A Shelby American mechanic fettles the Bruce McLaren/Ken Miles Ford GT40 Mk2 ‘106’ prior to the Le Mans 24 Hours commencement on 20 June 1965…

I always thought the 4.7/5 litre GT40 variants were masterpieces of Eric Broadley packaging, if a bit beefy given the steel rather than aluminium monocoque mandated by Ford- but the 7 litre Mk2 and Mk4 are altogether less subtle expressions of the genre! Successful ones at that.

You can’t see ‘Henrys’ cast iron blocked, ally headed 427cid pushrod OHV V8 under all the plumbing, the dry sumped 90 degree, 107.2mm X 96.1mm lump was fed by a single, big Holley 4-barrel 780CFM carb developing circa 485bhp@6200rpm and 475lb.ft of torque@3200-3600rpm, plenty for a car weighing 1200Kg.
The ‘cross-over’ exhaust sytem is a masterpice of the pipe-benders art, mufflers interesting and unusual on a racer, maybe to save the drivers ears a tad? You can just see the gulping, big mouth of the monster Holley in front of the exhausts.

To the right near the roof is the water radiator neck, filler and temperature sender, to the right are the gold colored fuel pumps, the fuel tank had a capacity of 159 litres.

You can see the Kar-Kraft / Ford T44 four-speed ‘box, in fact ’twas the failure of this very special transaxle, the design of which was led by Ed Hull, which caused chassis #’106′ retirement on lap 45 of the classic.

There are plenty of lovely ‘Aeroquip’ aircraft braided fittings too, well in advance of their adoption in F1, for brake lines and various oil feeds around the transaxle, note the transmission oil-radiator under the mech’s elbow.

See the big, rear, grey stove enamelled chassis diaphragm below the exhaust and above the ‘box to support the engine/gearbox and location of the rear suspension, the top of the spring/shock’s clear- there, too, is the brake cooling duct which takes air collected from the body. Big cast magnesium uprights, beefy driveshafts and top suspension link and forward facing radius rod and brake calipers for the outboard mounted, ventilated discs are also in shot.


The quick-lift jack and ‘captive frame’ on the car is typical of Shelby’s thoughfulness and endurance racing knowledge…

Mind you they had a shocker of a race!

Five cars were entered, two Mark 2’s and three Daytona Cobra Coupes and all failed to finish; the Miles/McLaren Mk2 after 45 laps due to gearbox failure, the Amon/P Hill Mk2 on lap 89-clutch. The Johnson/Payne Daytona ‘2287’ was out on lap 158-head gasket, Gurney/Jerry Grant Daytona ‘2286’ on lap 204-engine and Daytona ‘2601’ Schlesser/Allen Grant on lap 111-clutch.

So, a disaster for Ford, their best placed car was the AC Cars Ltd entered Daytona Cobra Coupe driven by Sears/Thomson which finished eighth, the race was won, famously by the 3.3 litre V12 Ferrari 250LM of Masten Gregory and Jochen Rindt, the latter flogging the thing to within an inch of its life!

It was Ferrari’s last Le Mans win with the first of four on the trot to come for Ford from 1966-69- wins for the Mk2 and Mk4 in 1966 and 1967 and 1968/9 for the Mk1 5 litre GT40.

Finally, Shelby American made amends in 1966, taking the first two places in the infamous ‘Ford Form Finish’ ahead of arch rivals, the Holman Moody prepared Ford Mk2’s…




Le Mans 1965 start.

The Amon/Hill GT40 Mk2 on pole, then Surtees/Scarfiotti Ferrari 330P2 , Bondurant/Bucknum GT40 in 3 and McLaren/Miles GT40 Mk2 in grid 4



McLaren/Miles Ford GT40 Mk2 early in the race, Le Mans 1965.

Both Mk2’s failed due to transaxle preparation mistakes with a gear that was intended for scrap being put into one gearbox and dirt on a bearing surface in the other.



Carroll Shelby beside the Chris Amon/Phil Hill GT40 Mk2 chassis ‘106’ at Le Mans 1965- note the ‘at meeting’ fabricated rear spoiler addition.



Shelby American Le Mans garage- Daytona Cobra Coupes #12 Schlesser/J Grant, #10 Johnson/Payne #9 Gurney/A Grant- all DNF.


Rainer Schlegelmilch,

Tailpiece: Filipinetti’s GT40 Mk2, prepped by Shelby American on the way to Europe at LAX, it too failed to finish driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Herbie Muller…



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s