Sitting in Ford’s SEMA booth, might be one of the most important Ford of all times, but that won’t stop most SEMA Show attendees from walking right by it. Sitting on a container high above the show floor, is the red #1 1967 Ford GT40 Mark IV, but with all the glitz and booth babes most show, most attendees have their eyes a little lower than iconic Ford. As a result most don’t even notice the Le Mans winner amid the sea of latest models, and the revived 1965 Ford Mustang body shell.
The Mk. IV ran in only two races, the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, it won both. Unlike the earlier 1964-1966 MK I and MK III GT40′s that were based on the Lola GT and assembled in England, the MK IV was built entirely in the USA. It remains the one and only American built car to claim the overall victory at LeMans. It was driven to victory by the duo of A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney, who piloted their Ford to top speeds of over 220 mph. The led all but the first 90 minutes, and the 2nd place Ferrari 330P4 trailed more than four laps behind when the Americans captured the checkered flag.
Though Ford won again in 1968 and 1969 the 1967 Mk IV was the last model to sport the 7.0 litre 427 CI engine, as new rules required the GT40 to use the smaller displacement 5.0 liter 302 after 1967.
At total of six MK IV J-cars were built by Shelby America and Kar Kraft for the 1967 season. Ken Miles died while testing his car in Riverside, California in 1966, just two months after Ford’s historic 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans that year. As a result of his accident, Ford fitted the full NASCAR style tube roll cage. The move to the roll cage saved racing legend Mario Andretti life when he totaled his car in a violent accident at Le Mans in 1967.
It rather sad that such a legend attracts so little attention in the sea of silicon booth babes, replica Shelbys, lifted Jeeps, and matte paint jobs that are ever present at here at SEMA. Perhaps, show goers are simply unaware of the legend in their midst. I understand why Ford placed the multi-million dollar race car on a container above the busy show floor. I just wish they had done more to draw attention to its legacy. In a sea of imitations it nice to recognize a winner.