GT40 or not? Time to set the record straight.

There has been a growing use of the term GT40 to describe the seven litre cars, the MkII of 1965 to 1967 and the 1967 MkIV. None of these were known as GT40s at the time that they raced though, so here is the story.

The Ford GT of 1964 was built under a package title of GT40 that described a GT car that would be 40 inched high, but in racing terms it was always entered as a Ford GT through 1964 and 1965. In the latter year the seven litre car was introduced and the was initially known as the GT X, X for experimental. The 1965 Le Mans entry list has the two seven litre cars down as GT X models, although by the time of the race their official designation was Ford GT MkII. At the time the 4.7 litre model was going into production for customers to race or use as a road car. This was the Ford GT MkIII, or GT40.

In 1966 the 7 litre GT MkII had been revised and was described as a MkIIA, but the suffix was not much used and they were usually just called a MkII. These cars ran in the Group 6 prototype class of the championship and the production 4.7 litre cars ran in the Group 4 class as a GT40.

During 1966 Ford developed the J car, so called because it was built to meet the requirements of Appendix J of the regulations. A J Type ran at the Le Mans test weekend, but did not race. This was the type of Ford GT that Ken Miles was killed testing at Riverside later in the year and it had a completely different type of chassis to the other GT models.

For 1967 the J car had evolved into the GT MkIV and became the main focus of the Group 6 championship thrust, but the MkII was developed to meet changes in the regulations and was entered as a Ford GT MkIIB. In the Group 4 category the GT40 continued to race with either the 4.7 or 5 litre engine.

By 1968 the big bangers were outlawed from Group 6, but the GT40 was still eligible for Group 4 and ran competitively through the year as it did with less success in 1969, but the same GT40, chassis 1075, won Le Mans in both of those years.

It was much later that lazy journalism started to see the term GT40 being applied to the MkIIs. Yes they did have a modified version of the chassis that went into the GT40, but they were a different car. As for the MkIV it has nothing to do with the GT40 model.

So when you hear someone like Jeremy Clarkson tell you that the GT40 won Le Mans four years in a row he is wrong and so are any books or websites that refer to Mks II and IV as GT40s. The myth is constantly perpetuated on social media too, so those of us who know the truth must speak up!

%d bloggers like this: