US safety regulations also insisted on a raised nose with four round headlights and vestigial bumpers front and rear. The need for at least some practicality mandated an extended tail under which a luggage box was fitted directly on top of the transmissions. Inside some concessions to luxury were made including full leather upholstery, but easily the most significant change to driver comfort was the softening off of the suspension and the fitment of wire wheels with narrow street tyres in place of the track car’s fat racing rubber.
The car went into production in 1967 and immediately ran into trouble. At $18,500 it was hideously expensive, more even than the price of the racing car upon which it was based. The interior got hot very quickly, your luggage – cooked by the engine and gearbox – hotter still. The gearchange was awful and the fit, finish and general reliability nowhere near that required for one of the most expensive cars ever offered for sale. It tanked and after just seven units were built, slipped from the sales sheets.
What, then, was this curious road racing hybrid like to drive? Ford has one of the seven in the UK and once let me drive it. It was many years ago, but not the kind of experience you are likely to forget.
Sadly what I remember most was that it was almost impossible to squeeze my 6ft 4in frame into its tiny cabin and once I had I could barely drive it. Had it not been a GT40, I’d have given up. Doubled up and in some pain is perhaps most the best way to start an objective assessment but I was sufficiently clear-headed to realise the gearshift, while poor, was not quite as awful as I’d been led to believe and that, detuned or not, the engine was simply magnificent. Even then the GT40 felt unbelievably fast: when it was new it must have been like something from outer space.