"The story of the birth of the GT40 is legendary. Henry Ford II, outraged at Enzo Ferrari for pulling out of a deal to sell up his company to the Americans, ordered his engineers to come up with a car "
Ford GT40: The Beauty
Words: Neil Siner
I didn’t have the Scalextric Le Mans 24 hour set, but my mate did. It was on that plastic blacktop in the early 80s that I first fell in love with the Ford GT40.
I guess it would have been a scaled down version of the Mark II that we fought over on those wet Saturday afternoons, the car’s strange mix of macho bulk and curvaceous lines already appealing to our burgeoning maleness.
It can be difficult to pin down the quality that draws us to an object but it’s fair to say that often that quality is a fleeting thing. Not so with the Ford GT40. It is a car that stands outside of time. From the 60’s racetrack to the contemporary road it has an enduring beauty the essence of which, I think, lies in its inception. Being the offspring of transatlantic progenitors the GT40 has that special beauty that is a by product of what geneticists refer to as ‘hybrid vigour’. American power and technology combined with British mechanical design has produced here something truly outstanding.
This was after all a car built from scratch, with the specific job of seeing off Ferraris. It is in its perfect utility and the fulfilment of its function that it finds such an iconic and timeless appeal. So what are these qualities teased out of its hybrid functionality that endow this machine with such beauty? To me they are manifested in the car’s visual contrasts. It is chunky, with super wide sills and deep wheel arches over 15 inch wheels. Yet it is also sleek and low slung, petite almost in its minimal height (the famous 40 inches of its nomenclature).
To my mind, it is in this incongruity of manly power and bulk combined with sensual curves, that the GT40 finds its true and lasting appeal. Like some beautiful automotive dominatrix, it looks like it wants to rough you up and seduce you at the same time.
So maybe it’s just the submissive in me but thirty years or so after we first met on those adolescent afternoons, I’m still in love.
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