Tag Archives: Lunn

Shimmying Past Scrutineers – Ford Mark IV #J5

The Ford Mark IV was the culmination of Ford’s determination to crush Ferrari on it’s own turf, after Enzo had bailed out of selling his eponymous company to the men from Dearborn at the last minute in 1963.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

What started out as an Eric Broadley designed Lola GT powered by a Ford Indy spec V8 in 1963 had been developed into the Ford GT40 with input from Ford’s designers led by Roy Lunn. The GT40 was the subject of two humiliating failures at Le Mans in ’64 and ’65 but then blossomed into the Shelby developed 7 litre / 427 cui Ford GT40 Mark II that swept to a 1,2,3 victory at Le Mans in 1966.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Unable to convince Ford that they needed to build the GT40 with an aluminium frame to save weight Eric Broadley left the GT40 project in 1965 and returned to Lola while Ford and Shelby got to grips with producing a steel framed car that was both powerful enough and strong enough to last 24 hours at a race winning pace.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Ford soon realised that Eric was right about the extra weight carried by the steel framed cars and before the steel framed GT40 Mk II’s romped to victory, in ’66, they set about building an aluminium framed version of the GT40 with the same drive train and suspension components known as the J-Car featuring an innovative aluminium honeycomb monocoque manufactured by Brunswick Aerospace.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

The J-Car was subject to much experimentation with body shapes and even crash testing after Ken Miles had been killed in a freak accident testing a J-Car. By 1967 Ford had four of the new Mark IV’s ready for the Le Mans 24 hours powered by 7 litre / 427 cui motors.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

According to Dan Gurney the Mark IV’s were fitted with suspension shims to ensure they passed the scrutineers / tech inspectors minimum ride height test held in the middle of town, these shims then “fell off” on the way back to the race track to ensure the Fords had some aerodynamic stability when they hit 200 plus mph on the 4 mile Mulsanne straight.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

Dan Gurney set the winning car up then he and Le Mans rookie AJ Foyt then set about winning the race, during the middle of the night Dan over slept forcing AJ to do a double stint behind the wheel but other than that their car had no problems on it’s way to a four lap victory over the Ferrari P4 of Ludovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes. The sister Shelby run Goodyear shod car of Bruce McLaren and Mark Donohue came forth behind another Ferrari P4 after loosing time with a tale piece that was ripped off.

Ford Mark IV, Goodwood Festival of Speed

On the podium Dan Gurney started a tradition of shaking up the winners bottle and spraying champagne all over the gathered revelers which has been repeated by race winners around the world countless times since. The day after the race the Mark IV’s were effectively banned from racing in 1968 and Ford withdrew from any further factory participation on the spot.

Ferrari ended up winning the World Sports Car Championship in 1967 but it hardly mattered since everyone remembers who won the signature event of the series the Le Mans 24 hour race.

The car driven by Gurney was different from the three other Mark IV’s in the race because to accommodate Dan’s 6’3″ frame a blister was built into the roof and the seat was lowered. After the race all four Mark IV’s, the two Firestone shod cars run by Holman Moody had crashed out, returned to the States were overhauled and all four painted to look like the winner complete with a blister in the roof.

The winning car chassis #J5 has been kept at the Ford Museum however I am led to believe this is the same car that appeared at Goodwood last year, but I maintain an open mind since Ford sold chassis #J6 to New York collector James Glickenhaus believing they had sold him the 1967 winning car until closer inspection revealed otherwise.

Thanks for joining me on this “Shimmying Past Scrutineers” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow. Don’t forget to come back now !

PS Don’t miss my Canadian Grand Prix opinions at Motorsports Unplugged.


Development Hack – Ford GT Prototype #GT/105

The Ford GT Le Mans programme, fueled by Enzo Ferrari’s last minuet snub and refusal to go through with a take over by Henry Ford II, began with a partnership between Ford and Lola. Eric Broadley disagreed with Ford over the use of steel in the construction of the chassis and so the partnership disolved leaving Ford to set up Ford Advanced Vehicles on the same Slough Trading Estate that Lola were operating from.

Ford GT, Goodwood Revival

Chassis #GT/105, seen here at Goodwood, was one of the 12 Ford GT’s manufactured by Ford Advanced Vehicles in 1964, it differs form the earliest examples having built from lighter 22 gauge steel as opposed to the 24 gauge used in the earliest Ford GT’s.

This car was only entered for one race in 1964, the Rheims 12 Hours, where it ran, carrying the #6 on wire wheels, with Richard Attwood and Jo Schlesser qualifying 6th and retiring with transmission problems.

Primarily #GT105 was used for extensive testing as Ford sort to turn the comparatively lumpy beast, compared to the cars used by Ferrari at the time, into a Le Mans contender by spending millions of dollars on optimising every component for durability.

While weight was saved using thinner gauge steel this car was raced with the heavier more powerful 4.7 litre 289 cui iron block Fairlane derived Cobra motor in place of the 4.2 litre 218 cui alloy block Indy derived motor which was originally used on the Ford GT project.

For 1965 development of the Ford GT40 project was moved from Ford Advanced Vehicles to Dearborn where Roger Lunn and his team worked at Kar Kraft on the design of the Mk II version and to Shelby American for race development where the 4.7 litre Cobra motors were prepared and installed, the wire wheels swapped for cast alloys and eventually the Colotti 4 speed gearboxes swapped for ZF 5 speed units.

Team Manager John Wyer remained in Slough where he oversaw the production of the Ford GT based road car project the Ford GT Mk III.

In between private testing chassis #GT/105 was raced at the Le Mans Test weekend in 1965 during which Richard Attwood, John Whitmore amd Maurice Trintignant managed third best time overall behind two Ferrari’s.

In 1966 chassis #GT/105 driven by Peter Sutcliffe and Bob Grossman qualified 19th for the Daytona 24 hours coming home 14th and first in class. At Sebring the same year Innes Ireland and Peter Sutcliffe qualified #GT/105 20th but retired with a blown head gasket.

#GT/105 today belongs to irregular Britcar competitor Richard Meins who is seen at the wheel here. Note the car appears to be fitted with a Mk II nose that has had the bottom edge cut away beneath the radiator, presumably in order to maintain aerodynamic stability and aid cooling.

Thanks for joining me on this “Development Hack” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be featuring a little remembered racing Lotus Esprit. Don’t forget to come back now !