The Ford GT40 history starts after Ford failed to acquire Ferrari, when angered Henry Ford II stated that he 'wanted to win Le Mans in 1966'. In order to achieve this goal Ford Advanced Vehicles has be formed with the task of creating a cutting-edge GT car - a highly aerodynamic mid-engine coupe built around the 1963 Indianapolis 4.2 liter engine. First prototypes of the car were launched in April 1964 and named GT40 due to the fact the car was 40 inches high. Three Ford GT40s compete at the 1964 Le Mans and despite the fact that none of them finished the race a new race lap record was set of 3:49.4 (131.7 mph).
In 1965 Carroll Shelby's Shelby-American took over the project and some major changes had been made. Most significant the engine was replaced by the Shelby Cobra derived 4.7-litre 289 cubic inch V-8 developing 385bhp. Colotti straight-cut gears were replaced with Ford helical gears, improvements were made to the clutch, drive shaft and the fuel feed system. Much attention was also paid to improve cooling and aerodynamics. The enhanced Ford GT40 made it's debut in the Daytona Continental Race in February 1965 taking first and third place. Unfortunately none of the cars managed to complete the Le Mans the year.
By mid-1965 Ford GT40 has reached sufficient level of development to be produced in greater numbers. In order to quality for the Production Sports Car category 50 GT40s were made. Finally in 1966 Ford would celebrate all three podium spots in Le Mans, and dominate the sports car racing world.
The anticipated street-legal version was introduced in 1966 and with a price tag of £7,253 (15x the price of an entry level Ford Anglia) was named 'the most expensive Ford ever'. Only 31 cars were produced.
Source: Wikipedia, 2012; Mecum Auctions as part of the Anaheim event in November, 2014.