Friday, 16 September 2011

Ford of Britain 100: Image of the Week - 37/52

To celebrate the centenary of Ford of Britain in 2011 the company is exploring its photo archive to reveal rarely seen images. Ford's unique relationship with Britain and its society is being illustrated each week by specially selected pictures.

Ford has enjoyed many successes in motorsport but one of its rarest creations came about thanks to a failure. In 1970, on the way back from an unsuccessful Monte Carlo Rally, Ford’s then competitions director Stuart Turner, and Ford rally driver, Roger Clark, discussed the need for a light and simple mid-engined car capable of taking various engines.

The result was the GT70. Ford drivers, including Hannu Mikkola and Timo Makinen, contributed ideas for the interior and Len Bailey, one of the Ford GT40 design team, was tasked with designing a car "strong enough to win rallies and light enough to win races". Just six chassis were completed and the GT70 featured in this week's image has remained in Ford ownership since it was built.

A combination of WRC rule changes and the versatility of the up-and-coming Ford Escort saw development of the GT70 curtailed. This rare GT70 last saw competitive action in the French tarmac championships in 1973 before going into storage. In 2002 it was fully restored, including fitting a 2.0-litre BDA engine and Hewland gearbox, and saw its first competitive action for nearly 30 years at the 2002 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

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