Ford GT40 #9 – Spark (pw)

GT40 #9
1968 Ford GT40 #9
Pilots: P. Rodriguez, L. Bianchi
Team: John Wyer Automotive Engineering Ltd.
Race: 1st overall (S 5.0 class) at Le Mans in 1968
Spark (pw) - HACHLM04 (diecast)

Published 06/29/21

In 1963 Henry Ford II set his mind to beat Ferrari. Well, in fact he probably wanted to humiliate Ferrari. Therefore, the Ford Motor Company started the Ford GT program at the end of 1963. Things didn’t start out very smoothly, however by 1966 they had a winner, the Ford GT40. The GT40 Mk. II won Le Mans in 1966, and came in second and third places. Just to prove that it was not a fluke, a Ford GT40 Mk. IV won again in 1967. Hence, Henry Ford II had his revenge for Enzo Ferrari walking out on his deal to buy Ferrari back in 1963. With the two victories, Ford lost interest in endurance racing and called it a day. By the end of the year they closed shop and sold all their GT40 inventory. Furthermore, FIA changed the rules, issuing an engine cap of five liters for 1968.

GT40 #9
Here you can see a 30 minutes period video of the 1968 race.

Despite Ford pulling out of international competitions, that was not the end of the GT40. John Wyer Automotive Engineering bought all of Ford’s GT40 inventory in 1967. A GT40 could be FIA-legal in the Sportscar Class if it had a 5-liter engine, and that’s what Wyer did. They replaced the big 7-liter unit of the Mk. II and IV for a 4942 cm³ V8. Just as importantly, they used a Gurney-Weslake aluminum head and improved head gaskets. Though less powerful (412 hp) it was a very reliable engine. They also modified the original chassis, and called this “new” car the GT40 P. In essence, the GT40 P was very similar to the first GT40. John Wyer produced two GT40 P, and debuted them at the 1968 Daytona 24 Hours. However, both failed to finish the race. For the next race, the Sebring 12 Hours, the results were equally bad.

The “small block” engine of the GT40 P was less powerful but more reliable.

Due to a French civic crisis in the summer of 1968, Le Mans was postponed to September 28-29. Nevertheless, despite bad results and political unrest, the JWA team arrived at La Sarthe with two cars. With sponsorship by Gulf Oil, chassis #P/1074 sported #10 and #P/1075 carried #9. Paul Hawkins and David Hobbs piloted #10 while Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi drove #9. The JWA cars didn’t start out great, in fourth (#9) and sixth (#10) in the grid. However, Rodriguez and Bianchi drove a flawless race, and car #9 held the lead for 17 of the 24 hours. With that, GT40 #9 finished in first place, comfortably five laps ahead of the second place Porsche 907. John Wyer returned to La Sarthe the following year with two cars once again. And chassis #P/1075, this time sporting #6, won again.

GT40 #9 + GT40 #6 – an impossible shot. I seriously need the 1967 Mk. IV #1 winner.

So, one of Spark’s pw models… Being honest, I wasn’t exactly certain about this one. I have been after the resin version for 18 months but those are going for stupid money. Another option would be Ixo’s version, which is plentiful and cheap. Nonetheless, I feel it’s subpar – the molded-on windscreen wipers kill the model for me. So I rolled the dice and ordered the Spark pw. First thing you notice is that this doesn’t have a perforated grill on the rear deck. Furthermore, quite a few details are molded on and not crisp. With that, I can’t say this GT40 #9 is one of the good Spark pw on my list. Hence, adding everything up, if you can’t get the resin version this is an iffy alternative. It may be better than the Ixo, nevertheless if possible I will upgrade to the resin one 😣.

Yes, you read right: I want to upgrade a model not even a week after I said you should avoid upgrading because upgrading is stupid. In my defense I wasn’t sure what I would get, so I could say this was a mistake.

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