Ford CEO Jim Farley says the V6-engined GT was never meant to happen
Blue Oval bosses originally wanted a Mustang racecar to win the GT class at Le Mans in 2016
You know the story by now. It was coming up to the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first ever Le Mans win – that famous triumph for Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in the GT40 MkII – and of course the company wanted to honour that moment in history.
As a result, Ford and Multimatic teamed up to build the all-conquering, twin-turbo V6-engined Ford GT, which won the LM GTE-Pro class in 2016 and would then go on to make production as a road car.
Examples of that GT road car now frequently change hands for many millions of dollars at auction, but did you know that it was never actually meant to see the light of day?
We’re serious. Ford CEO Jim Farley let slip at the recent unveil of the Mustang GTD that the plan was never to build another modern-day GT, and that it was the Mustang that was supposed to win Le Mans in 2016.
“When we decided to make Mustang global – to sell it around the world in left- and right-hand drive – for the previous generation, we knew the 50th anniversary of the Le Mans win was coming up,” said Farley.
“We started to talk inside the company about winning Le Mans with the Mustang.
“Larry Holt and Multimatic were the easy choice for us. And we went around talking to the sanctioning bodies like IMSA about what it would take for a Mustang to win. Multimatic started doing a lot of simulation, and it became clear that we couldn't really win with the silhouette of a Mustang. We would be too dependent on the ACO and the French regulators.”
Blimey. It could have all been so different.
“We decided at that time to take a totally left turn with Multimatic and Larry's technical leadership,” admits Farley. “And we designed the Ford GT. But the original idea was never to have a new GT. We wanted to win Le Mans with the Mustang.”
That’s not to say that the GT project ended up being a rather large win for Ford. “GT's been very successful,” said Farley. “We're really happy with the car. It's sold well. But, you may remember, we raced the car before we sold the road car. Which was a feat in itself.”
Thank you for subscribing to our newsletter. Look out for your regular round-up of news, reviews and offers in your inbox.
Get all the latest news, reviews and exclusives, direct to your inbox.
“It just took some talking to the ACO,” says Holt. We can only imagine how those conversations played out.
And yet, we ended up in a situation that gave us both the brilliantly bonkers GT and (now that the rules are set to change in 2024) a proper GT3-spec racing Mustang built by Multimatic that will compete at the famous French endurance race. Whether it can hit the ground running like the old GT remains to be seen…