Ford GT40 Geneva Live 8

Alongside its new GT at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show, Ford also brought along the car that inspired it; a legendary racer with a remarkable back story and one that dominated Le Mans. It is, of course, the Ford GT40, so named because it stood at just 40.5 inches (1,029 mm) tall.

We’ve all heard of the story – in 1963, Henry Ford II reportedly wanted to buy over Ferrari to compete at Le Mans, spending several million in audits and negotiations, only to have Enzo Ferrari pull out at the last minute. This was said to have incensed Henry so much that he was determined to beat Maranello at its own game. He did, of course – the GT40 won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four consecutive times from 1966 to 1969.

This particular GT40 is the road-going Mk III, only seven of which have been built. Compared to the previous Mk I and Mk II racers, this has four headlights, a wider rear end to make room for luggage, softer dampers and a 4.7 litre V8 engine that has been detuned to 335 hp.

Despite over 45 years separating the GT40 and the new GT – and despite the new car featuring a space-age aero-inspired look – the two do share some common design cues hinting at the lineage. Both cars have low shark-like noses, wraparound windscreens, large twin round tail lights and muscly rear haunches terminating at rear spoiler flicks.

The new Ford GT will go into production late next year, just in time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the GT40’s first Le Mans win. The carbon fibre-bodied supercar will be powered by a mid-mounted 3.5 litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 producing over 600 hp, sent to the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.

2016 Ford GT at 2015 Geneva Motor Show