1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV #28
This “J-Car” continuation is the culmination of contributions from a broad and talented pool of engineers, historians, fabricators (and dreamers!) in the U.S. over the last 20 plus years. A once in a lifetime project was put together enabling these artists to come together to recreate the most important project in Ford’s racing history. Even the original “skunk-works” company name, Kar-Kraft, Inc., was resurrected by Mike Teske to build this iconic and exacting continuation car.
As most know, during the 1960’s, a high priority was given by Ford to build an aerodynamic, lightweight, (honey comb aluminum) chassis-designed car capable of handling the well developed and powerful 7 liter engine and transaxle in endurance racing. It’s success is well documented by racing historians and culminated by its dominating 1967 LeMans win driven by A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney (J-5 in the Henry Ford Museum).
Fast forward 45 years. J-16 is one of 7 cars re-created in exacting detail of the original 12 MK-IV cars from Kar Kraft. Cars so exact that they were awarded J continuation serial numbers! (J-13 –J-19) Extensive research to duplicate these cars involved using the original blue prints, studying thousands of photos, and consultations with the engineers and designers of the original race winning cars. Additionally, and most importantly, was the choice of the builder….
Enter a gentleman by the name of Kenny Thompson. Kenny has been noted for decades as a premier race car fabricator , winning NASCAR Fabricator of the Year twice with work at the Holman and Moody team. Kenny actually worked on the original cars and is perhaps the only person with the skill set, knowledge and PATIENCE to duplicate these cars to this quality! More than 10 years of actual parts fabrication involved! Last, but not least, no expense was spared by the team of investors and owners that saw this project through from dream to fruition.
In truth, we may never see one of the original MKIV's become available for sale in our lifetime (most will never even SEE a MKIV in person). Very few would have the dozen or more millions that it would take to purchase it. For a FRACTION of the cost, look at the quality and exactness of this FIA certified continuation car that has been featured of Vintage Motorsports Magazine, on the cover of SAAC’s annual edition, as well as listed in the World Registry of Cobras & GT40’s.
A total of twelve GT40 MK-IVs were originally built. Of these, ten cars remain to date of which nine are privately owned and the Le Mans winning car is in the Ford Museum. The MK-IV made its debut in international competition in the 1967 Sebring 12-Hour race, when Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren drove the brand new car to an outright win. Four new MK-IVs were then entered in the 24-Hours of LeMans race. A few weeks later, Henry Ford was at the Sarth Circuit to celebrate an 'All American' victory, with the Ford GT MK-IV co-driven by A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney.
The Ford GT MK-IV was the ultimate Le Mans contender with which Ford entered the 1967 24-Hour race - the culmination of its rumored $100 million race program which resulted in the Ford GT40s winning the famous event four years in a row.
This car, number J-11, began life in 1967 as a back-up chassis for Ford's racing program. Because the F.I.A. outlawed the 7-liter engine after 1967, the MK-IV was no longer qualified for international competition.
The number J-11 is the only GT40 to have run at the Bonneville Salt Flats - it ran at 220 mph and averaged 189 mph over the measured courses in 1996.
"With the promising results attained during testing, Ford debuted the Mark IV GT40, specifically J-4, at Sebring. From the start, J-4 led the race, ahead of Jim Hall's Chapparal 2F. It took victory with McLaren and Andretti behind the wheel. After winning on it's debut race, Ford decided to prepare more Mark IVs for Le Mans, the most important race of the year.
From Concept cars
Public debut of the Ford GT Mk IV program was announced by a news release that described the all-new Ford-Dearborn designed and built car (rather than Ford Advanced Vehicles in Slough, England, builder of all previous Ford GT cars) to campaign in world class racing under FIA Appendix J regulations.
The aluminum J chassis was both lighter and stronger than the previous steel and rivet tub MK II Ford GT that won Le Mans in 1966. Mk IV development was at the behest of Henry Ford II who wanted an all-American win at Le Mans.
First J testing was during March 1966. Twelve J chassis were built. J-5 was the first built as a Mk IV (yellow), winner of the Sebring 12-Hours. J-6 (red) won the Le Mans 24-Hours setting new speed and distance records. Following Le Mans, FIA outlawed engines over 3-liter displacement, and J chassis development shifted to Canadian-American Challenge Cup racing.
Two chassis, J-9 and J-10, were built into open Can-Am form as G7-A cars (Group 7, A=first version). J-9 was completed during August, 1967 with Ford's new Calliope over-under dual internal cam Hemi engine. It was a 3-vlave 7-liter V8 (Three such engines were built, each with slide throttle fuel injection that made response difficult to control) and had an adjustable-dihedral rear wing much like Jim Hall's Chaparrals. It was wind tunnel tested followed by a track shakedown by Mario Andretti, but never raced.
Mario Andretti test drove the first G7-A built, J-9, the development car. J-10 was raced to little success. J-9 and J-10 were sold. The Agapiou brothers then bought it from Ford for $1 in early 1969 with the agreement to return in a year for the same money! It never happened. J-9 was subsequently re-bodied as a Mk IV with 427 'wedge' power.