This Ford GT40 Is A Surreal Trip
Photography by Nat Twiss
The Ford GT40 is an undeniable classic, the legendary “Ferrari killer”. But they’re not exactly a car you could drive on Sundays, with auction figures for them running as high as $11 million. That leaves most sane people one option: a replica.
And this one, right here, is a special thing indeed.
Before you all run away at the sight of the word “replica”, let me tell you that I think it receives a bad rap sometimes, especially in the classic car community. To some people, the word brings up images of inauthentic, asymmetrical, fibreglass monstrosities; and to others, a replica frees you from the financial constraints of owning a dream car, of worrying less about a scratch or a scuff picked up at the track or on a Sunday drive, and enjoying the essence of a legendary automobile with fewer stresses. You run the gamut of quality with replicas, but if you find the right example, you’d be hard-pressed to know the difference once you’re driving.
I met Dave, the owner of this replica GT40, last year at a small meet in the Lake District. With maybe fifteen cars in the car park, ranging from classic Capris to modern machinery, his red, low-slung machine stood out like a sore thumb. We struck up a conversation, and he kindly let me peek under the hood at the modified Ford 302 V8, as well as in the interior, which, unlike many more contemporary replicas, is not full of modern luxuries. A simple Sabelt harness, as well as a GPS speedometer are really all you can find…a particularly useful addition when the car is driven across the UK and Europe to classic car events and circuits, including trips and laps around the iconic Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps circuits.
This particular example was created as a one-off in 1995 by Ricardo Engineering, as a demonstrator and prototype for a possible foray in selling replicas. Don’t know who Ricardo is? It’s the company that supplied the Bugatti Veyron with its 1,001+ horsepower-handling DCT transmission.
Based on the ubiquitous GT40 “GTD” chassis, Ricardo managed to take an already well-regarded piece of engineering and elevate it, eventually going on to supply parts for the ‘new’ Ford GT in 2006. Dave estimates that the car laps nearly 6 seconds a lap faster than some replicas on certain circuits. Off-track, it can comfortably make a 1,400 mile trip to Le Mans while dealing with the bumps and awful traffic of the UK motorway system. With superb circuit credentials and ability to handle long journeys, what more could you really want in a car, let alone one that looks this good?
When people ask me for a response to the terrible replicas of the world, this will be my answer. At a tiny fraction of the original price, does the experience even change? The car can certainly fool a camera lens.
Besides, when you’re at the wheel, inches from the ground, V8 roaring behind, peering through the letterbox windscreen at the corner that lies before you, who’s to say you aren’t in a GT40?