Blue collar hero: driving the Ford that beat Ferrari at Le Mans

The Ford GT40 took on the might of Ferrari at Le Mans and came away the victor – repeatedly. Paul Hudson squeezes behind the wheel

The subject of the greatest British cars ever made has provided heated debate throughout the land, not least in the Telegraph Cars office. So when our colleagues at Classic & Sports Car magazine launched just such a competition, we were more than intrigued – especially since the winner was to be decided by the great British public.

The magazine asked 100 leading experts – including the likes of McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray, Lotus head of design Russell Carr and Pink Floyd drummer and noted car collector Nick Mason – to nominate their top 10, deliberately leaving the interpretation of “best” up to them. According to James Elliott, the magazine’s group editor, “some judged their favourites solely on performance, others on historical importance, a few on coolness or packaging, but the result was an incredible mix that reflected the variety of the British motor industry”.

One of the cars that scored highly on all the above criteria was the Ford GT40, built in response to Ferrari’s dominance at the Le Mans 24 Hours from 1960 to 1965. Ford had been in negotiations to buy the Italian sports car maker but Enzo Ferrari pulled out of the deal at a late stage – and Ford vowed to conquer Le Mans in response.

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