Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Lola evolved into the GT 40, how that happened

Ford had powered cars at Le Mans since the early ’60s, such as a Marcos in 1962, and even a pair Ford Thunderbirds were provisionally entered in the 1957 edition, though they didn’t race. But with no viable sportscar programme to kickstart their Le Mans plan, new relationships were needed to shortcut the route to success.

Ford powered the Cobra, and also a Lola MkVI GT

After looking at Cooper and Lotus at the beginning of 1963, Ford fixed its eye on Lola: the relationship was cemented with the supply of two MkVIs to the mothership in the US and a transatlantic knowledge exchange. Ex-Aston Martin team manager John Wyer was also brought in to head up the new team: a name that would take Ford to its highest success and make the blue and orange of Gulf Oil perhaps the best-known sportscar livery ever.

Construction of the initial Ford GT began at Lola in the UK, prior to the formation of the dedicated Ford Advance Vehicles. The same 4.2-litre Ford Fairlane engine from the MkVI Lola was transplanted into the new car, and the iconic body began to take shape. This initial variant was narrow and long, though the rear three-quarters and slashed rear aspect are still instantly recognisable. It was called project Grand Touring 40, with the 40 representing the overall height in inches of the car.

It lost miserably to Ferraris in 1964, and wasn't even adequate at high speed, so the car was redesigned and the engine changed to the 7-litre V8 from a Ford Galaxie.

They weren't winning in 1965 either. But anyway, that is how the Lola evolved into the GT 40

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