk2 so you are not alone in main­tain­ing the dif­fer­ence in the two cars.

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