Home Racing the Ford GT 40 The 1966 GT 40 MKII – the 427 Cars

The 1966 GT 40 MKII – the 427 Cars

Racing with Shelby AmericanKen Miles
1964 The Beginning Part 1MkII – 1966 the 427 Part 3
1965 Shelby Takes Over Part 2 1967-68-69 Part 4

Ford regrouped by the ’66 racing season and was even more determined to win in Europe. The big block was definitely the way to do it. A decision was made to enter three teams, under the assumption that three cars were the most any one team could handle successfully. In addition to Shelby American, Ford enlisted the help of big block stock car winners, Holman & Moody, and Alan Mann. Ford’s Kar Kraft tested all the 427 engines and drive trains for reliability.

Mk II GT40 was converted to an open roadster. It was given to Bruce McLaren for further development. The 427 powered car was entered in the `66 Sebring race and Ken Miles drove it to first place. An interesting story is told about Dan Gurney in that race. Gurney had qualified for pole position in a Mk II. At the start of the race, Gurney was the first one to sprint to his car, only to find his GT40 wouldn’t start. The rest of the 64 cars had gotten away and were out of sight before he got the big block started. By lap 10, Gurney had passed 54 cars to take 10th place. By the first hour he had set a new lap record and moved past Ken Miles to lead the race. Gurney & co-driver Grant held 1st place until the very last lap. Only 1/4 mile from the finish the GT40 quit! Gurney got out and pushed the car across the line only to be disqualified. If he had stayed in the car, he would’ve gotten 2nd.

Ford sponsored eight GT40’s in the 1966 LeMans. Mann had -2, Shelby-3 and Holman & Moody-3. Also in the race were 5 privately owned GT40’s. By the end of the race, only three were still running. But two of Shelby’s finished 1st & 2nd, and Holman & Moody’s sole surviving GT40 took 3rd. After three long frustrating years, Ford had finally won at LeMans. Ford also won the `66 World Prototype Trophy and World’s Sports Car Championship. The Europeans called it a fluke. Ford was determined to prove it wasn’t.

At the ’66 LeMans a new GT40 body was tested. Dubbed the “bread wagon” because the rear didn’t slop towards the back of the car, the body was constructed of an aluminum honeycomb glued together. The Mk IV set the fastest lap ending all doubts. Four more Mk IVs were built by Kar Kraft for the ’67 LeMans. This was the first GT40 body to be built entirely in the US. During testing at Riverside, Ken Miles was killed when his Mk IV crashed for no reason, costing Shelby another old friend and his top development driver. Miles death slowed the Mk IV project until the Mk IIs started having transaxles problems at the ’67 Daytona race. Once again Shelby’s team was called in the get the Mk IVs ready for LeMans. In less than a month, Shelby’s team had the Mk IV running faster the Mk IIs. One MK IV was entered at Sebring and it came in first. By LeMans, seven Mk IVs were ready. Shelby was given 2 Mk IVs & 1 Mk IIHolman & Moody had the remaining 2 Mk IVs and 2 Mk IIs. First & 4th place went to Shelby’s GT40’s.