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Built in:Slough, England
Produced in:1966
Numbers built:11 (Plus two prototypes)
Predecessor:Ford GT40
Successor:Ford Mk IV
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 16, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionWhen Ford embarked on the ambitious project to end Ferrari's dominance at Le Mans, the original engine envisioned to power the GT (later GT40) was the all-alloy, twin-cam V8, which was already under development for use in the Indy 500. When the sophisticated engine was delayed, an alloy version of the push-rod small-block V8 was used. For the subsequent production cars, this was later replaced by the ubiquitous cast-iron small-block, which was also used in Carroll Shelby's Cobra. Unfortunately, this engine proved not powerful enough for the relatively heavy GT40.

While Ford Advanced Vehicles (FAV) in England, looked at reducing the car's weight, the American members of the team, perhaps not surprisingly, believed there was replacement for displacement and suggested Ford's big-block V8 to be adopted. One of the major proponents of the bigger (and heavier) engine was Carroll Shelby, who had been asked to join the GT40 program at the start of 1965 in order to get it back on track. To explore this option, two of the GT prototype chassis were shipped from FAV to Ford subsidiary Kar Kraft in the United States, where they were fitted with massive, seven-litre V8s.

One of the reasons why the original GT40 was so heavy was the use of a sheet steel instead of a more conventional aluminium monocoque chassis. This was done with an eye on making the car easier to produce but also allowed for the big-block engine to be fitted without requiring much in the way of reinforcements. In addition to the sturdy tub, the chassis also consisted of steel subframes mounted on either end of the centre section. Suspension was also wholly conventional with double wishbones at the front and a F1-inspired multi-link setup at the rear.

The '427' big block engine was derived from the V8 used in the Ford Galaxie road car. Among the few changes made to the engine was the addition of a dry-sump system, which allowed the V8 to sit lower in the chassis. Breathing through a single Holley carburettor, the big block produced around 465 bhp. One complication was that there was no suitable gearbox available that could to take the massive power and especially torque produced by the 427 V8. This was addressed by hastily constructing a brand new four-speed gearbox in-house.

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  Article Image gallery (167) Chassis (8) Specifications User Comments (2)