Ford has unearthed early design sketches of its Ferrari-beating GT40

Ford’s performance division has unearthed early sketches of the original GT40 race car, drawn 57 years ago. The design led to the car that beat Ferrari at Le Mans, placing first overall in the 24-hour endurance race four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969. 

The sketches were found by archivists perusing negatives. Three of them depict an early concept of the GT40’s exterior design; the fourth is a cut-away that shows elements of the GT40’s frame and suspension components. 

The exterior sketches show heavily influence from the futuristic road car designs of the 1960s. It’s very sleek and, dare we say it, vaguely Italian. The front 3/4 view especially reveals the iconic shape of exotic mid-engine sports cars of the 1960s and 1970s. 

In profile, the sketch almost resembles a fighter jet fuselage, with obvious nods to contemporary theories of aerodynamics. The nose looks almost like the leading edge of an airplane wing, and that shape is repeated in the rear fender line.

This side-on look also gives us a glimpse of some sort of cooler element in the dramatic rear scoop that doesn’t appear in either of the other two sketches, but does appear on the clay model above, which Ford also shared in the same Twitter thread. 

Perhaps the most fascinating sketch is the 3/4 cutaway view, which shows the GT40’s front and rear suspension, engine, battery, and even the spare tire. The latter two are depicted in the GT40’s front end, far away from the powertrain for a better balance. 

Ford archivists have shared other gems from the same period recently, including the earliest sketches of what would become the Mustang by designer Gale Halderman, who passed away in late April. 

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