Posts Tagged ‘Ford’

Superperformance GT40

When we saw the new Ford GT at last year’s Geneva show it completely blew us away. Floating on its revolving stand the metallic blue car looked a million dollars but (whisper it) the anticipated list price was to be less than £200k. That is a lot of money to spend on any car but in the world of supercars and hypercars you could be spending close to that on a new set of alloy wheels and a service. The owner of a P1 or LaFerrari would probably have that in small change down the back of the sofa.

OK it’s a Ford which doesn’t quite have the panache of a Ferrari or Lambo but it certainly does have the pedigree. Books the size of War and Peace have been written about the track successes of the company so engineering prowess is a given with any fast Ford. The latest Focus RS is a good example. ‘Blue-collar’ heroes they are calling them because badge-snobs wouldn’t be seen dead in one, even as a passenger. Their loss entirely. Incidentally, there will no less than four Ford GT’s competing at Le Mans this year. Look out Porsche, Audi et al.

But maybe the tide is turning. You see the so-called ‘blue-collar supercar’, the new Ford GT, is sending the car-collecting world into a right tiswas. Word is that only 28 cars will be available to UK buyers out of the planned 1000 to be built over four years and this has caused some anxiety amongst those who not only like their cars but also have lots of money to invest in their cars.

There are stories of individuals flying to the Dearborn HQ to see what strings they can pull to secure one of the first cars whilst shouting “Do you know who I am?!” Well that’s just hearsay but Ford has responded by saying that buying a fleet of Mondeos or offering free use of a Gulfstream jet will have no bearing on your chances of buying one. Maybe it will just be the old-fashioned short-straw routine or a gunfight at the O.K. Corral, Ford-style.

Suddenly the company has gone a bit shy on the exact sales price too. Quite likely one of the most sensible comments made at an HQ board-meeting since Geneva 2015 was that the car was possibly a tad too cheap and rumours are circulating now that you could be looking at Aventador-like pricing. If you think you can get away with it, Ford, then why not?

No doubt the car-collectors and ‘investors’ will be looking to double whatever they pay for their car in a few years time so any list price is quite frankly academic. Given the new GT is a spiritual successor to the original GT40 which is likely to be conservatively worth in excess of 10 million US dollars these days it is no surprise that the new car has created so much attention. Looks like Ford will be competing with Ferrari in the auction rooms as well as on the track.

However, there is an alternative option where the sensible money might be heading. The Superformance GT40.

The SPF GT40 story is not new of course and the South African-based company has been producing ‘authentic’ GT40’s for well over a decade now. So authentic in fact, that the company can legally use the name ‘GT40’ and each car carries the GT40/P chassis number and therefore is eligible for the official GT40 registry. So there.

The appeal of this car to ‘collectors’ and ‘investors’ of course is non-existent. But to somebody who would like to get as close as it might be possible to the Le Mans-winning cars from the 1960’s and who actually wants to drive their cars instead of moth-balling them in de-humidified cocoons then it is quite timely to put the spotlight again on this curious ‘replica’, ‘re-creation’ or ‘continuation’.

Each SPF GT40 is produced by Hi-Tech Automotive in Port Elizabeth, South Africa who just happen to produce cars for Noble. The Superformance brand is owned by the Hillbank Motor Corporation who just happen to be the US distributor for Caterham. Petrol (or gasoline) runs through the veins of the infrastructure.

If you want to buy an SPF GT40 you stop by your local dealer – Le Mans Coupes Ltd in the UK for instance – and tell them what engine you want installed (a choice of three from 430 to 580 bhp + as we write this) and your favourite colour for the bodywork. Hand over around £150k (more or less) and look forward to owning a 200 mph+ hand-built, re-creation of one of the most iconic sports car ever made.

For a car created in the 1960’s there is nothing else that can come as close to a Ferrari from the same period that could draw a crowd in a high street. The shape of the original GT40 has defied the ageing process and can hold its own against the forthcoming Ford GT. It looks like a brand-new re-creation will be a lot cheaper too. A proper race-bred sports car for the price of a modern supercar?

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Ferrari and Ford have both been in the news lately. A record euro amount was paid at auction for a 1957 335 Sport Scaglietti and Ford are back at Le Mans after 50 years with an ambition to win again.

The success of the Ford GT40 from the 60’s is well-documented and today remains one of motor racing’s all-time great successes. Thanks to Signore Enzo Ferrari.

So the story goes, the great man was willing to consider the sale of his company to Henry Ford II back in 1963 but because of a disagreement over how the motor racing division would be run Enzo cancelled the negotiations. HF II had spent a fortune in lawyer’s fees up to that point and was pretty miffed that EF just upped and walked away from the table.

As a result of the falling-out of the two alpha-males the racing division of Ford were tasked with building a Ferrari-beater to give Enzo a good spanking for his tantrum. A partnership with Lola ensued and the creation of Ford Advanced Vehicles Limited in England whose first-born was the fabled GT40. The rest is history as they say and now we look forward to the new Ford GT.

At about the same time Mr Ferrari was having another spat with a gentleman called Ferruccio. The chap who was making tractors had a few tips for Enzo to improve the ‘drivability’ of his cars which resulted in him receiving a bloody nose from the man from Maranello. Ferruccio Lamborghini decided to start building his own cars. Oh dear, Enzo did it again but we really should be grateful for the Miura, Countach, Gallardo, Aventador, Sesto Elemento etc etc.

On the face of it, if Enzo Ferrari had been a mild-mannered, passive, congenial individual neither the GT40 or the multiple creations from Lamborghini would have ever existed. Quite fortunate therefore that he wasn’t and not only did he create some of the world’s greatest cars himself but he also had a hand in the creation of some that did not wear a Ferrari badge.

Grazie mille Enzo Ferrari!

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Fifty years ago Ford launched a car that they thought would take away some of the market share that BMC were stealing with their revolutionary Mini. Instead their brand-new ‘Consul Cortina’ created a marketplace all of its own which has pretty much endured to this day in the form of the current Mondeo and the multitude of similar-sized cars from most of the world’s manufacturers – all chasing the same market segment.

Their Cortina (still not sure why they insisted on using the ‘Consul’ moniker) appealed to the 2+2 family of post-war Britain that were hungry to escape the dark past of two world wars and were ravenously consuming the renaissance in music and design that was taking place during the 1960’s. Think Beatles, Mary Quant, Conran and the beautiful E-Type Jaguar as part of a tidal wave of newness that knocked the population off its feet.

The Cortina offered the family man in 1962 a car with clean, modern lines, (relatively) willing engines and performance for a reasonable amount of his hard-earned Pounds, Shillings and Pence – ‘new’ money didn’t come along along until the early 70’s. But there was more to come.

Ford had created a GT version of the Cortina with lowered suspension and – wait for it – 78 BHP over the standard 1500cc engined car which produced a weedy-sounding 60 BHP. Today of course we would expect more power from a sit-on lawnmower but in those days there were very few road cars that would achieve more than 100 BHP. Anything on offer to the general public producing more than that would have fallen very much into the ‘sports car’ category and was often far too expensive for ordinary folk. The Cortina did indeed put a smile on Family Guy’s face.

I had an uncle who once owned a Cortina GT and he drove it hard and fast. I blame that particular car for the love affair I developed later on in life for all things Ford including a Cortina 1600E, a 3.0S Capri in Daytona Yellow and a Scorpio Cosworth (sigh).

Four individuals were the catalyst for the birth of the Lotus Cortina – Colin Chapman, Harry Mundy, Walter Hayes and Keith Duckworth.

Colin Chapman owned Lotus with all of their chassis engineering expertise; Harry Mundy was an engine designer who joined Lotus from Coventry-Climax; Walter Hayes was head-honcho at Ford and Keith Duckworth a highly talented engine tuner (ex-Cosworth).

The four men created the cocktail of ingredients that created a true ‘sports saloon’ that distanced itself from its cousin the Cortina GT and its nearest rival the Mini Cooper. Press reviews were full of praise for the car’s handling and road-holding capabilities comparing it to the track-day Lotus 7 at the time.

On the track the Lotus Cortina inevitably blew everything else into the weeds and quickly became THE car to beat. The Ford Cortina-Lotus (as Ford preferred) is now firmly rooted in the folklore of saloon car racing and will still often make an appearance at classic car racing events today.

There was a simplicity in the approach that Ford took in the overall look of the car that is tasteful and pleasing to the eye. No fancy spoilers or wide arches just quarter-size bumpers, 5.5″ Wheels, Lotus badges and any colour you wanted as long as it was white with a green stripe. However, there is a story that one customer insisted on a blue stripe because he was superstitious about the colour green!

Today most Lotus Cortinas still running would have received an enormous amount of loving attention (and expense) to keep them on the road and their rarity value means that they are achieving high prices when they change hands. Figures in excess of £30000 would be readily paid for cars in top condition and concours examples could write their own cheques.

The forthcoming Baron’s auction on the 28th-29th May happens to feature a Lotus Cortina which has been described as follows:-

“This 1965 registered, Airflow model, Lotus Cortina,  underwent a full restoration in 2008/2009 meaning that GRO 28C is in very good order throughout. The car was produced in July of 1964 but was not sold and registered until March of 1965, Originally an “A frame” car, which was later converted to the more popular leaf spring set up, when used for group 2 historic rallying by the Ecurie Ten team from 1990.  Among the car’s six previous registered owners are the above mentioned Ecurie Ten team and well known and well respected  motoring journalist, Richard Hudson Evans. This car is known to the Lotus Cortina Register.”

The guide price is quoted as £30000 to £40000.

Click here for further details of the car that has been entered plus details of the auction

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Five of Ford’s most memorable vehicles to feature on film and television have been brought together at Elstree Studios, London to celebrate 100 years of Ford of Britain.

The Ford Anglia 105E from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, lined up alongside the pink FAB1 from Thunderbirds, James Bond’s Ford Mondeo from the 2007 film Casino Royale, a Ford Granada as seen in The Sweeney TV series and Dr Who’s yellow Edwardian vintage car.

One of the most watched vehicles in film history is the turquoise Ford Anglia 105E seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. 

“I’d been involved with Ford Anglia clubs for 30 years when I was asked by the film makers to provide a car for the movie,” said owner John Colyer. “After that it just took off and I ended up supplying around 15.”

One of the most eye-catching vehicles at Elstree was the six-wheel Ford-badged FAB1, that starred in the 2004 live action film Thunderbirds. Famous for its multi-function ability on the road and in the air, FAB1 is, of course, road-legal and fully operational.

For Daniel Craig’s debut as James Bond, in Casino Royale, which debuted ahead of the launch of the production Ford Mondeo in 2007, he took to the wheel of a hand built prototype.  Following the film’s release, the car was donated by Ford to the Ian Fleming Foundation and can now be seen at the Bond exhibition at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu.

On the small screen, Ford vehicles have featured in many series including two popular British programmes − gritty police drama The Sweeney and science-fiction drama Dr Who.  The familiar car chases of The Sweeney helped the Ford Consul GT and the Ford Granada achieve cult status with car fans − and are still loved 40 years on.

The canary yellow Edwardian vintage car with unique WHO 1 number plate and indicator ‘hand’ makes regular appearances at Dr Who conventions, and several Dr Who fans have used the car for weddings.

The summer’s Ford Centenary Tour covered a distance of over 2,200 miles across Britain, from Inverness to Southampton and Cardiff to London.

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It’s Ford’s 100th birthday and fans will find plenty to peruse, at this year’s Footman James Classic Motor Show when it returns to Birmingham’s NEC from 11-13 November.

There’s plenty of variety on the Mk1 Cortina Owners Club stand, with a 2-door Super, ‘woody’ Estate, Zetec-engined saloon, Lotus Cortina, and the club’s Supreme Champion, a 1200 ‘fleet’. Jim Scott’s superb 1200 won’t be on the club stand this year. It’s so good; it’s in the Meguiars display.

That fifties favourite, the 100E, has a broad appeal and the 100E Owners Club is embodying this by presenting a Popular, a Prefect, and the 300E Thames Van that appeared in the 1997 Heartbeat Xmas special. For fans of tuned classics, there’s a Pinto-powered 100E and a 2.8 V6 300E.

Around 1.3 million Anglias and variants were made, and quite a few will be on the Anglia 105E Owners Club stand. Well 8 actually! The club is exhibiting two highly-tuned saloons, a Standard saloon, two Deluxe versions, a Super, a Van, and a Standard Estate, which, like its saloon counterpart, truly defines no-frills motoring!

The MkIII Zephyr and Zodiac Owners Club has chosen four models from this capable and capacious range, namely a Zephyr 4, Zephyr 6, Zodiac, and Zodiac Estate. The featured Zephyr 6 was passed from father to son and the immaculately-restored Zodiac saloon has been in the same family for 28 years.

Much loved by families and fleet managers, the Mk3 took the Cortina into the 1970s. The Mark Three Cortina Owners Club is showcasing a Savage V6 replica, Crayford Convertible, Estate, 1300L, and a 1600 Basic. And there’s a twist! Each car will be occupied by life-size and suitably-attired manikins.

It’s ‘Win on Sunday, sell on Monday’ for the AVO Owners Club with one half of the stand set out to represent a rally stage, complete with two muddy Mexicos, mud, grass, and hay. Sideways to victory! The other half is a showroom with pristine sale cars.

The Corsair always cut a dash and the Ford Corsair Owners Club is bringing along some of the very best, including a 1500 Deluxe, a fully-restored 2000E, a 3-litre V6-engined 2000E and a Cosworth-engined Estate.

Amongst the seven cars on the Ford Granada Mk1 & Mk2 Drivers Guild’s stand will be a Granada Mk2 hearse, ‘sans’ coffin but with a wonderful collection of scale-model Granadas laid out instead! There’ll also be a Coleman Milne-converted Granada Mk1 Minster, the only example currently on the road.

The 1600E is plush, perky, nimble, and much sought after. Which is why the Cortina MkII and 1600E Owners Club is presenting two stunning examples. They’ll be accompanied by a modified Estate, a ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’. Swift but subtle!

The Footman James Classic Motor Show is open from 10am until 7pm on Friday, 9am until 7pm on Saturday, and 9am until 5.30pm on Sunday. Ticket prices range from £17.50 when purchased in advance, or £20.50 on the door. For more information visit www.necclassicmotorshow.com. For informat ion on Footman James , visit www.footmanjames.co.uk

Fords don’t get old they just get faster as my old Dad used to say!!

Ford revive a strong presence at Goodwood with the largest-ever vehicle cavalcade at the historic West Sussex circuit, in celebration of Fords UK centenary and signalling the end of the Ford of Britain Centenary Tour.

The Ford of Britain Centenary Parade will be flagged-off by Ford’s chief financial officer, Lewis Booth, with Ford of Britain chairman Joe Greenwell in the lead car.  The parade will consist of over 100 Fords, circling the track from 11:05 on Friday morning, 11:10 on Saturday and 11:25am on Sunday.

The line-up includes the famous Ford Anglia 105E used in the film “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”; the 1966 Le Mans 24-hour race-winning Ford GT Mk II; the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup rally-winning Ford Escort Mk I; and the 1912 all-Ford-race winner at Brooklands: the 1911 UK-built Ford Model T – “The Golden Ford.”

As well as the Ford of Britain Centenary Parade, the two GT40 course cars will be in action between the races as usual.  There will also be a Ford exhibition in the ‘Earls Court Motorshow’ area showcasing a number of vehicles including a 1960s Ford Corsair, a 1960s replica of Henry Ford’s Quadricycle and a new Ford Focus and Grand C-MAX.

The Ford exhibition area will be decorated with a Ford in Britain 100-year timeline and allow public use of a 1962 Rock-ola Empress Jukebox and the opportunity to have a period-style picture taken alongside a new Ford Focus.

Joe Greenwell, Ford of Britain chairman, said: “Ford is delighted to be at Goodwood Revival in such strength this year.  The Ford Centenary Tour of the UK has been a great success and with an exciting range of Ford vehicles to be showcased at Goodwood, we’re hoping to end our Ford of Britain Centenary celebrations with a bang!”

The Ford Centenary Tour, which got underway in London in August runs until September 18, finishing at the Goodwood Revival in Chichester, West Sussex.

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Happy 40th birthday Ford Capri! ‘The car you always promised yourself’ according to Henry Ford back in 1969 has come of age so time for a little nostalgic reflection.

It is hard to grasp both the relevance and importance of the Capri’s arrival to a gobsmacked public back then. In 2009 not a day seems to pass without the announcement of yet another ‘Sports Coupe’ to add the burden of choice faced by the modern car purchaser. Back in the 1960’s, however, the car-hungry public were fed a monotonous diet of sensible, dullard four-door family saloons.

OK by the late sixties the Mini had arrived to offer a little bit of light entertainment but it was Ford that sensed the market’s desire for something a little more ‘dangerous’. Their marketing bods therefore gave us the two-door Cortina, Cortina GT and the Lotus Cortina. Spot the recurring theme?

But in 1969 the Capri was launched and it melted a million hearts. Everybody wanted one. For slightly more than the price of a Cortina the public were being offered the European interpretation of the American Dream. No other manufacturer had offered such a stylish car aimed specifically at the mass market.

Many of the car’s design cues were taken from the US Mustang with its aggressive long bonnet (totally phallic in those days), fake air intakes and sports interior. But where the Ford boys had really pulled off their master stroke was in the massive range of options that allowed the purchaser to virtually customise the car to their own specification.

Nowadays, of course, you could do the same with a Chevrolet Matiz but back then choosing from a list of options was a revelation. Metallic paint, vinyl roof, Rostyle wheels, 1.3, 1.6, 2.0 or 3.0 v6 litre engine in L, XL, GXL or GTXLR permutations left the purchaser slack-jawed and goggle-eyed.

And so the scene was set for a car that was to survive until 1987 having passed through Mk1, 2 and 3 incarnations. Yours truly had bought three of them – a 1.6XL, 1600 GT and a 3.0S in Daytona Yellow.

The Capri’s demise, however, seemed like a funeral that nobody had bothered to turn up to. The car had been a real victim of its own success and there were just too many of them. The car was no longer special in the mid-eighties and a more affluent society moved its affections to anything with the letters B, M and W in its name.

In spite of the Capri’s all-round ability on the road and the track – Jochen Mass won the 1972 European Touring Car Championship in one – the car was no longer to be further developed by Ford who by now was playing with Cosworth and turning its Sierra into a dragon-slayer.

The Capri will be remembered fondly as a star in The Professionals and of course as the car that Del Boy had always promised himself in Only Fools and Horses. Sadly that was the knife in the back as far as the street cred was concerned. 

But the very last cars are interesting to the point where especially in 2.8i guise they are comfortable, fun to drive, pretty to look at and the ‘Del Boy’ image seems to have all but disappeared. Many of the 1.8 million built have either been crashed or left to rot so there aren’t many good examples left. Ergo values are increasing.

The 2.8 litre fuel-injected V6 produces 160 bhp which doesn’t sound impressive at all by today’s standards. But packaged with a rear-wheel drive chassis and no traction control you can see why stunt drivers used them with such rubber-burning visual effect in the cops and robbers TV programmes of the 70’s and 80’s.

If you can find the limited-edition Tickford version then snap it up quickly because it is believed that less than 100 examples were sold. The Tickford Capri was a highly modifed version of the 2.8 and was fitted with a turbocharger to boost the output to 205 bhp. Laden with luxury extras such as leather trim and Wilton carpets the car came with an excessive price tag that virtually priced it out of the market. The modified bodykit also made the car look a little bit lardy.

Today, however, we know of an extraordinary original 1987 2.8i Capri in black that has covered only 19,000 miles from new with one owner! The service book is fully stamped and every MOT certificate is available. Give us a call on ++44 1474 854490 for further details.

In the meantime click here for a slideshow of images.