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Country of origin:United States
Produced in:1967
Numbers built:10 (J-1 - J10)
Predecessor:Ford GT40 Mk II
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:September 26, 2016
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Click here to download printer friendly versionBefore being shipped to France, the highly advanced racing car was shaken down at Riverside. At the annual Le Mans test day, the driving duties were handed to Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon. Within a few laps, Amon was on the pace and just shy of Phil Hill's 1965 pole time. At the end of the day, the J-car had clocked the quickest time of the trial. It was nevertheless not entered in the race as Ford could not afford a new car debacle for the third year in a row. Coincidentally McLaren and Amon scored that elusive Le Mans win that year in the now well sorted GT40 Mk II, followed by two other Mk IIs. Despite the success of the Mk II, Ford continued the J-car development and a second car was constructed in the summer for further testing.

After the Le Mans trial the first J-car was returned to the United States and served mainly as a mule for testing different body configurations, mainly to improve high speed stability. The second J was completed in August and prepared to race in the new Can-Am Challenge, which would start in September. During a test at Riverside, Ken Miles was killed in a freak accident, the cause of which is still not clear. Immediately after the accident, the construction of a third car was suspended and the first one was destroyed in a crash-test to help determine the cause of the fatal accident. Late in October the third car was finally assembled with a conventional gearbox replacing the automatic.

Ferrari's announcement of the 330 P4 had gotten the Ford people worried and to make sure the J-car was ready, Shelby was asked to help develop the car. In January of 1967 'J-3' was extensively tested and as many as twenty-five body configurations in five days were tried. Finally a design was found that best combined low-drag with high-speed stability. A fourth car was built, equipped with the new body and sent to Sebring for the J-car's belated competition debut. Referring to its GT40 lineage, the J-car became the Ford GT Mk IV, or just Mk IV. In the hands of Bruce McLaren and Mario Andretti, the bright yellow livered Mk IV set pole position with a 2.6 second margin and was driven a debut victory.

A week later, McLaren was at Le Mans to test J-3 in the official Trials. Fitted with all sorts of testing equipment, it failed to record a quick time, but was clocked at 330 km/h down the Mulsanne straight. To leave nothing to chance, four completely new chassis were constructed for Le Mans. Two (J-5 and J-6) were handed to Shelby American for McLaren/Donohue and Gurney/Foyt, and two (J-7 and J-8) were entered by Holman & Moody for Andretti/Bianchi and Ruby/Hulme. The four Mk IVs were backed up by another three factory/Shelby prepared GT40 Mk IIs. They faced seven state of the art Ferraris and fellow Americans Chaparral, who brought two Chevrolet engined 2Fs with their advanced moveable wing.

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  Article Image gallery (81) Chassis (4) Specifications User Comments (3)