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Ford GT 40

Broadcast dates : 20th March 2005
24th March 2005


Ford’s GT40 will forever be known as the car that took on Ferrari at Le Mans and finally beat the Italian stallions at their own game.

Legend has it that Henry Ford the Second made an offer to buy Ferrari in the early 1960s, and when the great Enzo Ferrari refused, Ford decided to build his own racing car, as part of a Total Performance marketing campaign.

Making its debut in 1964, it would take another two seasons before the Ford GT40 would win Le Mans.

These cars are South African replicas of the famous Ford racers, known as Bailey Edwards GT40s, and built on the East Rand by Peter Bailey.

Peter races one of his GT40s, which is so low he needs a bubble in the roof to clear his helmet!

Mike Nel recently took delivery of his blue and orange car. This is painted in the famous Gulf colours, with the race number six of GT40 Chassis Number 1075.

This was the GT40 which won Le Mans twice, in the hands of Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver in 1968 and 1969.

Only a 133 genuine Ford GT40s were built between 1964 and 1967.

It’s said that the car was originally titled a Ford GT, and the full name came from the fact that it was just under forty inches high.

The original GT40s used an aluminium monocoque chassis, but the Bailey replicas are constructed of a steel space frame clad in aluminum to look like the originals.

All the detail components, ducting, piping, tubing, are in their correct places, as close to the originals as possible.

Peter Bailey has built four cars so far and is planning an export programme to the United States.

The term "kit car" does not do any justice to these machines. Every component is hand-fabricated and machined at Bailey’s workshop, and the design work of the suspension, following closely to the original cars, is also his.

There are no scrapyard mix and match parts on this car. It's designed and created as a thoroughbred racer, just like the original cars were.

The attention to detail is endless, with items like the fuel-filler caps and window-latches milled from solid aluminum.

Famous brand names from a famous era. Mike Nel, owner of the Team Gulf replica, even went to the trouble of having all the original racing decals of the 1969 winning car remade for his car.

A Ford GT40 sounds like no other American V8 thanks to its unique snake- park exhaust manifold. One of the attractive aspects of building a Ford GT40 replica is that Ford V8 engines as used in the originals are still available in their thousands.

This engine produces about 475 horsepower, or 356 kiloWatts.

The gearbox used is from a Porsche 944, as these cars used gearboxes mounted at the rear, making it ideal for a mid-engined car.

A car like Peter Bailey’s or Mike Nel’s cost in the region of R500 000, which is a lot of money for what is essentially a club racer. But these cars are street legal, believe it or not, and when run on the road, the racing slicks are simply swapped for treaded street tyres.

When you consider a genuine GT40 is worth at least R6-million today, the Bailey Edwards car seems like a bargain!

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