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THE FORD THAT BEAT FERRARI ... A Racing History of the GT40

Published on Fri, Nov 29, 2019

By: Doug Stokes



A Racing History of the GT40

By John S. Allen and Gordon J. Jones
Foreword by Jacky Ickx
• Publication: September 2019
• ERVO Publishing
• UK price: £90.00 US price $120.00
• ISBN: 978-1-910505-47-2
• Format: 280 x 230mm 11.25 x 8.25in
• Hardback 496 pages
• 850 photos color and b/w

This new edition of a classic book tells the story of the celebrated Ford GT40 through a remarkable array of over 850 period photographs, many of them in color. After Ford unsuccessfully attempted to buy Ferrari, in 1963, the American car giant instead embarked on its own racing program in a bid to beat the famous Italian marque at the world’s most prestigious race, the Le Mans 24 Hours, as told in the new Hollywood movie Ford v. Ferrari.
The mission was eventually accomplished: Ford’s challenger in this battle, the GT40, finished 1–2–3 at Le Mans in 1966 and won for the next three years as well. This book, originally published in 1985 and redesigned in 2005, is now available again due to popular demand, with further revisions to keep the information up-to-date.

 Development of the GT40: how the prototype Ford GT emerged in 1964 from the previous year’s Lola GT program.

• The works teams and the GT40: the car’s racing exploits in its earlier years, first with Ford Advanced Vehicles (1964), then Shelby American (1965) and Alan Mann Racing (1966).

• The big ones: this section of the book covers the GT40’s evolution into the 7-liter monsters that brought enormous success, including the first two Le Mans victories with the Mark II (1966) and Mark IV (1967), before becoming outlawed by new restrictions on engine size.

• The Gulf years: against all expectations, the venerable GT40, now back to 5-liter power, raced on with John Wyer’s crack JW Automotive Engineering outfit in the iconic blue and orange colors of Gulf, successes including two further Le Mans wins (1968 and 1969).

• The production line racer: the stories of the 68 privateers, big and small, who raced GT40s.

• Chassis and drivers: a data section giving resumés of type designations, chassis histories and all drivers who raced GT40s.

• The magic lives on: the book’s concluding sections show surviving cars at differing stages in their later life and bring the story up to date with developments since the 2005 edition.

Late nights and some not-so-glamorous, pretty darn dirty work … but it all pays off when you win … Here’s what a Ford GT 40 looks like when stripped naked and (almost) ready for a bright coat of paint, a splash of sponsor decals, tires, wheels, the drivers’ names, and a racing number …

ALL OF THE ABOVE:  Is all true and every word above is directly from the publishers’ info sheets on this book.  In all honesty, I could not have hammered out a better (or more accurate) review of this book had I tried.  If “the movie” has stirred any interest in the remarkable machine that was the star of “Ford v Ferrari”, this is your instant guide book and in-depth photo/tech catalog raisonne of every Ford GT 40 ever built, when it was born, who owned it, who drove it, and how each and every one of these magnificent machines fared in competition. 

It’s either very late at night or very early in the morning,
there’s still ten or twelve hours left in the race, and the
team mechanics have this Gulf GT40 field-stripped
and trying to find out what made that clunking noise …
If one listens very closely here one can hear the driver
screaming at the crew to get the darned fixed and get him
back in the race …

(As for the film … for me personally, it was a movie that appeared to portray real people and real events without any too great deal of real attention to or zeal for the facts.  This book is not the Hollywood version of the vaunted Ford GT40.  For the record, facts and accuracy don’t stand in the way of a “good story” here, in fact, they’re the precise reason to go out and buy this one.)

Doug StokesEditor-at-Large

Editor’s note: The title photo shows the moment before the fateful finish of the 1966 Le Mans race.  The number 2 car (McClaren/Amon) crosses the finish line ahead of the number 1 car (Miles/Hulme) with the number 5 Ford GT (Bucknum/Hutcherson) back a few meters in third.  Both the number 2 car and the number 1 car were credited with completing 360 laps…

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