In automotive history we had many legendary and unrepeatable masterpieces, but today they are just beautiful memories. Sure, there are many replicas that try to reconstruct the charming looks of these old beauties, but the real challenge is to bring the true nature of these legends back to life.
Yeah, we know this goal is hard and requires a good dose of compromises, and also they may not share the same history, value, and materials, but still, these tributes can get close, if you know what you’re doing - and that’s what are we talking about today, a fantastic Ford GT40 Replica.
So, on a cold January evening, a few days before the “Blue Monday” I had a note marked in my agenda saying, “Call Nicola - GT40”.
Now, I love my job. I enjoy chatting with other petrolheads about cars. It’s not like making burgers (which I used to do in the past), but sometimes I meet these Ego maniacs that start talking about how many Ferraris they used to own and how cool it is and blah blah… to these people, I usually answer with “Wow, cool...” and I never reach out to them again.
With this call, I hoped I wasn’t going down that road.
So, I called Nicola who owns a Ford GT40 Replica. The interview went much better than I expected. Nicola is a pure petrolhead and from the start, I understood who he was. A specialist, a student, a real one.
We talked about everything. From technical specification, to the many books that Nicola has read about the GT40 world. I was amazed by how much he knew.
Towards the end of our chat, I recommend a book to Nicola about the original GT40 and especially the story of Ken Miles (which deserves a tv-show written by Vince Gillian, but that’s another story) and then he pulled out the whole story of Carrol Shelby and those rascals that built that masterpiece in a remote garage in UK…so the 20 supposed minutes call became an hour and a half.
If you don’t know the story (you will go to hell…) the GT40 was produced by Ford from 1964 to 1969 to compete with Ferrari in all major competitions and basically it started the “Ferrari-Ford Battle”.
There were so many projects and proposals from Cooper, Lola, and Lotus but at the end Lola was the one they chose. The Lola program had a lot of versions with the first Ford GT prototype spec, and subsequently the Mk1, Mk2, the Mk3 road car, J-car/Mk4, Mk5, Mk1B, and Mk2B.
Several versions of the V8s were used (255, 289, 302, and 427ci), to test them, two nice and not very famous gentlemen were called, Carrol Smith and Carrol Shelby, who preferred the Eric Broadley project. To summarise, a big mess. There have been many changes over the years…but the rest is history.
At this point I believe you’re wondering: when does he talk about the car? Damn guys, patience…I’m getting there.
When I saw that 1968/69 Ford GT40 Replica, I was stunned. That’s some Heavyweight stuff - weighing about 950kg with a roaring V8 and 370hp - aggressive but elegant.
A small note, there was never a “definitive” version of the GT40. There were very tiny details separating versions from each other, so if you are building a tribute, the choice is yours.
Nicola told me that his Replica is a tribute to John Wyer’s 1968/69 GT40 – which also won Le Mans in those years.
He started looking for every piece and found a body and chassis of a Tornado vision of the Mk1 from an English company that made it following the original measurements and to stick to his vision it was shaped like a GT40 P/1083, the last one ever produced. Of course, as a petrolhead it was impossible for him to use electronic injection, so his project required the original Weber IDA 48 carb setup.
Oh, before I forget, Nicola was keen on emphasising that it’s all engine torque and at the rear it has two 345 large PIRELLI tyres, so the secret is “Non fare il Pirla” (It means “don’t be fool with it” in MIlanese)
He also told me that people go crazy when he goes around Milan and if we had nothing to do in our lives, we’d probably have chatted for hours about John Wyer, Ken Miles, Sir Shelby, and the rest of the crew, but we had to let each other go (here comes the sad song) and promised each other that one day we’d talk again. I hope to spot him in the streets of Milan, you know, it’s kinda hard not to see him.
I deeply thank Nicola for turning that ugly and cold day into a good one. It’s always like that when you find someone to talk to about cars, you know.
Are we weird? Maybe.
PS: a message to Vince Gillian. Just in case you really mean to make a tv-show about Wyer, Miles and Shelby, I suggest you call Nicola, he would be an excellent advisor.
Nicola and his beauty are on Instagram, follow him: @gt40milano | Wonderful pictures by @supercarsofmilan