Page 1 of 2 Next >> For John Wyer's Gulf Oil backed team, the drastic rule changes at the end of the 1967 proved to be a blessing in disguise. While they rendered the John Wyer Automotive (JWA) developed and highly successful Mirage M1 obsolete, the ban of the big banger sports cars ironically also brought the original GT40 back into the fray. Following Ford's withdrawal from racing, JWA was solely responsible for the construction of the cars and orders flooded in for the GT40. It was still eligible because it met the 50-car production limit to be homologated as a 'Group 4' GT car. Wyer could not only boast a full order book but one of his 'works' cars also won the all-important 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1968.
In addition to Group 4, there was also a 'Group 6' class, created for purpose-built prototype racers. Whereas Group 4 had a five-litre displacement, the prototypes were restricted to just three litres. This, conveniently, was the same limit applied to Formula 1 engines of the day. Despite the displacement off-set, the regulations were written to favour the prototypes, at least for outright speed. During the 1968 season, this was underlined by the performance of the quick but fragile Porsche 907s and all-new 908s. Wyer also became increasingly convinced that after five seasons, the GT40 was really approaching the end of the line and halfway through the 1968, he commissioned the construction of the brand-new Mirage M2 prototype racer.
Considering Wyer's close ties to Ford, the recently introduced Ford-Cosworth DFV V8 was the obvious engine of choice for the project. Unfortunately the complete 1968 production was allocated to the various Formula 1 teams and to Alan Mann for 'his' Ford F3L Group 6 racer. The only other readily available three-litre engine was BRM's V12. Specifically designed for the new Group 6 regulations, it was a straightforward design. The V12 featured twin overhead camshafts but only two valves per cylinders compared to the four of the Cosworth DFV. Equipped with Lucas fuel-injection, the British twelve cylinder engine produced around 390 bhp in 1968. John Wyer was not the first customer for the V12 as Cooper and McLaren both used the sports car engine in Formula 1.
Finding a designer for the car was also not straightforward but in Len Terry, Wyer found one of the day's leading engineers. Best known for his Indy 500-winning Lotus and the first Eagles, Terry laid down a conventional aluminium monocoque chassis. Due to use of the BRM engine, a rear subframe had to be added to share the load of the rear suspension. The V12 was mated to the also ZF five-speed gearbox that was also fitted to the GT40s produced by JWA. Suspension was by double wishbones at the front while at the rear top links, lower wishbones and twin trailing arms were fitted. The Mirage M2 was clothed in a tightly wrapped coupe body. Terry's recently established Design Auto built the chassis, suspension and body, while JWA raced the GT40. Page 1 of 2 Next >>