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						Superformance 1075
Superformance 50th Anniversary GT40

Superformance celebrates 50 years of GT40 P/1075

By Dean Larson

Photos: Superformance

Technology moves a mile a minute at Le Mans, even back in the 1960s, making the prospect of winning the event in an old car sound like fairytale material. But that’s exactly what happened in the case of the MkI GT40 chassis number P/1075, a car which won at Le Mans twice, several years after Ford had abandon the MkI in favor of the 427-powered MkII. 50 years have passed since P/1075’s last win at Le Mans, and Superformance has decided to honor the occasion with a pair of anniversary edition GT40s celebrating 1075’s legacy.

Ford’s small-block powered MkI GT40 wasn’t enough to topple Ferrari in 1964, and it took a quantum leap in cubic inches to get the job done in 1966 with the 427 FE-powered MkII. If securing the overall win (the first for an American constructor) wasn’t enough, Ford came back in 1967 with the all-new GT40 MkIV, which was driven to victory by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, becoming the first all-American victory at Le Mans. But Ford ended its direct involvement in Le Mans after 1967, leaving representation of the GT40s up to other organizations like John Wyer's J.W. Automotive. It also came to be that the rules changed at Le Mans after 1967, limiting engine displacement to 305 ci, legislating Ford’s 427 out of competition. With a bit of updating, J.W. campaigned aging MkI GT40s with their small-block 289 engines sporting the iconic Gulf Oil livery.

In an underdog effort, GT40 number P/1075 was driven to victory in 1968 by Mexican Pedro Rodriguez and Belgian Lucien Bianchi, closely followed by a pair of Porsches. Three years after Ford initially developed the MkI, the victory was especially significant, and the first successful Le Mans effort for the small-block GT40.

But GT40s again returned to the grid in 1969, with cars fielded by Alan Mann Racing and J.W. Automotive; chassis P/1075 among them, driven this time by Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver. Notably, Ickx performed a one-man protest of the typical Le Mans start, where drivers ran to their cars before taking off, generally fastening their belts as they drove. Fresh off an injury in 1968, Ickx calmly walked to his car and belted up before taking off. As if by cruel irony, a crash in the opening lap claimed the life of John Woolfe, who rolled his new Porsche 917 and was thrown from the car since his belts were not securely fastened.

Favored to win, Porsche’s 917s and 908 were performing well until both 917s retired from mechanical failures. Wyer’s GTs were running third and fourth until the two leading Porsches pitted unexpectedly, and by the final hour of the race, P/1075 was in the lead with Ickx behind the wheel. Ickx battled with the Porsche 908 of Herrmann and Larrousse all throughout the last hour of the race leading up to a climactic finish. Both cars were tasked with one extra lap, and Ickx slowed his car down as if his car was beginning to run out of fuel, but really he wanted to slip into the slipstream of the Porsche. This allowed him to pass the Porsche back before the end of the straight and hold off Herrmann through the finish. By only a few seconds, P/1075 had become the first car to win at Le Mans twice in a row since the Bentley Speed Six in 1929 and 1930. Affectionately called the Old Lady, P/1075 is now one of the most revered pieces of Ford racing history.

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of P/1075’s success in 1969, Superformance has unveiled two new continuation models with licensing from Gulf Oil and Safir GT40. The standard 50th anniversary model possesses many of the features you’ve come to expect on Superformance’s GTs, including vented disc brakes, Wilwood calipers, Bilstein coilovers and modern air-conditioning. With a few modern upgrades wrapped in a historically accurate and iconic Gulf livery, this one’s sure to be a great driver.

The second model has been dubbed the Tool Room 50th anniversary GT40, and Superformance states that the car will be mechanically and visually the same as the original P/1075. They’re also claiming that the cars will come stripped excess options, as they’re intended racing and will be homologated for historic racing events. Both cars will carry P1000 continuation chassis numbers.

Superformance | 800/297-6253 | superformance.com

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