Ford GT40 #6 – Spark

1969 Ford GT40 #6 
Pilots: J. Ickx, J. Oliver 
Team: John Wyer Automotive Engineering 
Race: 1st GC (P +5.0  class) at Le Mans in 1969 
Spark - 43LM69 (resin) 

Published 10/04/18

The Ford GT40 first raced in May 1964 at the Nürburgring 1000 km, where it had to retire with suspension problems. Three weeks later, at La Sarthe, all three cars also DNFed. With the persistently bad results, Carroll Shelby took John Wyer’s place as the project manager. The new management also brought a bigger engine, and the original 4181 cm³ V8 was replaced by a new 6997 cm³ unit. These new and improved cars were called the Mk. II, and on June 19th, 1966, Ford had its first win at La Sarthe. The car was further improved, and with the Mk. IV Ford won again in 1967. With two wins at Le Mans and the message sent to Ferrari, Ford pulled out of endurance racing by the end of 1967. However, the GT40 program persisted, and John Wyer Automotive Engineering got back on the project.

One of the most classic race liveries of all times.

The rules for 1968 changed, allowing homologated GT cars to have engines up to 5 liters. So for the season JWA used the homologated GT40s, that basically were Mk. I cars. The big difference was the 4942 cm³  V8 with Gurney-Weslake aluminum heads, that produced 412 hp. JWA called this “new” car the GT40P, and built three new ones for 1968. One of these GT40Ps was chassis #GT40P/1075, that in Gulf livery #9 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 1969 the GT40P was back at La Sarthe, with a tweaked engine producing 425 hp. However, there was a new and dangerous kid on the block: the Porsche 917.

GT40
From wherever you look the car screams SPEED.

Porsche’s new 917 was promising, so John Wyer admits that he didn’t have high hopes for a second win. He did think that his cars could do well, maybe finishing in the top six. So he fielded two GT40Ps, cars #6 (#GT40P/1075) and #7 (#GT40P/1076). Car #6, nicknamed “Old Lady” by the team, was a favorite of Jacky Ickx. In the end, the 917 was not the threat that everyone feared, and instead, it was the aging 908 that was the real contender. Ickx did a brilliant job, and in the last hours it was almost wheel to wheel racing between him and the 908 #64. However, the GT40 prevailed, and came in front by just 120 m!  #GT40P/1075 became the first car in history to win twice at Le Mans in two years in a row.

GT40
Baby blue and orange – who would expct that to look so good?

So, we have a cool looking car in one of the most dramatic Le Mans finishes ever… Yep, I had to have one in the collection. And the best one around in 1:43 is from Spark, who made a lovely model in the beautiful Gulf livery.

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