The Ford GT70 Prototype Is a Forgotten Mid-Engine Rally Racer

Gotcha! By no means heard of the Ford GT70? We’re not stunned; Ford constructed solely six GT70 prototypes constructed earlier than it canned this system within the early 1970s.

Rabid, well-informed Ford followers know Ford of Europe is actually a semi-autonomous unit working beneath the larger Ford umbrella; it develops its personal automobiles, vans, and vans for consumption throughout the pond. Sometimes, us Yanks get a crack at some European product—the prior Focus, Fiesta, and right this moment’s Transit van being examples—however we have been by no means aware about a few of Ford’s hotter European stuff, together with the superior Ford Escort.

Beneath Ford of Europe’s purview, Ford U.Okay. made fairly the identify for itself on the big-time rally stage within the late 1960s, chalking up wins throughout the continent within the mini-but-mighty Escort, culminating in a sound defeat on the 1970 Rallye Monte Carlo on the tailpipes of devoted sports activities automobiles just like the Porsche 911 and Alpine A110. As Ford had already put the brakes on the profitable however massively costly GT40 program within the late 1960s, Ford of Europe’s motorsports department hoped to capitalize on the less-costly world of rallying. It needed to create a purpose-built sports activities automobile to reclaim previous rally glories, and it set to work after the Monte Carlo loss. Therefore, the Ford GT70.

The corporate tapped mid-engine mastermind Len Bailey for the automobile’s major design; Bailey already proved his mettle as a key developer on the GT40 and subsequent failed P68 challenge.

The concept was easy, however carried a number of issues, particularly the requirement that the ensuing design be robust sufficient to win rallies—and fast sufficient that it might play effectively on the race circuit as effectively. On high of that, with a purpose to qualify for the beginning grid to start with, it must be production-friendly sufficient to facilitate a 500-odd run of buyer automobiles.

The ensuing Ford GT70 was promising. The svelte fiberglass physique—penned by Ercole Spada—hid both a 1.6-liter DOHC 16-valve Cosworth BDA four-cylinder, or a hopped-up, mid-mounted 2.6-liter Cologne V-6, and a five-speed guide transaxle. Energy was reported to be someplace between 200 horsepower and 240 hp, relying on engine and tune—greater than sufficient for the 1,700-pound GT70.

Sadly, early testing revealed a body that lacked competent rigidity, and the few races the Ford GT70 entered have been plagued with mechanical issues and teething points. Regardless of a sizeable preliminary funding, Ford misplaced curiosity, and the Escort continued to deal with Ford’s rally duties till later success with the Sierra and Focus. Ultimately, solely these six Ford GT70 prototypes have been constructed, quite than the initially deliberate 500-unit run.

So, not fairly the success loved by the GT40s and later GT road cars, however the failed Ford GT70 stays one of many extra fascinating bits of the corporate’s historical past, even whether it is principally misplaced to the sands of time. Need extra? Hold an eye fixed out at classic motorsports occasions in Europe—a number of Ford GT70 prototypes are nonetheless seen sometimes on the competitors stage.

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