A-Z Supercars: Ford GT40

Was the Ford GT40, rather than Lamborghini’s Miura, the world’s first supercar?

Born out of an almighty falling-out between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari, the GT40 in its various guises won Le Mans four times between 1966 and 1969, and the roadgoing versions can lay serious claim to being the world’s first supercars as we now understand the term.

Ford was determined to win Le Mans, and when a mooted takeover of Ferrari fell through, it turned to the British company Lola to develop a mid-engined Ford-powered endurance racer. There were several variations over the years, with engines ranging from 4.2 to a mighty 7 litres.

Subscribe to evo magazine

Subscribe today to have every issue of evo delivered straight to you. You'll SAVE 39% on the shop price, and get evo for its original cover price for a whole year!

The MkIII version from 1969 pictured here, which John Simister drove for evo’s tenth birthday issue back in 2008, was the closest the GT40 came to being a genuinely useable road car, although it was still very much a racer at heart.

Even with its 5-litre V8 in a fairly mild state of tune, the MkIII is still a serious performance car. The ZF gearbox is co-operative, the twin-plate clutch properly progressive, the ride and noise levels just about acceptable for a drive down to Le Mans…

Squeeze the throttle hard and there’s a bellow somewhere behind, the Ford squats its tail and leaps forward, accelerating hard well into three-figure speeds. Despite appearances, it’s a small car, which makes it a terrific overtaker, with a sound barrage to stun all opposition. This road car had a top speed of around 165mph; the racers regularly broke 200mph on the Mulsanne straight. When John Simister drove the mkIII around the famous circuit, he found its handling first-rate, the steering quick and full of feedback, just as you’d hope.

Just 107 GT40s were produced and the originals – much copied – are among the world’s most sought-after classics. Whether it was the first supercar is still debated, but what a machine.

Specifications

Years made 1964-1969Engine V8, 4949cc (mk III)Max power 306bhp @ 6000rpm Torque 329lb ft @ 4200rpm0-60mph 5.3sec Max speed 165mphPrice £7549 new, c£1-3million today

Recommended

Visit/ford/ford-gt40/9088/ford-gt40-review-history-prices-and-specs
Ford GT40 coupe

Ford GT40 – review, history, prices and specs

26 Dec 2019

Most Popular

Visit/bmw/m3-saloon/20529/all-new-bmw-m3-competition-revealed-an-icon-reborn
BMW M3 saloon

All-new BMW M3 Competition revealed – an icon reborn

This is the all-new BMW M3 Competition saloon which will join the M4 Competition coupe in BMW M’s new M3/4 family
23 Sep 2020
Visit/hyundai/202950/updated-hyundai-i30-n-revealed-with-optional-dual-clutch-box
Hyundai i30 N

Updated Hyundai i30 N revealed with optional dual-clutch ‘box

It was the hot hatch that upset the status quo, and now the i30 N is back with more power and tech
24 Sep 2020
Visit/peugeot/508/22305/2020-peugeot-508-sport-engineered-unveiled-bmw-3-series-rival-turned-to-355bhp
Peugeot 508

2020 Peugeot 508 Sport Engineered unveiled – BMW 3-series rival turned to 355bhp

Peugeot’s first Sport Engineering model has finally been uncovered, the hot 508 featuring a range-topping hybrid powertrain
24 Sep 2020
Visit/ferrari/203127/ferrari-omologata-revealed-latest-bespoke-commission-a-v12-super-coupe
Ferrari

Ferrari Omologata revealed – latest bespoke commission a V12 super coupe

One-off Ferrari Omologata revealed with bespoke body 789bhp V12 engine
25 Sep 2020