There’s a story going around that Ford thought about using a Ford Mustang instead of the infamous Ford GT to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
From 1966-1969 the Ford GT dominated Le Mans over the more popular Ferrari team. When Ford returned to the 24 Hours of Le Mans 50 years later in 2016 they beat Ferrari yet again. But according to Automotive News on their exclusive piece of information that dropped earlier today (Apr. 6,2017) at least one guy was seriously considering using the Ford Mustang over the Ford GT. Ford’s head of global product development, Raj Nair, put out a couple of studies to have the Mustang compete in the race instead of the GT. Check out a couple of photos of the Ford GT at Le Mans last year below and read on for the full story.
The story goes that Raj Nair was responsible for proposing the whole project to resurrect a racecar to bring to Le Mans to beat Ferrari. Ford management rejected the idea because it was too expensive at $250,000 per car. Nair insisted they use a Mustang which Ford didn’t think the Mustang needed the accolades of an endurance race to make the Mustang a global car. The whole Le Mans project was scraped…that is until Raj Nair went rogue.
With a much smaller budget and just a little more than a dozen people, the Ford GT was codenamed Phoenix and all care was made to make sure that no resources were wasted and the project was as efficient as possible. In a move that can be characterized as asking for forgiveness than for permission, Raj Nair brought each person who rejected the Ford GT down to the development center and each signed off on the project. The rest was history and the Ford GT took first, third, and fourth place at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Although a Mustang would’ve been interesting, to say the least, we’re glad that this rejection birthed the Ford GT. Aerodynamics is key in racing and the teardrop shape of the Ford GT definitely fits the persona of a true GT race car.
If Ford management had approved the Mustang, we wouldn’t have the 2017 Ford GT we have today. And if Raj Nair didn’t go rogue, Ford would’ve never had the foresight to win at Le Mans again.