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  Ford GT40 'AM Lightweight'

  Article Image gallery (20) AM GT-2 Specifications User Comments (1)  
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Built in:Slough, England
Produced in:1966
Numbers built:2
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:December 27, 2010
Download: All images
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Click here to download printer friendly versionDisappointed by the lack of success, Ford called in the help of Carroll Shelby and parted ways with Eric Broadley who continued production of Lola cars next door. It paid off immediately as Shelby entered GTs took a convincing victory and third place in the 1965 season opening race at Daytona. Back at FAV the development work continued and during the season a variety of different cars were constructed including several roadsters and one with an alloy chassis. These were constructed predominantly to figure out why Ferrari continued to race open cars, even though coupes were considered to be far more efficient. FAV found little to no advantage in the configuration and certainly not one that justified the reduced rigidity. In retrospect, more important were the two prototypes that were sent to the United States to be fitted with seven litre engines. These, together with one of the roadsters and the first three GT40 production cars were entered at Le Mans. The two big block cars were easily the quickest out there, but due to poor reliability Ford again left the track empty-handed with none of the six cars present managing to reach the finish. Phil Hill did record the fastest lap with an average of just above 222 km/h.

Well over a year after the first Ford GT had taken to the track, the nose design was finally good enough to start production. The 'production' GT40s were fitted with the 4.7 litre engine and ZF gearboxes and available in full racing specification, but also as a road car. The '40' was added to the type indication as a reference to the height of the vehicle, which was approximately 40 inches. The cars were high in demand with privateers and eventually close to 100 GT40s were produced by FAV, which was sold to John Wyer at the end of the 1966 season. Several chassis were shipped to United States to be fitted with the larger, more powerful engine in preparation for a third attempt at taking that elusive Le Mans win. These seven litre cars are commonly referred to as Mark IIs.

No fewer than eight Mark IIs were meticulously prepared for the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although the cars were entered by three different privateer teams on paper, Ford themselves headed the operation and supplied most of the personnel in the pit boxes. Ford's assault was further backed by five regular GT40s. By contrast, the big nemesis, Ferrari fielded only three of their latest generation prototypes. The 24 hour race proved to be particularly gruelling and only 15 of the 55 starters reached the finish. All of the Ferraris had retired with seven hours to go, as had nine of the Fords, but the surviving three held together long enough to score a historic 1-2-3 photo finish. Even though their goal was achieved, Ford continued development work on a new version of the GT40; the J-car, which would later become known as the Mark IV. This car was completely developed in the United States and with it Ford successfully proved that European help was not needed to score a Le Mans win. Of course this car would have never existed without the program set up by the Europeans four years earlier.

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  Article Image gallery (20) AM GT-2 Specifications User Comments (1)