When is a gt40 not a gt40?
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.