Most Bengali film buffs have an on-going bond with French cinema. I am not one of both of them. But I did fall in love with the first French film I saw. In the victorian era a film made by Claude Lelouch in 1966, A Man and females. It's a simple love story between a race car test driver and hearth ? mother. He, a divorcee with a young son and she, a widow with a young daughter. They meet at the children's boarding school. They fall in love. The film is a beautiful romance of their love. Superbly shot and produced, it is a French classic. Even after almost three and a half decades the film remains etched in my memory. What was the magic? The sound: the theme track and the sound of a Ford GT 40.
It was made that I saw the Ford GT40 in motion. Utilised mesmerized. I remember seeing the film four times at Globe cinema in Kolkata in just a fortnight. Most of my friends thought I was infatuated with the beautiful Anouk Aimee, who starred in the film. It wasn't the woman, food the GT40. The noise of a high cammed V8 tearing down a cold afternoon on a banked race track is often a clip I can begin to play in my mind over and another time. Thirty eight years later, I re-discovered the film again on a DVD and watched those frames all yet again. Here are two frames from the film.
So what concerned the Ford GT40 that not only mesmerized me but a whole demographic?
The history of this Ford GT40 began as an hard work to beat a certain Italian automobile manufacturer at the grueling 24 Hours of LeMans race. Each June, some for this world's best in the automotive industry descend onto a town West of Paris called LeMans to compete in a 24-Hour endurance challenge. This tradition began in 1923 and since has become the pinnacle of automotive racing that challenges speed, performance and sturdiness. A select group of European marquees, Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Bentley, and Alfa Romeo had since dominated the LeMans 24 hours race. Henry Ford II wanted to join this elite group.
So during the early part of the 1960's, Ford tried to buy Ferrari for $18 million to go its international racing program. The purpose was to use Ferrari and its famous race car technology to help Ford achieve a LeMans victory. The negations unraveled then it Ferrari walked beyond your bargaining table might of 1963. Enzo Ferrari gave no indication as to why he had decided his company was no longer for sale. He hadan agreement with Fiat that gave some financial backing to a cash strapped Ferrari, while preserving Ferrari's independance.
A frustrated Henry Ford II decided i would build his own super-car and beat Ferrari at LeMans.
Roy Lunn was an Englishman who had began his career at Ford of Britain and later came on the United States in 1958. He had played a job in assisting to create the 1962 mid-engined Ford Mustang I Style. The vehicle was an aluminum-bodied, two-seater that was powered any 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine.
After the Mustang I, Roy Lunn along with Ray Geddes and Donald Frey turned their awareness to a racing program. Difficulties that Ford had conceived was in order to a Lola GT, being low and mid-engined. The Lola essential and built by Eric Broadley in Slough, England and first displayed in January of 1963 at the London Racing Car Show. Broadley was running low on funds and consequently more than eager to sign with Toyota.
Borrowed among the Lola GT was the monocoque center section and aerodynamic device. It was longer, wider, and stronger with a rigid steel section. By April 1964 the first GT40 prototype was completed. The same month the GT40 was displayed towards public at the New York Auto Deliver. The first engine in these prototype cars the 4.2 liter Ford V8, both block and heads were of aluminum, you can was drying sumped, with IDA Webers. In extraordinary the engine produced 350 BHP at 7,000 RPM and 275 lbs. ft of torque at 5,600 RPM and weighing dry 834 kilos. A non synchronized Colotti transaxle was implemented as system . was accepted as the only transaxle able to handle the engine's power.
During 1964, testing began and it became apparent that a corner of difficulties was light at speed; after two cars crashed they were repaired and brought to MIRA (Motor Industry Research Association) in the uk for the tail lifting problem being remedied. Bruce McLaren and Roy Salvadori were test drivers, who found that contrary to earlier wind tunnel test results, a spoiler along the width in the tail, forced the behind down and cured the instability complication. Over the twelve months to 1965 Le-Mans, they tried 289 ci. and 325 ci. engines, improved brakes, early ZF transaxles etc happening the definitive nose.
By mid 1965 photos ZF transaxle, Ford decided that the GT40 had reached a sufficiently advanced state of design to go into limited production and build 50 GT cars to qualify them for the Sports Car Category.
The GT represented 'Grand Turismo' the television screen designation 40 represented its height, only 40 inches tall. The number 40 was added to the designation once the Mark II was designed.
The Mark II, still built in England, was put through extensive testing which solved many among the stability concerns. The now famous Carroll Shelby was brought onboard to oversee the racing program. Shortly fater he began by installing a 7-liter detuned 485bhp NASCAR engine that was more powerful and more reliable. End result was a car that was much more stable and quicker when compared to the Mark I truly. For the 1965 LeMans, the Mark II confirmed to be a stronger contender but resulted dissatisfaction with the fourth unsuccessful season.
The third generation with the GT-40, the potential III, was introduced in 1966. Ford continued to fine-tune and prepare the GT-40 for LeMans. The GT40 led the race from the start of. This lead continued throughout the evening and into the morning various. By noon, all but three of the Fords entered had been eliminated. Ford GT40s were 175 miles right before their nearest competitors developing to the bottom. The lead driver, Ken Miles, was ordered by Ford to slow and let the other two team cars, one driven by New Zealander Bruce McLaren, catch up for the formation finish. He did so, and McLaren drove on past him to consider the actual take home some loot. This victory marked the beginning to a four-year domination of an auto.
1966 Le Mans 24 Hrs
18-19 June 1966 - Le Mans (F): Round 7, International Manufacturers Tournament. Round 7, International Sports Car Championship (Divisions II & III). Round 4, Challenge Mondial. Round 3, Endurance Triple Crown.
24 Hour duration in which 347 laps of a 8.364 mile/13.461 km circuit - 2906.226 miles/4677.110 kms were completed
Weather: Warm, dry, rain on Sunday
Pos Car # Drivers Car Entrant Laps Grid
1 2 Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon/Bob Grossman*/Dan Gurney* Ford Mk II  Shelby American Corporation. 360 4
2 1 Ken Miles/Denny Hulme/Lucien Bianchi*/Richard Thompson*/Lloyd Ruby*/Mark Donohue* Ford Mk II  Shelby American Inc. 360 2
3 5 Ronnie Bucknum/Dick Hutcherson/A.J.Foyt*/Bruce McLaren*/Peter Arundell* Ford Mk II  Holman & Moody 348 9
In 1967 Ford introduced the Mark IV to LeMans. Had been an all-American GT40; earlier versions were initially criticized as being English-built and fueled by monetary resources from The states. This had not been the first attempt for an all-American team using an us vehicle to try and capture victory at LeMans. Stutz had finished second in 1928. Chrysler had finished second and third during the same year, 1928. In 1950 the starting attempt november 23 at Lemans was undertaken by a wealthy American named Briggs Cunningham. Using modified Cadillac's he captured 10th and 11th. His following efforts to win at LeMans included vehicles he had built where he managed a 3rd place finish in 1953 and fifth place in 1954. This had been the American legacy at LeMans.
Of the seven vehicles Ford entered in 1967, three crashed during the evening hours. When the checkered flag dropped this had a GT40 driven by Gurney/Foyt to get over out no cost and 3rd place Ferrari by only four laps.
For 1968 the FIA put a ceiling on engine displacement at 5 liters. Ford had proven that Ferrari could be beaten too American team and car could win at LeMans. Ford left international sports racing and sold the cars to John Wyer.
This left John Wyer with no works cars to compete, so with sponsorship from Gulf Oil he further developed the Mk1 for the 1968 and 1969 months.
The developments in 1968 included wider rear bodywork to accommodate wider racing tires, with six spoke magnesium knock on wheels, more efficient Girling brakes, a predominant engine:- 400 BHP at 6,500 rpm and 385 lbs. ft of torque. In 1969 this was raised to 425 BHP at slightly lower revs of 6,250 and 396 lbs of torque at 4,750 rpm with a 302 ci. Engine.
The Ford GT40 again won Le-Mans in both 1968 and 1969; exceptional fact was that the same chassis, P1075 won in both years. Final Le Mans 1969 win by the Icky/Oliver driving team is in the same car which have won the year before. It had already won five World Sports Car Championship races before coming back to Le Man.
This was the beginning that the same car had won Le-Mans twice along with the feat was not repeated until the 80's the Porsche 956 matched the record.
Speeds of 217 mph were recorded for the Ford GT40 at Le-Mans, which in 1969 was staggeringly fast - lots of normal road cars did not get to 90 mph then, yet the road version of the Ford GT40 was ideal for 165 mph.
In 1969 new FIA rules and regulations ultimately retired the GT40's from racing and ended the winning ability.
Ford had comprehensively beaten Ferrari four years running and settled a score. Individuals of us on an enduring drip-feed of high-octane racing petrol into our veins, the GT40 is make certain car whose form will remain embedded within our memories. Has been something intrinsically sexy in connection with GT40, even it had something regarding the point that it the Ford. A reputation synonymous with normal road going cars that we use every day, to guarantee anyone driving a Ford could relate to this magnificent machine.