The Ford that beat Ferrari – A Racing History of the GT40
In 1963 Enzo Ferrari made a decision that had far-reaching consequences, when he snubbed an attempt by Ford to buy his company. The effect of this decision was not what he was expecting, but Henry Ford II was not someone who liked to be led down the garden path, and so he and Lee Iacocca set about devising a plan to beat Ferrari at their own game. As anyone who has worked in the motorsport industry will tell you, money cannot buy you victory at the top of the sport, it only comes when you build a team that works well together.
It had been Henry Ford’s goal to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, as he correctly determined, that the worldwide exposure and prestige this would bring the company, would significantly help the sales of Ford’s road cars. The mission was eventually accomplished as Ford’s challenger in this battle, the GT40, finished 1–2–3 at Le Mans in 1966, and it would go on to win Le Mans for the next three years, making it four years in a row.
While Enzo Ferrari would live to regret the decision that he made, the fact remains that the rest of the motorsport world would have been all the poorer had the GT40 not made its appearance. From America to Europe and England, wherever the GT40 raced, it became the car to beat. Anyone who had an interest in the world of motorsport, from engineers to drivers and enthusiasts as well as the media, could not help but admire the achievements and the aggressive presence of the GT40, both now and in period. Those Porsche fans, in particular, will remember the closeness of the duel between the #64 Porsche 908 LH of Herrmann/Larrousse as it battled against the #6 GT40 of Ickx/Oliver in the 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours, the Ford winning by the narrowest of margins.
This new edition of a classic book tells the story of the celebrated Ford GT40 through a selection of over 850 period photographs, many of them in colour. The text describes the development of the GT40, and how the prototype Ford GT emerged in 1964 from the previous year’s Lola GT programme.
The book is divided into eight ‘Parts’ which are again divided into chapters. The eight parts include: Part I – The development of the Ford GT40; Part II – The Works Teams and the GT40; Part III – The Big Ones; Part IV – Gulf; Part V – The Production Line Racer; Part VI – Chassis and Drivers; Part VII – The Magic Lives On; Part VIII – And Still the Magic Lives On. The coverage in each of those Parts is really comprehensive, for instance in Part II, this includes Ford Advanced Vehicles (1964), Shelby American (1965), and Alan Mann Racing (1966). Part III includes Prototypes, The Mark II, From J-car to Mark IV, and Group 7 Racing. Part VI which covers Chassis and Drivers, the data section, offers the reader and Ford GT40 enthusiast a wealth of important and interesting historic information including résumés of type designations, chassis histories as well as information on all the drivers who raced GT40s.
This book, now extended to 496 pages, boasts an enviable selection of images that are, quite simply, priceless. Besides the excellent shots of the various race cars at the world’s finest race tracks, the images of personnel working on the cars both in the workshops and at the tracks show the commitment and anxiety of working under pressure, as well as the joy of victory.
The Ford that beat Ferrari is the third edition of this wonderful story told by authors, John Allen and Gordon Jones, the first edition having been published in 1985, the second in 2005 and third this year. This publication has become the go-to book for any and all information covering the history, design, development and achievements of the GT40. Adjectives such as “comprehensive,” “unsurpassed” and “most complete” were used by the motoring press when describing the previous edition. This third edition takes that accolade a step further, and is now available again due to popular demand, with further revision to keep the information up-to-date.
Although the price of this edition has increased compared to the previous book, if you can stretch this far, you won’t be disappointed. In fact, you will be pleased that you have a copy of this very fine book. And no self-respecting Porsche motorsport enthusiast would deny that this superb race car played a significant part in Porsche’s history of Le Mans achievements. Despite the Ford beating the Porsche 908 by a matter of yards at the ’69 race, the story of this particular battle is still being told today. The Ford that beat Ferrari is a superb piece of writing, and the history of the GT40 will live on long into the future. Get your copy without delay!
Note: To add relevant interest, the battle between these two adversaries will be played out in the forthcoming Hollywood movie Ford v. Ferrari which releases on 15 November 2019.
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