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IXO Ford GT40

By Mark Savage
Published: June 11, 2013
Ford GT40 group
Ford's GT40 is the most beautiful enclosed race car ever made, and one of the most successful too. That's my design bias, but the GT40's success can't be argued.

Funny thing, it was created to settle a score at the highest levels of the automotive world. In the early 1960s, Henry Ford II was rebuked in efforts to buy Ferrari and declared war on the Italian sports car maker and race team. The GT40, originally with a Lola chassis and various Ford V-8 engines, was his weapon.

By 1964 the first GT40 was raced at the Nurburgring 1,000km endurance race and then the 24 hours of Le Mans, where three were entered and one led. All failed to finish. Ultimately, the GT40 would win four straight Le Mans 24 Hour endurance races from 1966 through 1969 — a remarkable run that ended Ferrari's reign as the Le Mans champ. Ferrari has not won Le Mans since.

With the annual endurance race being run in late June, this is a good time to look at what the diecast world offers regarding the only successful U.S. manufacturer's race efforts.

IXO wins the battle for high-quality at moderate cost. It offers the complete Le Mans set of winning GT40s in 1/43 scale and in special Le Mans packaging: a bright blue sleeve with red "24 Heures du Mans" printed on top and an open slash in the sleeve that resembles a stylized outline of the racetrack. The opening in the sleeve allows you to see the car, and a special cardboard insert photo of the Dunlop bridge — a track icon — is inserted between the acrylic case and sleeve. In a group, these make a spectacular visual display in any collection.

The cars, each sold separately for $34.99, include the black 1966 winning Mk. II driven by Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren; the red 1967 Mk. IV driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt; and the blue-and-orange Mk. I racer (the first GT40 version) that ironically won last, gaining wins in 1968 and 1969.
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1967 Ford GT Mk. IV, Le Mans winner, Foyt/Gurney
 
The Mk. I had slightly different markings and remains the only individual car that has won Le Mans twice. In 1968 it was driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi, and in 1969 by Jack Ickx and Jackie Oliver. The Mk.I used Ford's 4.9-liter V-8. Note that in 1966, the Fords finished 1-2-3 at Le Mans in what turned out to be a controversial photo finish that gave the win to Amon and McLaren.

For this review I had the 1967, 1968, and 1969 winning cars, which look spectacular, especially for 1/43 scale. The red Mk. IV has a radically different body style from the Mk. I models in their Gulf markings, but there are subtle differences among them all.

Detail on the 1967 winner is impressive, with red spinner wheel nuts, Goodyear-labeled tires, a big windshield wiper (it always rains during Le Mans), chrome mirrors, and the appropriate body air vents for the big V-8. In back are four stacked lights and twin pipes. In front are twin enclosed headlamps, the Gurney bump in the rood (because Gurney was a tall driver and need the headroom), plus white stripes that run the length of the car and along its sides. At this point, sponsorships were minor, so only a Ford logo graces the car.

The 1968 and 1969 winning cars are nearly identical, but a few details separate them. The screening on the trunk lid is drastically different in each: the 1968 model's screen looks like a simple grate to let heat out, and the 1969 model's screen has nine symmetrical holes. Both include Gulf logos, but the 1969 Mk. I includes one with a checkered flag behind it; Firestone, Autolite, Koni Shocks and Girling decals on its sides; and a S.E.V. Marchal logo over the rear wheels wells with Trico Ferodo logos behind the wells. The 1968 model has fewer logos overall.

For the record, the 1968 is No. 9 and the 1969 is No. 6. The paint jobs are good and the colors are vibrant. And yes, they appropriately have Firestone-labeled tires. None of the cars have detailed engines, but do have a representation of their muscular V-8s showing through the rear windows, which included riveted trim that looks like it's holding the windows in, and decals on the side windows to approximate the sliding insert windows drivers could use to increase air flow in the cockpit.

I've only seen pictures of the 1966 Mk. II and its 7.0-liter V-8, but I imagine its quality will be up to the other Ixo models. Ixo offers a variety of other notable GT40s, including versions that won the 24 Hours of Daytona and several that were competitive at Le Mans and Daytona but didn't win. All are expertly detailed and include proper markings.

These are good-looking, affordable models and easily can plug any Le Mans racer holes in your collection.

Vital Stats
Product: Ford GT40
Maker: IXO (available through Replicarz and finer hobby stores)
Scale: 1/43
Stock Nos.: LM1967, LM1968, LM1969
MSRP: $34.99 each

Prefer 1:1 cars? Visit www.savageonwheels.com to read full-size new car and truck reviews by Mark Savage.
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