The British Sports Car That Became Ford’s Famed GT40
The most important person in the history of the Le Mans-conquering Ford GT40 race car just might be Enzo Ferrari. When the Italian walked away from a deal to sell his company to Ford, Henry Ford II issued an edict to his engieers: Build me a car that will crush Ferrari at the world’s premiere race.
If Ferrari is the most important guy, Eric Broadley just might be the second. He owned Lola Cars, the British racing outfit that stuffed a V8 engine into a mid-engine race car just 40 inches tall and performed admirably at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1963 (until a mechanical problem knocked it out). Ford bought the design, hired Broadley to bolster its racing program, and made the 1963 Lola Mk 6 the basis of the GT40.
It worked beautifully. The Ford GT40 won Le Mans every year from 1966—when it swept the podium—to 1969. The GT40 is an icon, and Ford has on a few occasions resurrected the moniker for limited-edition, big-money supercars. The latest is so crazy amazing that you must apply for the right to buy one.
This Lola Mk 6, one of three prototypes, appears at The Quail: A Motorsports Gathering, perhaps the country’s most elite car show.