It pays tribute to a legend.
The 2020 Ford GT is already an iconic car based on its impressive achievements in modern motorsport. This aura of competitive spirit dates back to the original GT40, which famously defeated Ferrari at Le Mans. To pay homage to the GT's heritage, the Blue Oval is preparing something special for the 2021 model year. Following the Liquid Carbon and Heritage Editions on last year's model, the 2021 GT will also receive a Heritage Edition.
The teaser video for the new special edition only lasts 12 seconds but gives a pretty clear peak at what the Heritage model will look like for 2021. It appears that there will be a livery based on the 1966 Ford GT40 that won at Daytona with white paint, a black hood, and a red side decal with the number 98 meatball on the side.
The race at Daytona proved to be a critical lesson for Ford when developing the original GT40. The cars built in 1963 and 1964 were astonishingly fast but suffered from endurance issues. In Nuremberg, the suspension let loose. Then, with Phil Hill leading and setting a lap record at Le Mans, the Colotti gearboxes gave out in all three cars. Ken Miles, Shelby's developmental driver, took in the cars and improved the suspension tremendously. The development team also reworked the aerodynamics using a Ford Aeroneutronics computer and taped yarn in a wind tunnel.
The Dayton 12-hour race was the first event on the calendar, and with the improvements, the GT40 scored took first and third place using a Shelby Cobra engine. After adding a second-place Sebring finish, the cars were sent back to France to defeat Ferrari. Still, though, they suffered reliability issues due to the short time table.
For the 1966 season, Daytona was once again the first track on the calendar, now extended to a 24-hour race. Ford fielded five teams, including three from Shelby, and two from Holman and Moody. One even featured an experimental automatic transmission. Ferrari didn't field any factory cars but had several cars under its North American team. The No. 98 car (pictured below) was driven by Miles and Lloyd Ruby, who led from the beginning and won with an eight-lap cushion. This same year, Ford scored a 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans.
Ford plans to reveal the 2021 GT Heritage Edition at the Petersen Museum in Los Angeles on Sunday, August 16, 2020. The reveal will be live-streamed on the Petersen's YouTube channel starting at 11:30 am EDT, concluding the museum's virtual Car Week event.