Inspired by Ford's ’66 Daytona Win
Ford Performance unveils new Ford GT Heritage Edition inspired by the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental, a stylish Frozen White with exposed carbon fiber and Race Red livery that pays homage to the 55th anniversary of the epic race where Ford achieved its first 24-hour endurance win
Exclusive Ford GT Studio Collection offers even more exclusivity with unique and widely customizable design features in a limited-availability package for only 40 Ford GT supercars slated for production across the 2021 and 2022 model years
New 2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition and Studio Collection are the pinnacle of Petersen Car Week, which started airing Wednesday on the Petersen Museum’s YouTube channel; highlights include several virtual events featuring 25 hours of original content from manufacturers and enthusiasts, plus automotive lifestyle and auction house activities
A sparsely worded news release issued on May 22, 1963, noted, “Ford Motor Company and Ferrari wish to indicate, with reference to recent reports of their negotiations toward a possible collaboration, that such negotiations have been suspended by mutual agreement.”
The flurry of negotiations between the companies had ended. Ford’s desire to become a player in performance motorsports remained strong. A month later, the High Performance and Special Models Operation Unit was formed with the mission to design and build “a racing GT car that will have the potential to compete successfully in major road races such as Sebring and Le Mans.” The unit’s resulting work, the GT Program book, circulated internally on June 12 and contained the initial design concepts for the GT40.
Three years passed before the Ford Performance team and Shelby Automotive were able to fulfill Henry Ford II’s goal to beat Ferrari at Le Mans. Those three years were filled with hard work and more than a little failure. The 1966 24-hour endurance race in Daytona proved to be the coming-out party for the GT40 Mark II, a car that went on to become an endurance racing legend.
But first the disappointments.
As designed and built in 1963-1964, the Ford GT40s were undoubtedly fast. But endurance was an issue in every race they entered. The suspension let loose in Nuremburg. Despite leading a portion of the race at Le Mans - with driver Phil Hill setting a lap record - the Colotti gearboxes gave out under the strain of the speed and number of shifts required to complete the loop. All three Ford cars were out of the race 12 hours into the required 24. Further disappointments culminated in a disastrous showing in Nassau in December that left the program in shambles. The decision was made in Dearborn to move the work back to the United States, with Carroll Shelby given operational control and Roy Lunn engineering control.
When the remaining cars arrived at Shelby’s Los Angeles workshop in December, Ken Miles, Shelby’s developmental driver, got to work on them. Miles discovered that the initial design settings had been lost. When he reset the suspension to the original settings, performance increased substantially. The team tested aerodynamics using a Ford Aeroneutronics-installed computer, as well as with the old- school method of taping yarn to the vehicles on both the track and in the wind tunnel. The team soon discovered that the airflow was worse than imagined. They gained up to 79 horsepower as Shelby America engineer Phil Remington rearranged ducting to change airflow. Additional changes included lighter-weight fiberglass to replace heavier aluminum and steel, wider magnesium wheels, and a hundred other modifications. Suddenly, the GT40 not only looked like a racing car, it performed like one.
The first event of the year was the 12-hour race in Daytona, and for the first time, the Fords completed an endurance race taking first and third, with a Shelby Cobra (running a Ford engine) sandwiched in between. The 1965 season was off to a good start. After a second-place showing at Sebring, the cars were shipped to France for testing at Le Mans during the time trial weekend in April. The Ferraris dominated the time trials, while the Ford team scrambled to make modifications to the cars, experimenting with different engines and gearboxes.
Back in Dearborn, Roy Lunn and his team had a new version of the GT40 ready for testing. Ford had been working to develop and perfect a 7-liter 427-cubic-inch engine. Lunn and his team worked an engineering marvel to outfit the mid-engine vehicle with the large engine while retaining aerodynamic integrity. Miles and Remington flew from Le Mans to Dearborn to test the car at the Romeo track. Just before lunch, Miles took over the development driving, spoilers were added and modified, and speeds increased until Miles hit 210 mph on a straightaway. When Lunn asked for opinions, Miles said, “That is the car I want to drive at Le Mans this year.”
With only four weeks until the race, the team prepared two of the cars with the 427 engine (called the GT40X) and the others with the existing 289 engines that were already racing in Europe. During the practice laps, the 427 set the lap record at 3:33, almost five seconds faster than the Ferraris. Miles’ wish was granted when he and Bruce McLaren teamed up to drive one of the GT40X cars. Despite setting the lap record, the race was an unmitigated disaster. Preparing the cars on such a short timetable led to costly mistakes, and none of the Ford factory cars even completed the first half of the race.
Ford made the strategic decision to focus its energy on perfecting a car with a 427 engine. Ford Engineering, Shelby American and Holman & Moody joined forces to fully develop the 427 GT40. Hill and Miles continued to race and modify the car, and by mid-September had made enough changes to the body, suspension, fuel system, and brakes that the new model, now designated the Mark II, was ready for wind tunnel testing. One of the changes called for using a heavier gauge metal, which increased weight and stress on the brakes. Miles continued testing a short-nosed body style, which added eight mph to the car. The team finally felt they had a winning car, although the brakes and gearbox remained concerns. Interestingly, the Mark II only used a four-speed manual transmission, as the bigger engine put out so much torque that a five-speed gear box was considered unnecessary.
The initial race of the year was at Daytona, which was increased from 12 hours to 24 hours. The unusually cold day, even for February, brought with it frost warnings. Ford fielded five teams, three under Shelby and two under Holman & Moody, including one with an experimental automatic transmission. Ferrari did not enter any of its factory cars but was represented by several cars under its North American Racing Team. The Ford vs. Ferrari challenge was in the air. The GT40 Mark II was the class of the race, claiming four of the top five places. The No. 98 car driven by Miles and Lloyd Ruby led from the beginning and was easily the winner with an eight-lap cushion. The countless hours Miles had spent with the GT40 Mark II paid off with Ford’s first 24-hour endurance victory. Miles continued his road testing on the chassis of that winning car, P1015, and drove it again at Le Mans in 1966 with Denny Hulme as his co-driver.
The Daytona victory set the stage for the battle in France, when the GT40 Mark II raceddown Ferrari for the first time in Europe with a 1-2-3 sweep at Le Mans.
The Ford GT is America’s only Le Mans-winning supercar, and taking this pinnacle of Ford Performance even further for 2021, Ford is revealing two new enhancements today – the first-ever Heritage Edition inspired by the original model’s first endurance win at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental race, plus an all-new Studio Collection package offers even more exclusivity and design enhancements.
“For this Heritage Edition, the Ford Performance team went deeper into the Ford GT’s race history and crafted a limited- edition model that stylistically honors the 55th anniversary of the Daytona 24 Hour endurance race that would eventually lead to our successes at Le Mans,” said Mike Severson, Ford GT program manager. “Plus, for customers who want to highlight the carbon-fiber body and functional cooling ducts that help deliver Le Mans-winning performance, the Ford GT Studio Collection offers another new way GT fans can personalize their supercars.”
The announcement of two new variants of the Ford GT were the highlights at the conclusion of 2020 Petersen Car Week, which started airing Wednesday on the museum’s YouTube channel. The virtual event featured 25 hours of original content from manufacturers and enthusiasts, along with automotive lifestyle and auction house activities.
The latest Heritage Edition to join the storied Ford GT supercar family is a tribute to the winner of the 1966 Daytona 24 Hour Continental, where Ford achieved its first 24-hour endurance win, which is captured in the 2019 film “Ford v Ferrari” – or “Le Mans ’66,” as it is known in Europe.
Co-drivers Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby led a 1-2-3-5 Ford domination at Daytona, kicking off a magical season for the Ford GT40 MK II, with additional 1-2-3 wins at Sebring and Le Mans. This Heritage Edition is the first to feature a livery famous for a race other than Le Mans.
“Miles and Ruby led nearly every lap of the 24-hour race and outpaced the competition by 30 miles,” said Severson. “The win was the first time anyone had threatened Ferrari’s dominance in sports car racing and represented a turning point in the Ford GT race program.”
Inspired by the bold white, black and red exterior of the 1966 endurance-winning Ford GT40 MK II race car, the new 2021 Ford GT Heritage Edition features Frozen White exterior paint with exposed carbon fiber hood adding stark contrast. Asymmetrical Race Red accents on the front fascia and roof edge, driver’s side door and underneath the rear wing add distinct visuals, while exposed carbon fiber shapes the signature 98 roundel graphics and speak to the supercar’s lightweight body. Unique Ford graphics on the lower rear-quarter panels plus one-piece Heritage Gold 20-inch forged- aluminum wheels paired with red lacquered Brembo monoblock brake calipers complete this new exterior livery.
Inside, the lightweight driver-centric interior features unique appointments including black Alcantara® suede wrapping the instrument panel, headliner and steering wheel rim, while anodized red paddle shifters and red Alcantara suede performance seats add dramatic contrast to the interior.
For customers looking for an even bolder look, an optional Heritage Upgrade Package includes 20-inch exposed carbon fiber wheels with a unique gloss red-painted inner accent barrel, while monoblock brake calipers are lacquered in black and detailed with Brembo lettering in red. Inside, ghosted 98 roundels provide a subtle contrast on both driver and passenger carbon fiber door panels of this this package.
Ford Performance also pulled the wraps off an exclusive series new to the supercar lineup, the Ford GT Studio Collection. This all-new graphics package with customizable colors highlights key styling elements, including the functional cooling ducts that helps the 2021 Ford GT deliver all 660 horsepower during the most strenuous, high-temperature sessions at the track.
Its unique exterior graphics package was born of a design collaboration between Ford Performance and Ford GT manufacturer, Multimatic. It reflects the input of Garen Nicoghosian, Multimatic design head, who has worked on the Ford GT program since its genesis.
“The combination of the stripes and accents invokes the emotion of speed and draws your eye to some of the most prominent features of the GT,” said Nicoghosian. “The fuselage, buttresses and signature features on the headlights provide visual anchors for the graphics, guiding your eye across the vehicle.”
Only 40 cars are slated to receive the Studio Collection package across the 2021 and 2022 model years. The body and graphics can be customized with seven standard colors or further personalized with an extended palette offering endless color combinations for even greater exclusivity.
Deliveries of the 2021 model year Ford GT begin in early 2021, with Ford GT production wrapping up in 2022.