Let’s just say we’re glad the project went in a slightly different direction.
Designing any vehicle is a process, even with something as mundane as a Kia Rio. Imagine if you’re Ford and are looking to trounce Ferrari in endurance racing back in the 1960s. You’re not as experienced, your cars don’t look nearly as sexy, and despite being a larger company your back is against the wall. You need a new racecar that will inspire people and perform outstandingly well in endurance events. That’s exactly what the Ford design team was facing back in the day, and thanks to someone at the company unearthing some old sketches, we can see how the GT40 program started out in a little different direction than the final product.
These early sketches were posted on Twitter by the Ford Performance account. Apparently, the company’s archivists believe these are some of the earliest design sketches of the GT40, with one showing a date of June 11, 1963, giving everyone a fascinating glimpse into what could have been.
We get to see three different exterior perspectives of the would-be Ford GT40. They’re sleeker and leaner than what came to be, with some strong Lotus design inspiration. Nothing about the car has a solid connection with Ford or communicates in any way that it’s an American vehicle.
If you look closely, each of the sketches not only is from a different perspective, but also features a different layout for the car. The ¾ front view sketch has a long hood, the cabin set closer to the rear axle, strongly suggesting a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive layout.
In the sketch that’s a side profile, The hood is far shorter and the cabin is pushed slightly toward the front axle. Not only is it obvious the engine is mid-ship, it appears is there’s cowling over it that sits well below the steeply-raked roofline.
Finally, the ¾ rear view sketch looks more like the first one, although the hood appears shorter and the cabin is pushed forward quite a bit. The rear looks more traditional, but there are zero hints that the engine is located in the rear, like venting in the back window, but it is an initial sketch and not an engineering schematic. However, the dual exhaust integrated into the rear fascia indicates the engine is right back there.
A fourth sketch is a cutaway view of the Ford GT40 and it clarifies that the third sketch as well as possibly the first were indeed supposed to be of a mid-ship engine configuration, because we see the dual exhaust outlets in the rear fascia. Even more interesting is the lift-up canopy for the cabin, a design which has been used on other racers and concept cars, but is still wild to see anywhere.
Finally, Ford Performance also posted a photo of the first clay model of the GT40. It looks like a mashup of the two design approaches in the sketches, but it’s still a way off from the final product. For example, the lift-up canopy design is still present.
While it’s fun to see these sketches, we’re definitely fans of how the Ford GT40 turned out. It’s muscular yet has a sleekness to it. those clamshell doors are just outstanding. There’s a good reason why the GT40 is a popular reproduction vehicle today.