Gelscoe GT40 – FIA HTP, Test Miles Only

Gelscoe GT40

FIA HTP, Test Miles Only

The Ford GT40 is an unarguable icon. After Henry Ford II wanted to acquire Ferrari, and failed, he set about trying to beat Ferrari at what they did best – racing. The Le Mans 24 Hours held huge clout in measuring manufacturer’s offerings against one another, and the old adage ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ was still ringing true during the mid 1960s. 

Ferrari had been dominant at the La Sarthe circuit, taking six successive victories from 1960 to 1965. Henry Ford II wanted his challenger to feature the company’s small block V8 engine, and he enlisted the help of Lola founder Eric Broadley to design the car in which it would sit. Former Aston-Martin team manager John Wyer was also recruited, and subsequently became head of the Ford Advanced Vehicles operation formed to run the project.

Based in Slough, England, the first car was completed in early 1963. Construction was of steel monocoque chassis made for FAV by Abbey Panels, with fibreglass bodywork and double wishbone suspension front and rear. The 289ci small block Ford V8 was mated initially with a Colotti transaxle, before the ZF DS25-2 transaxle was adopted in its place.  

After a long test program with feedback from some of the most prominent drivers in motorsport of that time, the GT40  began to come good. With Carol Shelby now steering the operation, the GT40’s first victory came at Daytona in February 1965. At Sebring, in March, success continued and the GT40s took first, second and third. 

Henry Ford II was himself present for the 1965 Le Mans 24 Hours, with the promise of a strong performance from the fleet of GT40s. The ambition of victory was realised at the conclusion of the 24 Hours, with the Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon driven entry winning, ahead of the sister car of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme. Ford went on to take victory again in 1967, 1968 and 1969, cementing their place in the history books.

With the rising values of the original cars, Gelscoe Motorsport have set out to make exacting tool room recreations which are identical in detail to those originally made for Ford. The FIA has acknowledged this with Gelscoe’s cars being granted HTPs, and they are accepted in place of original cars with many historic racing series. GT40s have come into their own, particularly in historic endurance racing with Pre ’66 cut off dates. The Spa Six Hours, for example, has been won by a GT40 on the last eight occasions. 

GEL 018, this car, was completed by Gelscoe Motorsport in March 2019. The impressive attention to detail draws from their enviable years of experience with these cars. Painted in a striking tribute to the Shelby striped livery, with Princess Alice Blue and Wimbledon White, GEL 018 is to 1965 FIA specification. A new Steve Warrior Ford 289 V8 engine producing 465 hp and 376 lbft is utilised with a Gelscoe ZF transaxle to transmit the power to the wheels.

Suspension control is by steel bodied Koni double adjustable dampers, set up by Gelscoe and refined by them in shake down testing. Premier Fuel Systems safety bag tanks are fitted and valid until 2023, with new Schroth Hans driver harness, Willans passenger harness and Lifeline Zero 360 fire system. Following the completion of GEL 018, FIA HTPs have been granted and are valid until 2029.

Built with the utmost attention to detail, its presence is matched by its performance. Gelscoe’s reputation and track record for building these cars is impressive to say the least. As it sits with us today, GEL 018 has only been used in two shakedown tests at Donington Park and Silverstone and is therefore absolutely box fresh, tested and ready to go. As such this offers the unique opportunity to bypass the lead time to commission a car of this standard.    

With the GT40 being very much the car to beat in historic endurance events such as the Spa 6 Hours, Masters 3 Hours and Iberian Historic Endurance series, along with the likes of Masters FIA Historic Sports Cars, GEL 018 is calling out to take on the challenge.