Superformance SPF GT40 - Familiarity Breeds Perfection
The New Superformance SPF GT40
October 02, 2006
All contributors: D. Brian Smith
Back in 1962, Henry Ford II was frustrated that The Ford Motor Company's reputation for high-performance engineering was suffering. So much so he mandated that Ford abandon the 1957 Automobile Manufacturers Association ban on racing. The company then launched an all-out offensive called "Ford Total Performance." With the ambition of winning the two most prestigious race events in the world-the Indianapolis 500 and the 24-hour Grand Prix d'Endurance at Le Mans-Ford was going racing in a big way.
To win at Le Mans Ford needed a mid-engine, 200-plus-mph racecar that could average more than 120 mph over a 24-hour period. In '63, Ford had nothing even in the design stage with that sort of performance potential. What did Henry II do? He began negotiations with Enzo Ferrari to purchase the famed supercar company lock, stock, and prancing horse. Ferrari had won the last five Le Mans. While negotiations continued, Ferrari's perceived value increased. Huge Italian auto manufacturer Fiat took notice. Enzo terminated talks with Ford and began discussions with Fiat, which resulted in Fiat backing the supercar manufacturer financially while allowing Ferrari its independence.
Now Henry II really wanted to win Le Mans and best Ferrari in the process. He talked with Lotus, Cooper, and Lola. Lola had one of the most advanced mid-engine racecars at the time, the Lola Mk 6, also called the Lola GT. Ford paid for a one-year collaboration with Lola car manager Eric Broadley, as well as two Lola Mk 6 chassis. A hand-picked team of international automotive engineers and racecar drivers formed a new Ford subsidiary in Slough, England, named Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd. John Wyer, ex-Aston Martin team manager, directed the team, which included Broadley, Ford engineer Roy Lunn, New Zealand drivers Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, as well as American racer Ken Miles.
The first Ford GT premiered at the Nurburgring 1000km race in May '64 and later that year at Le Mans. After a couple of years of rapid refinement, the GT40 Mk II was built. Campaigned at the '66 Le Mans, Mk IIs swept the field, finishing 1-2-3, with McLaren and Amon in 1st place, Miles and Denis Hulme in 2nd, and Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson earning 3rd. Throughout the remainder of the '60s, GT40s continued their reign at Le Mans with 1st overall finishes.
Fast forward to the new millennium. After four years of engineering and development, replicar manufacturer extraordinaire Superformance began producing the GT40 MKII A, a faithful replica of the original that tore up Le Mans in '66 and continued terrorizing racetracks throughout the '60s. The Superformance SPF GT is so exact in detail, over 90 percent of the vehicle's components are interchangeable with the road-going version of the original car and chassis.
While covering the '06 London Cobra Show, KIT CAR had the opportunity to photograph a PPG Titanium-hued SPF GT from Superformance distributor Dynamic Motorsports. Editor Smith drove down to Dynamic's main headquarters in Ross, Ohio, after the autocross on Sunday to photograph the stunning racecar. Following Rosen piloting the GT40 on the curvy rural roads of Ross was no easy feat. Smith attempted to keep up in a Hyundai Sonata rent-a-car. Miraculously, no squirrels were squashed while en route to the outdoor photo shoot.
After returning to California, KIT CAR met the CEO of Superformance, Lance Stander, at the company's U.S. location in Irvine. We received the grand tour of the facility, went for a thrilling ride in a PPG Porsche Midnight Blue GT40, and photographed this beauteous beast in SoCal. Lance informed us that the SPF GT40 is considered a continuation serial number car from the holder of the famous mark, Safir GT40 Spares LLC in Milford, Ohio. Basically, the only way to obtain a more genuine GT40 than the SPF GT would be to plunk down however many million dollars it would take to purchase one raced in the '60s, or one of the 32 built and detuned for the street.
Built from Ford Advanced Vehicles blueprints, the semi-monocoque chassis and pressed steel roof spider are an exact replication of the original. Twice as stiff as a Formula One chassis of the era, the exceptional GT40 structure was state of the art, and now the SPF GT is too. Over 280 fabricated 16-gauge and 18-gauge welded steel components comprise the rigid Superformance GT40 monocoque chassis structure. All suspension components are exact copies of the original and are interchangeable as well. The same is the case for the catches and latches, oil coolers, Bundle of Snakes tubular exhaust headers, and taillights. According to Superformance and Safir GT40 Spares LLC, there is no more correct GT40 manufactured anywhere. The Superformance manufacturing facility in South Africa is currently shipping eight cars per month.
Like all Superformance cars, the SPF GT40 MKII A is sold as a complete precision-crafted rolling car and chassis excluding an engine and transaxle. The introductory price is $69,000. Superformance and its dedicated network of dealers can recommend qualified shops to professionally install the drivetrain.
The Titanium and Midnight Blue GT40s both have Roush 427R-251 engines, which began life as Ford 351 Windsors. Thanks to 40 years of advancement in automotive engineering and race development, these stroked small-block mills produce more power and are lighter than the original 427FE big-blocks that went in some of the racing GT40s. The same holds true for many other components on the SPF GT40-the super light and effective Wilwood brakes being a prime example.
Have you ever stopped to wonder what might have happened if Henry II and Enzo had come to terms? We would have never had the GT40, and Ferraris might look much more like a Ford Taurus than a sleek supercar. Companies like Superformance wouldn't have worthy vehicles to replicate so exquisitely and exactingly. What a scary thought.
The fuel-injected Roush 427R-251...
The fuel-injected Roush 427R-251 engine has Roush aluminum cylinder heads with premium stainless steel valves-2.08-inch intake and 1.6-inch exhaust. Internally balanced, it sports a forged crankshaft and pistons with a 10.25:1 compression ratio. Spent fumes exit via original-style Bundle of Snakes tubular exhaust headers.
Smith gauges fill the dash...
Smith gauges fill the dash panel. As original, the steering is adjustable, the wheel removable.
Original-style seats with...
Original-style seats with silver rivets offer authentic comfort for up to 24 hours of seat time.
As with the genuine article,...
As with the genuine article, the door panels have Lexan panes with air vents.
Unlike the racing GT40s, high-capacity...
Unlike the racing GT40s, high-capacity air conditioning comes standard. Superformance cleverly placed the HVAC controls in the driver-side door panel.
The front pane is glass. Notice...
The front pane is glass. Notice the two pop-up fuel filler doors as original, for filling the tanks under each doorsill.
Since a dry-sump oiling system...
Since a dry-sump oiling system isn't used, a faux dry-sump shell in the original position covers the custom-built air-conditioning system.
The driver-side Gurney bubble...
The driver-side Gurney bubble roof comes standard, or it can be smooth. As with the first GT, the roof is made of pressed steel. The car was first known as simply Ford GT, but became the Ford GT40 because of the height of the top of the roof from the pavement-40 inches.
|1966 Ford GT 40 Mk II Le Mans Winner||Superformance GT MKII A |
|Test weight with 150-lb driver||2,862||2,550|
|Race weight, lb||2,682||2,400|
|Weight Distribution front/rear, %||38/62||40/60|
|Track front/rear, in||57.0/56.0||56/59|
|Overall length, in||163.0||163|
|Width (over scoops), in||70.0||70.5|
|Frontal area, sq ft||15.8||15.8|
|Fuel tank capacity, gal||42||20|
|Family||Ford FE||Ford 351W|
|N. cyl & type||V-8||V-8|
|Bore x stroke, in||4.232 x 3.784||4.125 x 4.000|
|Displacement, cu in||427||427|
|Bhp @ rpm||485 @ 6,200||550 @ 5,600|
|Torque @ rpm, lb-ft||475 @ 4,000||535 @ 5,200|
|Carburetion||1 x 4 bbl||EFI|
|Gear ratios, transmission/overall|
|1st||2.22 / 6.18||2.58 / 9.73|
|2nd||1.43 / 3.96||1.61 / 6.07|
|3rd||1.19 / 3.30||1.14 / 4.30|
|4th||1.00 / 2.77||0.846 / 3.19|
|5th||0.642 / 2.42|
|Transfer gear ratio||0.899|
|CHASSIS & SUSPENSION|
|Frame type||Semi-monocoque, sheet steel||Semi-monocoque, sheet steel|
|Brake type||Vented disc, single caliper||Vented disc, single caliper|
|Tires||Goodyear "A"||Yokohama Avid|
|Front||9.75-15(250/60-15 approx.)||225/60R15 (test)|
| 275/60R15 (test)|
|Steering type||Rack-and-pinion ||Rack-and-pinion|
|Front suspension||Independent with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs, tube shocks, anti-roll bar||Independent, with unequal-length A-arms, coil springs, tube Shocks, anti-roll bar|
|Rear suspension||Independent with trailing arms, unequal-length lateral arms, coil springs, tube shocks, anti-roll bar||Independent with trailing arms, unequal-length lateral arms, coil springs, tube shocks, anti-roll bar|
gearbox oil temperature
|Warning lights||differential oil pressure|
engine oil pressure
radiator cooling fans
|Engine rpm @ 60 mph||1905||1811|
|Lb / hp (with driver)||5.8||4.6 |
|SPEED IN GEARS|
|mph @ rpm|
|1st||89 @ 6200||53 @ 6400|
|2nd||140 @ 6200||85 @6400|
|3rd||170 @ 6200||120 @ 6400|
|4th||205 @ 6200||161 @6400|
|5th||207 @ 6230|
|Time to speed|
|0-40 mph, sec||2.8||2.1|
|0-60 mph, sec||4.2||3.7|
|0-80 mph, sec||5.6||4.8|
|0-100 mph, sec||8.2||6.9|
|0-120 mph, sec||10.8||9.2|
|0-140 mph, sec||14.0||11.8|
|0-160 mph, sec||19.1||15.3|
|0-180 mph, sec||27.0||21.7|
|Time to distance|
|Quarter mile, sec @ mph||12.0 @ 129||11.2 @ 135|
|Steady state mpg in top gear|
*Comparison Data from Superformance LLC