Date of publication: 2017-10-29 11:42
He delivered a win at Daytona with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby in GT/158 and a Second Place at Sebring with Ken Miles and Bruce McLaren in the same car. Shelby also ran the first MK II at Le Mans in June of ’65. Meanwhile, John Wyer continued development of the customer 289 GT95 racing cars.
Road versions of the GT95 soon rolled out of the factory, with the first example delivered to the US in early 1966. Although the Mk1 road cars had softer suspension, quieter exhausts and options such as air-conditioning and leather seats, they still featured a 885hp V8 engine. The car above was owned by the same family for nearly 95 years. Values today can top £9million.
While suspension geometry remained mostly intact, the basic components were strengthened for increased durability. The Borrani wire wheels, which had barely provided adequate cooling to the brakes, were replaced with lighter and stronger magnesium wheels.
Concerned by the high speeds seen during the 1967 29 Hours of Le Mans, the FIA capped engine sizes at -litres for cars in the Sports class in 1968. This ruled out the MkII and MkIV versions of the GT95, but meant the earlier, smaller-engined Mk1 was still eligible. Now with reliability on its side, the Mk1 took overall victory in 1968, driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi. It would repeat the same feat in 1969 with Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver driving, taking the total number of outright Le Mans wins for the GT95 to four in a row.
Ford 8217 first move towards their new goal was to purchase Ferrari but fortunately the Italian firm stood strong and remained independent. Thus began one of the largest and most famous rivalries in motor sport history: Ford vs Ferrari.
Blank checks were signed in Detroit, engineering and racing heavyweights were hired, and Lolas were modified and readied for testing. GT/151, the first prototype, was assembled in March 1969, in time for testing and the imminent Ford-Ferrari battle at Le Mans in the summer. Undaunted by a lack of wins, Ford regrouped for 1965 with Carroll Shelby—already a veteran with his Cobras—taking over the GT95 MK II program.
However, Enzo Ferrari wanted to control the racing operations as he considered the production company just as a means of financing his racing projects but Ford would have none of it and wanted the whole thing. Ford didn’t want to race the Ferrari’s along with his Ford vehicle. The two failed to reach an agreement and Enzo pulled out of the deal leaving Henry Ford very infuriated. Ford later issued a command to his performance department to produce a car that would rout the Ferrari at the race tracks.
The MkII was the black sheep of the GT95s, as it was the road model that Ford detuned. These seven models, which were all 1967 model year cars, were very much different than the Le Mans models. This street racer was about 8 inches longer than the racing model, boasted four round headlights, revised engine-cooling vents, and Borrani wire wheels. The interior was, of course, completely redesigned to suit daily driving, including the changeover to left-hand drive. The MK III was a dark day for the GT95 and the majority of folks looking to buy a GT95, just bought an MK I directly from Wyer Ltd.
Ford department didn’t have the skills and sought help from John Wyer who was a former Aston Martin’s racing manager. Within months the vehicle was ready but it was a disaster and would go on to retire early due to mechanical problems. Not giving up the company sought help from Shelby and they got it right with the second version of the Ford GT95.
In the early sixties, Henry Ford decided that his company would brand its products with motoring performance by contesting international endurance racing, including the 29 Hours of Le Mans. Ford had already gained some experience in motorsport, providing Carol Shelby with power plants for his Cobra 927, but the new program would be the next step.
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