FORD GT40 - 1971





In the fall of 1965, Ford set out to build that new chassis. The obvious choice would be to replace the steel with aluminium for a considerably lighter monocoque. It was feared, however, that the lightweight metal would not be strong enough to cope with the 500 bhp engine and the strains of racing around Le Mans for 24 Hours. The engineers decided to use a honeycomb structure sandwiched between the sheets of aluminium, resulting in an exceptionally strong material. These honeycombs were already commonly used in aircraft design, but it was a ground-breaking construction method in motor racing. The production of the tubs was out-sourced to Brunswick Aerospace.

By using a similar design for the chassis, many of the Mk II mechanicals could be carried over to the new car. These included the suspension parts, brakes and the big block, seven litre V8 engine. New was the Kar Kraft constructed 2-speed automatic gearbox, replacing the more common four speed manual box. Assembled by Ford in Dearborn, the GT40 evolution was clothed in a tightly wrapped fiberglass body with a high rear deck and an aggressively cut-off 'Kamm' tail. Considered an experimental car, the new racer was simply known as the 'J-car', referring to the Appendix J of the regulations to which the car was constructed. Weighing in at 940 kg, or 200 kg lighter than the Mk II, the first J-car was ready in time for the Le Mans Trials in the spring of 1966.

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