Vijay Pattni07 December 2011

This is the moment Ford beat Ferrari

Pic of the day: It’s 1966. It’s the Le Mans finale. And three Ford GT40s smash Ferrari

It's 1962. Inaugural James Bond flick Dr No hits the big screen, Sonny Liston knocks out Floyd Patterson in the first round to become the Heavyweight Champion of the World, and Anthony Burgess' dystopian masterpiece A Clockwork Orange is released.

Oh, and Enzo Ferrari was on the brink of selling his company to Ford.

Being a Hound Of The Internet, you'll be familiar with this lore already. You'll also be familiar with the rumours surrounding the sale, and its eventual collapse. Whatever, Ford was ready to buy until Ferrari pulled out at the last minute.

Henry was furious. And he'd long held a passion to compete at the famous - and gruelling - Le Mans 24hr race that Ferrari had dominated (they locked out the top spot from 1960-1965). He instructed his engineers to build a racer that would beat the Ferrari cars, and the result was the Ford GT40.

The first was powered by a 4.7-litre V8, though its debut at Le Mans in 1964 wasn't the best start. All three entrants were retired, and soon after the GT40 programme was handed over to Caroll Shelby.

When it returned to Le Mans in 1966, it sported a 7.0-litre V8 with 485bhp and a recorded top speed of 187mph. The body was made from glass reinforced plastic, and the two-seat, two-door GT weighed just over 1,110kg. That's the same as a Fiesta.

The Mk IIs came back in style, too. In 1966, they took the top three positions, and while the win was mired in controversy between the Ken Miles/Denny Hulmes GT40 and the Chris Amon/Bruce McLaren (yes, the McLaren) GT40 taking the top spot, there was no doubt that Ford had arrived. In fact, the GT40 not only beat Ferrari, it nailed them, taking Le Mans victories in '66, '67, '68 and '69.

And that picture above, released by Ford in celebration of its centenary year, shows the three GT40s winning in 1966. Enjoy.

And once you've enjoyed that, remind yourself of the time Jeremy took the the 2002 Ford GT supercar to its limits and declared... "this car is a sensation".

Want more old Ford goodness? We popped down to the heritage centre to snap away at the forgotten Fords over the years. Here's what we found...

Gallery: delving into Ford's secret stash in Dagenham

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