BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40

Racing historian Mike Matune represented the CarGuyChronicles at the Simeone Museum’s BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40 Seminar, and produced this feature.

BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40For an oft-talked about and much analyzed subject like Ford’s iconic GT40, the amount of interest that it still elicits is amazing. A full-house crowd filled the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum near the Philadelphia, PA airport to hear a panel of renowned GT40 aficionados bring the GT40’s history into sharper focus.

Gathered on the stage, were (L to R) Janos Wimpffen author (Time and Two Seats) and authority on sports car racing, Mike Teske, author (Ford Racing Century), archivist, and creator of the continuation Kar-Kraft/Ford Mark IV and Allen Grant, Shelby American driver. The entire event was ably moderated by Harry Hurst, author and curator of the Glory Days of Racing Facebook Group. Janos Wimpffen (forefront with microphone) kicked off the seminar by setting the stage for the world of international sports car racing Ford entered in the 1960s.

Then Mike Teske, right,  told the story of Ford’s ill-fated efforts to buy Ferrari and their subsequent approaches to English racecar constructors Lotus, Cooper and Lola. Mike’s presentation was backed up by rare documentation from his personal archives. And as if that wasn’t enough, in front of the stage were Allen Grant’s Lola Mark V1 GT and Benjamin Levy’s race-spec, road-worthy GT40 P/1030, below, (originally used by Ford and Shell Oil for advertising, never raced) along with the Simeone Collection’s Alan Mann lightweight XGT-1 (GT40 Mark II) and Ford Mark IV Chassis # J-8). To the back of the lecture area were numerous examples of the First (2005-2006) and Second (2017-2022) generations of the modern Ford GT.

After the BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40 presentation portion of the Seminar, all the cars were exercised behind the museum. In the background flags and lights indicate all is green! On “track” and separated by some 60 years, Alan Grant’s Lola Mark VI GT waits to rejoin the fun as a Second-Generation Ford GT moves past. To some the Lola is the basis for Ford’s subsequent efforts, to others merely the inspiration; either way, it was an important benchmark along the timeline of the original Ford GT/GT40.

In short order, Ford’s Roy Lunn who had been responsible for the Mustang 1, took four building blocks (the Mustang 1 suspension, Indy car engine & Colotti transaxle and Ford Styling’s body shape) and created the Ford 1964 GT. Quickly the development cycle pushed the Mark 1 forward. The original body-shape would be refined to better address aerodynamics. Borrani wire wheels would be replaced with Halibrand cast wheels and powerplants shifted from the 255-inch aluminum Indy small-block to the race-prepped, production-version cast-iron 289, but still with four 48 IDA Weber carburetors.

BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40But racing never stands still and Ford realized they would have to improve the GT40’s overall power to weight ratio to gain a competitive advantage. Enter the Ford GT40 Mark II. Among its advancements were an aluminum-head Ford 427 backed by a Kar-Kraft transaxle, and the resulting chassis modifications to bring it all together.

Long proven in drag and stock cars, the 427 fills the engine bay of the Simeone Collection’s yellow (Alan Mann Racing) XGT-1. Topped by a familiar Holley four-barrel and utilizing an impressive “bundle of snakes” exhaust system, it raced in the fabled 1966 Le Mans contest where Ford scored an impressive 1-2-3 finish. In answer to a question during the BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40 Q&A, the panel acknowledged the race’s controversial finish, but concluded it was accurate based on the rules in effect at the time and a thorough analysis of all available documentation, including lap charts and timing paperwork from ACO/Le Mans, IBM and Shelby.

BIRTH OF THE FORD GT40What could top Ford’s 1966 domination at Le Mans, quite simply, why another victory in 1967 of course! This would be an All-American victory in the new Ford Mark IV. Dan Gurney and A. J. Foyt came home first in the car constructed by Kar Kraft, Ford’s Detroit-based “Skunk-Works”.

The Mark IV also featured a Ford 427, considerably improved by the use of aluminum Tunnel Port heads and intake manifold with a pair of Holley four-barrels. A Kar-Kraft T-44 four-speed transaxle completed the powertrain, same as used in previous year’s Mk IIs.  Simeone’s blue J-8 was the last Mark IV built at Kar-Kraft, with the final four chassis set aside for other projects. The Mark IV platform was all-new, constructed of lightweight honeycomb aluminum in place of sheet steel and aluminum. This Mark IV was raced at Le Mans in 1967 by Holman & Moody, but did not finish the race.

It would prove to be the end of the line for the Ford factory effort as rules changes limited engine displacement to five-liters, eliminating 427 racecars from competition. John Wyer’s “Gulf” GT40 (P/1075) would win two additional times in 1968-1969 before the curtain finally came down on the Ford GT40 at Le Mans.

 Words & Photos (engines, Lola GT, Mark I) by Mike Matune.

Event photos by Andrew Taylor, Simeone Museum.

For more information on the Simeone Foundation Automotive Museum, ranked #1 in the world, please visit https://simeonemuseum.org/

Follow Harry Hurst, racing historian and author @ https://www.facebook.com/groups/527146584145263

CAMILO PARDO, FORD GT SEMINAR

What better venue than the Simeone Museum – displaying the Ford Mark I GT40 that inspired the 2005 Ford GT – could there be for a CAMILO PARDO, FORD GT SEMINAR?

CAMILO PARDO, FORD GT SEMINAR

On June 11th, Camilo Pardo will discuss the inspirations he used to design the ’05 Ford GT at an event at the Simeone Museum in Philadelphia, PA. Camilo will have an example of the 2005 model to use in his discussion, alongside the same car Camilo used as inspiration for his design almost two decades ago – the ‘66 Ford Mark I GT40 Mk I, chassis #1030, owned by Benjamin Levy. The event will take place at 11:15 – Noon as part of the Museum’s “Demo Days,” where cars from the collection are driven on the back parking area. The theme of the Demo Day is “Americans at Le Mans.” Historian/photographer Harry Hurst will moderate.

Born in New York City, Camilo moved to Detroit at the age of 10 and had by that age developed a fascination with 1960s and 1970s-era sports cars and modern art. After graduating from Detroit’s prestigious Center for Creative Studies in 1985, Camilo was hired by Ford to work at its Design Center in Dearborn, MI. His assignments included working in the Dearborn Advanced Studios, Ford of Europe Studio in Torino, Italy, and the Design Studios in Cologne, Germany. After 15 years at Ford Motor Company, he took on what was for him the ultimate assignment – a state-of-the-art re-design of the classic Ford GT40 racecar. This project produced the ‘02 Ford GT Concept car.

CAMILO PARDO, FORD GT SEMINARAs Chief Designer of the Ford GT and the SVT Studio, Camilo’s team worked on the 2005 and 2006 production Ford GT. The GT became an instant success capturing the interest of car enthusiasts around the world. GT40 P/1030, above, with prototype ’05 Ford GT

Camilo is also a multi-faceted artist, working in oil paintings, fashion, and furniture. His automotive fine art is highly prized by collectors and Camilo plans to have a sampling on display at the Simeone, available for sale. HIs fashion pieces have been created for auto shows and runway exhibits. Camilo’s industrial design reaches into sculptural furniture design that has made the rounds from art galleries in Metro Detroit, Italy, Japan, and the Contemporary Furniture Fare in New York. Check out Camilo’s art @ http://www.camilopardo.com/

For additional information on CAMILO PARDO, FORD GT SEMINAR event, and Museum displays and details, please visit https://www.simeonemuseum.org/

SIMEONE MUSEUM: DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD GT

The birth and evolution of the Ford GT, GT40, Mark II & Mark IV – the iconic cars that won Le Mans four times in the 1960s – will be explored at SIMEONE MUSEUM: DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD GT.

SIMEONE MUSEUM: DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD GTThe “Birth and Evolution of the Ford GT” will have on display in Philadelphia on June 4th, for the very first time at the same place, all the racing variations of the Ford GT: Mk I, Mk II, and Mk IV, as well as a Lola GT Mk 6, a car many believe was an inspiration for the Ford GT.

Three noted authorities will discuss the origins and development of the Ford GT: Allen Grant, former driver for Shelby American and owner of the Lola GT; Mike Teske, author of Ford Racing Century and builder of the Kar-Kraft continuation Mk IVs; and Janos Wimpffen, the author of the most comprehensive history of endurance racing, Time and Two Seats. Historian/photographer Harry Hurst will moderate. After the discussion, several cars in the display will be taken out for demonstration runs on the Museum’s back lot. The event begins at noon and is included with regular museum admission. In addition to the cars above, the display will also include a 2005 and 2019 Ford GT, both cars designed and developed with the original cars as inspiration.  The cars will remain on display at the museum until June 12th.

SIMEONE MUSEUM: DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD GTA second event is scheduled for June 11th at 11 AM featuring Camilo Pardo, the Ford designer who penned the 2005 Ford GT. The very car he used as inspiration, Ford GT-40 Mk I chassis #1030, will be on display for Pardo to use in his discussion. The Ford GT-40 Mk I (chassis #1030) that will be displayed is owned by Benjamin Levy. The Lola GT Mk 6 (#LGT.P) is owned by Allen Grant. The Ford GT Mk II (#XGT1) and Mk IV (#J-8) are both part of the permanent collection at the Simeone Museum. A street model of the Ford GT-40, the Mk III, only seven were built and was not intended for racing. During the discussion, participants will use the cars on display to illustrate design details that are important in the evolution of the car. Video will be projected on the large screen above the stage so attendees can see it close up. The event is scheduled to be streamed live on Facebook.

The Ford GT has its origins in the early 1960s when the Ford Motor Company was looking to improve its stodgy image with Baby Boomers who were beginning to enter the car market. Executives, led by Lee Iacocca, determined that the growing sport of auto racing would be a good way to project a dynamic image. Rebuffed after trying to buy Italian sports car manufacturer Ferrari, Henry Ford II gave the order for Ford to build a car that would win the torturous Le Mans 24-hour endurance race. To expedite the design of the car, Ford put Roy Lunn, above, in charge of the program and he contracted with Lola, whose owner Eric Broadley had built a compact sports coupe with a mid-mounted small-block Ford V-8.  While this car, the Lola GT Mk 6, was not the first Ford GT, it was, along with the 1962 Mustang I, a design inspiration for the first Mk I built in 1964. This car came to be called the Ford GT-40 since its roofline was only 40 inches above the ground.

For more information about SIMEONE MUSEUM: DEVELOPMENT OF THE FORD GT, other displays, hours of operation, and directions, please call 215-365-7233 or visit https://www.simeonemuseum.org/

ONE-OF-ONE: MERCEDES-BENZ UHLENHAUT COUPÉ

Alex Iervolino, Roue watch designer and consummate carguy, blogs about the original,ONE-OF-ONE: MERCEDES-BENZ UHLENHAUT COUPÉ  and Rudolf Uhlenhaut.

ONE-OF-ONE: MERCEDES-BENZ UHLENHAUT COUPÉThe 300 SLR was originally conceived for racing. Mercedes-Benz designed it for the 1956 season, but before it was even completed the company ended up deciding to withdraw from racing at the end of 1955. Even though it was never given a chance to compete, Rudolf Uhlenhaut – the head of the Test Department – managed to appropriate one of the prototypes and transform it into his company car (hence the nickname Uhlenhaut Coupé).

The car with its signature “gull-wing” doors, easily managed to surpass its competitors and earn the reputation as the fastest road car of that era. It reached a maximum speed of approximately 290 km/h (180 mph). Even though it was never used in an official race, that didn’t keep Uhlenhaut from using it like a racecar. Upon noticing he was late for a meeting, rumor has it that he drove from Munich to Stuttgart in just over an hour. Nowadays that same drive takes two-and-a-half hours! The 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupé is the only one existing and has always belonged to Mercedes-Benz. Many believe that if this car were ever to go on sale it would fetch the title as the most expensive car in history!

ONE-OF-ONE: MERCEDES-BENZ UHLENHAUT COUPÉ

Note: I met Rudolf Uhlenhaut during a press event at the Indianapolis 500 track in 1971 when Mercedes-Benz introduced Anti-Lock brakes and I was the editor of Hi-Performance CARS magazine. I thought I could go through the cones as fast in an SL with regular brakes as I could when the new Anti-Lock brakes were engaged. Mr. Uhlenhaut rode shotgun with me. Of course, I was dead wrong as I started scattering cones at an alarming rate. He later gave me a verbal driving lesson on the infield, above. My friend and accomplished racing author and photographer, Harry Hurst, had a T-Shirt made for me a couple of years ago, right. Martyn L. Schorr

For information about well crafted, automotive-themed Roue wristwatches and accessories, please visit https://rouewatch.com