The documentation provides Ford's archivists and historians with a more complete picture of the GT40.
The reveal of the second-generation Ford GT in 2015 and its subsequent class win at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans propelled the supercar's forebear, the Ford GT40, to a new level of prominence. The 2019 film Ford v. Ferrari starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale didn't hurt either.
Now, thanks to that elevated status, numerous historic documents relating to the Ford GT40's development have been recovered. Just last June, we reported on some early GT40 design drawings that Ford shared after its archivists stumbled upon them while searching through the company's styling negatives. Now, a whole new batch of documents has surfaced, after being brought forth by former Kar Kraft engineer Don Eichstaedt, who had firsthand experience with the car.
Kar Kraft was a Brighton, Michigan-based outfit that, while on paper a separate business entity, was effectively Ford's skunkworks division. The company did the bulk of the early work on the Ford GT40, and was responsible for the Boss 429 Mustang - a super-rare, super-high-powered Mustang that allowed Ford to homologate its 429-cubic-inch V8 for stock car racing.
One of the crucial documents that Ford received was a Testing and Development Booklet prepared for Ford's Advanced Vehicles Division, which documents each of the GT40's trial runs, including at England's MIRA Proving Grounds on April 8, 1964 and its first-ever trial at the Le Mans road course a week and a half later. The documentation even includes first-person accounts of the car's performance, highlighting just how much work was left to be done in those early days; speeds on the Mulsanne straight could exceed 200 mph even in those days, and while in development, the GT40 was known to be unstable at high speeds.
But also included in the recently recovered documentation is an Illustrated Parts List prepared by John Wyre - the man who, after Ford scrapped its Advanced Vehicles Division following the 1967 racing season, went on to start J.W. Automotive Engineering Limited and produce road-going examples of the Ford GT40.
The documents are an incredible find, helping to plug glaring gaps in Ford's historic GT40 documentation and preserve the story of one of the most iconic race cars of all time.