The Le Mans 24 hour endurance race is recognised by most as the greatest test of man and
machine(car) in the world. The Ford GT40 was of course designed and built with the sole
purpose in mind of winning this prestigious event. In 1964 when it first competed at Le Mans it
failed in its attempt to conquer the event, this was mainly due to the failure of a temporary
gearbox that had to be used whilst its intended ZF box was being manufactured. In 1966 Ford
were back at Le Mans this time with the Mk.2 car with its 427 cubic inch (7 litre) engine and of
course the ZF box and it took the first three places in the now famous formation finish. In 1967
Ford were again back at Le Mans and this time in the all American Mk.4 car and with an all
American crew it again triumphed. Ford withdrew from its direct participation but John Wyer
took the Mk.1 car with its 289 cubic inch (4.7 litre) engine onto win in 1968 and 1969 in its
famous Gulf racing colours.
The original GT40 production was stopped and these cars have now become legendary in motor racing and as such are very highly prised making ownership of these car out of the reach of many. Soon replicas of the Ford GT40 started to appear to satisfy the demand for this fantastic car. The early replicas were a little half hearted using suspension and chassis from other standard road cars and using straight 4 or at best V6 engines, later in the UK the Rover V8 engine (3.5 litre) was used. As things progressed the replicas became more like the original cars with some even employing steel monocoque chassis very similar to that on the original cars, however, most of the cars currently being offered employ a one piece tubular steel space frame chassis with suspension similar to that employed in the original cars. Most of the replicas now available are true to the original cars and usually employ the Ford 302 cubic inch (5 litre) V8. Many use the original ZF transaxle but many also use the more modern Renault 30 or 21 turbo, Porsche 911 turbo or 930 or the G50 box, Audi 100 or Hewland and Quaiffe boxes. The particular box used is usually dependant upon the state of tune of the Ford engine and the use that the car will be put to. With modern braking systems, fuel injection and other improvements the better GT40 replicas now available will probably perform better than did the original cars.
The GT40 Enthusiasts Club was started by a few enthusiasts and has today grown to be an international club with members in most countries throughout the world and a membership approaching 300. Our members have played a great part in the development of the GT40 replicas and today continue to upgrade the mechanics whilst retaining the classic lines of this now 30 year old car which is still often mistaken as a new modern supercar. Few cars have generated so much passion and still continues successfully in competition in original form and also in its replica form. The replicas are expensive and require many hours of dedicated work to construct making them almost as rare as the original cars. The GT40 in all its forms is truly an enthusiasts cars and gives me main hours of joy and certainly gets the adrenalin going.