The Ford That Beat Ferrari

The Ford GT40
Ford GT40 - Photograph courtesy of Le Mans Coupes Ltd

A Racing History Of The GT40 (Third Edition)

With the release this week of the film “Le Mans ‘66” Ford v. Ferrari, starring Academy Award-winners Matt Damon and Christian Bale, which is based on the true story of American car designer Carroll Shelby and British engineer and driver Ken Miles, it seems only fitting that we should review the new edition of “The Ford That Beat Ferrari” which was published last month.

The book is written by John S. Allen and Gordon J. Jones, with a foreword by legendary Belgian racing driver Jacky Ickx, who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans six times. In 1968, Ickx won the Brands Hatch six-hour endurance race with co-driver Brian Redman in a John Wyer entered Ford GT40 Mk1.

GT40 black and white book illustrations

The two co-authors are long-standing car enthusiasts with a real passion for the Ford GT40 and other iconic racing cars from the golden era of endurance racing that inspired them when growing up. Both authors have also independent of each other, contributed to many a motoring magazine over the years, and to this day, still continue to work on new books. They both live in western France, John Allen in the départment of Deux Sèvres and Gordon Jones in the départment of Charente-Maritime.

With over 850 period photographs, many in colour, the book tells the story of the remarkable Ford GT40.

Back in 1963 Ford tried to buy Ferrari, and after being rebuffed, set about creating its own racing programme in an effort to beat the famous Prancing Horse at what was then and still is today, the world’s most prestigious car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.Ford GT40 Cars

The Ford GT40 was the creation of visionary American car designer Carroll Shelby who worked closely with fearless British-born driver and sports car racing engineer Ken Miles. Together they battled corporate interference, the laws of physics, and their own personal demons to build this revolutionary new racing car for Ford Motor Company in a bid to take on the dominating race cars of Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1966 Shelby, Miles and Ford achieved their dream with the GT40 finishing first, second and third at Le Mans, somewhat controversially it has to be said though, as Ford wanted a publicity photograph and ordered all three cars to cross the finish line together, denying Miles the unique achievement of winning the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans all in the same year. The car itself, did however go on to win Le Mans the next three years in a row.

Racing the Ford GT40

The book covers in some detail the development of the GT40, from how the prototype Ford GT emerged in 1964 from the previous year’s Lola GT programme. It talks about the works teams and the GT40, including the car’s racing exploits in its earlier years of development, first with Ford Advanced Vehicles in 1964, then with Shelby American in 1965 and then with Alan Mann Racing in 1966.

The big ones section of the book covers the GT40’s evolution into the 7-litre monsters that brought it success, including the first two Le Mans victories with the Mark II in 1966 and then with the Mark IV in 1967, before the car become outlawed thanks to the new restrictions on engine size.

Building the GT40

In the Gulf years section, the Ford GT40, now with a smaller 5-litre engine, raced with John Wyer’s JW Automotive Engineering in the iconic blue and orange colours of Gulf. This was rewarded with two further Le Mans wins in 1968 and 1969.

The production line racer section of the book tells the stories of the 68 privateers, both big and small, who raced GT40s over the years, while the chassis and drivers section provide resumés of type designations, chassis histories and all the drivers who raced GT40s.

The GT40 racing in France

In the concluding sections – the magic lives on – the book shows surviving cars at differing stages in their later life, as the two authors bring the story up to date with developments since the 2005 edition. This original book was first published in 1985.

The Ford That Beat Ferrari – A Racing History of the GT40 Third edition was published in October 2019 and is priced at £90.00 and has 496 pages.

ISBN: 978-1-910505-47-2
Format: 280x230mm Hardback
Illustration: over 850 photos, including colour

For more information and to purchase a copy of the book, please visit the Evro Publishing website: www.evropublishing.com

Author Bio:

Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.

Book cover and illustrations courtesy of Evro Publishing

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