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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 versionThe qualification sessions were dominated by the Americans with McLaren clinching pole position ahead of the Chaparral of Mike Spence and Phill Hill. The fastest Ferrari was seventh and over four seconds slower than the Mk IV. In the race Ferrari's rock-solid reliability saw them gradually rise up the leader board as one by one the Fords and Chaparrals lost time in the pits or were forced to retire. Hulme had set numerous fastest laps, but his Mk IV was sidelined after Ruby damaged the sump during an off-track excursion. Andretti crashed out in the middle of the night and the McLaren/Donohue car lost time in the pit after the rear body had blown off down the Mulsanne and could do no better than fourth. Fortunately the Gurney/Foyt car had a trouble free race, finishing five laps ahead of the best Ferrari to secure the first Le Mans for an all American car.

One day after Ford's second Le Mans win, new regulations for 1968 were announced, which rendered the Mk IV obsolete. Ford brought the Mk IVs back to Holman & Moody and had all four rebuilt to resemble the winning chassis, which according to the ACO was J-6. The cars were painted red and received a 'Gurney-bubble' in the roof to be an exact replica of the winner. For a while these 'winners' were shown at various motorshows. At the end of the year, J-6 was handed to Foyt for his fine debut and winning Le Mans drive. Two additional honeycomb chassis were constructed and used with little success in Can-Am under the G7A moniker, bringing the total of 'J-cars' constructed to ten.

Ford also sold J-7 and J-8, but held onto J-5, which at the time did not have a chassis plate and missed many of the original components like the engine. In 1991 American collector James Glickenhaus bought J-6 and soon after he started to have his doubts about whether his car really was the Le Mans winner. He visited the Ford Museum to inspect J-5 and discovered that it had a lowered floor under the driver's seat. Together with the bubble in roof this was done to accommodate the very tall Dan Gurney. There was also a crack on J-5's nose where a fan with a bottle of champagne had sat down after the race. Furthermore, Glickenhaus found some damage on his car that was caused when the tail blew off. For almost thirty years the ACO and Ford's marketing department had all the historians fooled. To date Glickenhaus is the only person to prove that his Le Mans winning machine, really wasn't.

At first glance the Mk IV could easily be mistaken for being 'just' the fourth evolution of the original Ford GT40. Closer inspection and contrary to the popular opinion about American cars reveals that it is in fact a highly advanced racing car. Particularly with the chassis construction, Ford broke new ground and they were quickly followed by all other racing car manufacturers and to this date the honeycomb construction is still used to create strong, lightweight components. It is unfortunate that the regulations cut the life of the Mk IV short, although many believed that Ford would have left racing to privateers at the end of the season anyways. To this day, the Ford Mk IV remains as the only completely American car to have won the great endurance racing classic.

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