Image: Ford Motor Company / Ford Performance via YouTube / Wiki Commons
About This Quiz
Picture the automotive world of the early 1960s. Ford was an established producer of reliable, affordable, popular cars. Ferrari was known for producing the sleekest, most amazing racing cars in the world. Neither could really do what the other did. Both wanted to have a piece of the other's world. Henry Ford desperately wanted into the world of racing. Enzo Ferrari had little established in the world of road cars and needed a more reliable stream of income. It seemed like a match made in heaven that the two companies could come together, each benefiting from the other's expertise. But it was not meant to be.
The rivalry between Ferrari and Ford that exploded when their deal fell apart sparked one of the most amazing stories in automotive history. It was a story that culminated in 1966 at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. It was an underdog story, a story of perseverance, determination, obsession and revenge. And it was a story about some insanely fast cars. Not only was it the subject of documentaries, but it's a major Hollywood movie starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale. The story is fascinating, with so many interesting characters and if you think you know the whole thing, take the quiz and prove it!
Who did Ford enlist to help design their Ferrari-beating car?
Ford enlisted automaker Carroll Shelby to help design a vehicle that would take out Ferrari. Their early attempts in 1964 proved disastrous and they didn't even finish the race. Shelby, however, had won the Le Mans GT class and helped Ford down a new path to victory. Here, Shelby is driving an Aston Martin DBR1/1 for the Aston Martin factory team at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 22, 1958, and in 2007 (inset).
What was the car that Ford entered into the '66 Le Mans race called?
The Ford GT40 had actually raced in both '64 and '65 at Le Mans but neither year was successful. The first round was a spectacular failure since the cars were unreliable. The second year, they swapped engines before the last race and failed again. But at Le Mans in '66, shown here, things were different.
Why did Ferrari want to sell to Ford in the first place?
To increase their road-car profile and pay debts
Ford was a massive automaker even back in the '60s, and Ferrari wanted to sell to them so that the company could raise its road-car profile beyond the European market and perhaps even take up motorsports in America while simultaneously paying down some debts. Selling the racing division was not the plan, though. Enzo Ferrari, second from right, is shown here with his motor engineers in 1947.
What set off the rivalry between Ford and Ferrari in the first place?
Ferrari backed out of a sale.
Once upon a time, Henry Ford II was planning on buying out Ferrari and the owner, Enzo Ferrari, was entirely happy with that idea and had agreed to it. When Ferrari realized Ford planned to buy out the racing division as well, he backed out of the deal, which infuriated Ford.
The 40 part of GT40 refers to the height of 40 inches measures at the windshield. It's worth noting that the heigh of the car was actually 40.5 inches but there's something less inspiring about a Ford GT40.5. A 1967 GT40 Mk IV J-Car is shown here.
A famous Ford driver lost his life test-driving the GT40 ahead of the '67 Le Mans. Who was it?
Ken Miles was a part of Carroll Shelby's team who came on board with Ford's mission to take out Ferrari. He drove the car that came in second at the 1966 Le Mans race. Miles was test-driving Ford's J-Car which was meant to succeed the GT Mk II when the car flipped and caught fire. Miles is shown here stepping into a Dolphin Mk II in March of 1961.
Which model of Ferrari failed to perform at Le Mans in 1966?
The 1966 Ferrari 330 P3 was entered into the 24 Hours of Le Mans and it was a resounding disappointment. None of the 330s entered finished the race. There are actually no 330 P3s left in the world, as they was either scrapped or converted into other models, including the 330 P4, shown here in 1967.
Ford GT40s took the top spots in 1966 at Le Mans. What kind of car was the first to rank after a Ford?
The top three spots all went to Ford GT40s in 1966, but in fourth place, a Porsche 906 crossed the finish line. A Ferrari did come in eighth, but most of the Ferrari team did not manage to finish at all.
What was part of the reason Henry Ford was so angry with Ferrari for ending their deal?
Ford had already invested millions in it.
Some say Ferrari, shown here in 1953, never had any intention to sell the business, but Ford was all in on it and had invested millions in the project. They had to audit Ferrari's books and that took time and money. When Ferrari backed out, that was all lost.
Ford had built a facility on Ferrari property.
Ford and Ferrari had been friends for years.
Ford had already started manufacturing Ferrari models.
The original chassis for the Ford GT40 was a Lola Mk6. Lola had been a British auto manufacturer that started in 1958 and has been defunct since 2012. They were mostly known for racing cars and the MK6 was chosen since it had been designed to use a Ford engine. Shown here is a Lola Mk6 GT, which had a production run of only three units.
How close to signing a deal were Ford and Ferrari?
In the initial stages
It was only a verbal agreement.
They were at the table signing documents.
Henry Ford and his lawyers were actually in Italy at a table across from Enzo Ferrari and his lawyers signing the terms of the contract when the whole deal blew up. It was as last-minute as last-minute could get. Ferrari began crossing terms off the contract before handing it back to Ford.
So what does the GT part of the GT40 stand for anyway?
GT stands for "Grand Touring" unless you're going Italian, and then it's "Gran Turismo." In either language, grand touring refers to a car that's designed to be both fast and travel long distances. Shown here is a GT40 Mk I competing in the 1969 Nurburgring 1000km race
Ferrari sold much of his company in 1969. What company did he sell to?
Fiat approached Ferrari after the Ford deal fell through and offered a deal more to the Italian automaker's liking. Fiat took controlling interest while Ferrari retained 10%, which is still in the family today.
Carroll Shelby's racing career made him a legend. What was unique about his 1955 12 Hours of Sebring race?
He got lost.
His car was missing parts.
He was an hour late.
His hand was broken.
Shelby managed to race the 12 Hours of Sebring in 1955 with a hand that was so badly broken they had to design him a fiberglass cast that could be attached to the steering wheel to allow him to properly drive. He came in second.
"If you can dream it, you can do it" is an inspirational quote attributed to Mr. Enzo Ferrari himself. While that sounds nice and encouraging, it's worth noting that Ferrari was also known to be an exceptional hot head who would scream at employees and sometimes even customers.
Who drove the GT40 that actually came in first place at Le Mans in 1966?
Bruce McLaren was the driver who took first at that historic Le Mans race. He also founded McLaren Automotive, which still exists today and makes some of the most coveted and expensive sports cars in the world. A 2019 McLaren 720S costs about $285,000. McLaren is shown here in 1966.
Ford set up a company in Britain to develop its Ferrari killer. What was the company called?
Ford Advanced Vehicles
Ford set up shop in London with a specialized team of engineers and designers that included Lola, John Wyer of Aston Martin, Roy Lunn from Ford and others. They called it Ford Advanced Vehicles. Shown here, Henry Ford II celebrates along with winners Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon on the podium at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Roy Lunn holds the title of the godfather of the GT40. Ford brought in Lunn from the advanced vehicle department at Ford to help design the GT40 as he also had expertise with the race since he'd helped Aston Martin win Le Mans in 1949.
Ford enlisted many famous automakers to help with the GT40 project. What other car company were his designers poached from?
All of the above
Ford spared no expensed developing the GT40 and took talent from everywhere. John Wyer was an ex-Aston Martin team manager and designers from Cooper, Lotus, Colotti and Fairlane were all enlisted to help out. Automotive designers are shown here at Ford's Detroit research and engineering center in the early 1960s.
What did Ferrari say to his secretary at 10 p.m. during his meeting with Ford?
"Let's go and eat."
According to an account from Franco Gozzi, personal secretary to Enzo Ferrari, after a foul-mouthed tirade against the Ford contract, Ferrari turned to him and said: "Let's go and eat." The Ferrari team left the room and never returned. The deal was over.
Prior to the GT40, what was the last American car to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans?
It hadn't happened.
Not only was it the first win for Ford at the 1966 Le Mans, but it was also the first win for any American team in 1966. The bar was definitely set, and since that time several US cars have taken the top spot.
How many years in a row did a Ford GT40 win at Le Mans?
Starting in 1966, Ford and its impressive GT40 managed to pull in four straight years of wins at the Le Mans. The cars were slightly modified each time, of course. The Mk II won in 1966, the Mk IV, shown here, won in 1967, and the Mk I took the final two years
Carroll Shelby had actually defeated Enzo Ferrari in a race once before the '66 Le Mans. When was it?
In 1959, Carroll Shelby was not a designer but a race car driver. That was his final year of racing and he took the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind the wheel of the Aston Martin DBR1 shown here. Ferrari took third.
He blamed Ferrari for the death of some of his friends.
Shelby actually used to race for Ferrari, but several deaths during the 1950s, particularly the death of Shelby's friend Luigi Musso, shown here, in 1958, made him hate Ferrari. Shelby felt Ferrari's policies had directly contributed to those deaths and severed ties with the company.
Do you know where Ferrari got the idea for their famous horse logo?
Ferrari's pet horse
Ferrari's secretary designed it.
No one actually knows
An Italian ace pilot
Francesco Baracca was an ace pilot in World War 1. He decorated his plane with the image of a galloping horse. The image so impressed Ferrari that he actually met with Baracca's widow and she told him to use the symbol on his cars for luck. The Porsche logo features the same horse for the same reason.
The champagne spray to celebrate a victory was created by a member of the Ford GT40 team. Who was it?
It's ubiquitous nowadays that when someone wins a big game they shake up a bottle of champagne and spray everyone in the celebration. That was actually started by Ford driver Dan Gurney after his victory. He spontaneously hosed everyone off with the bottle.
What did Ken Miles do when he was in the military, prior to becoming a race car driver?
Ken Miles was the driver who came in second in '66 at Le Mans, and he had always been a man of excitement. Before he even joined the military he raced motorcycles but as a part of the British Army, he was a tank sergeant.
Between 1964 and 1969 only 105 Ford GT40s were actually produced. You can still find a few for sale on the internet but you're going to have to pay over 6 figures to get one if you're interested. There were variants produced that were similar to the GT40, but weren't true to the mark.
In 2018, a 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO sold at Sotheby's auction for a staggering $48.4 million, making it the most expensive Ferrari ever sold at auction and also the most expensive car ever sold at auction at the time.
There was a road-driving version of the GT40 that was taller than the 40 inches of its racing cousin. How tall was it?
Roy Lunn had to pitch the idea of the GT40 to Ford executives and, at the same time, he also pitched the road edition tentatively called the GT 46. You can go out and buy a GT 46 today if you want to ... and have plenty to spend.
What was the name of the very first car Ford ever produced?
The Model A was Ford's first car but the Model T was the first mass-produced car that was seriously designed for the casual driver and made available across the country. Only 1,750 original 1903-1904 Model As were produced. Ford resurrected the name in 1927 for the model following the Model T, also naming it the Model A.