Ford's motorsport department was a force to be reckoned with in the later half of the 60s as portrayed in Ford Vs. Ferrari, specifically on the streets of Le Mans in northern France. Fueled from the ashes of failed acquisitional negotiations with Ferrari, Ford created the GT40 program to beat the Italians at their own game on their home turf: the racetracks of Europe.

Related:16 Things Most People Didn't Know About The Ford GT40

Ford's Race Car For The Road

Ford GT40 Mk3
Via Salon Prive

The MkIII was the Blue Oval's attempt at recreating their endurance racing success in the consumer market, as well as a homologation requirement dictated by the Le Mans rule book. Taming the GT40 for road use would prove to be considerably tricky, however, given the regulations for race cars like the MkI and MkII were far more lenient than those for a road car.

Although the MkI had been converted for the street on more than one occasion, such examples retained far too much of their motorsports pedigree to be a comfortable daily driver. As a 1968 CAR Magazine road test on a transformed MkI read, although the car "...stuck to the road like porridge on a blanket" and "drew more stares than a nun with her knickers in her hand", it was nothing more than a "cheap-jack load of junk" under its fiberglass bodywork.

It appeared as though taking the fight out of the dog was going to be more of a challenge than Ford anticipated.

A Look At The MkIII

Ford GT40 Mk3 - Shelby Archives
Via Shelby American Collection

Unlike the converted MkIs before it, the MkIII was engineered for a more leisurely road-going experience, while still retaining an essence of Ford's motorsports prowess.

Elongated bodywork wrapped made room for luggage compartments (albeit large enough for a briefcase or two), an ashtray was added to the less-than-lavish interior and the shift lever was relocated to the central position. Until then, GT40s had primarily been right-hand-drive, with the lever between the driver's seat and the driver's side door.

While the MkIII was praised for its power and handling, there were still hesitations surrounding the car's overall build quality and the difficult gear shifts that resulted from changing the shifting mechanism.

Of the seven produced, four examples of the Mk3 were left-hand-drive. Only three were delivered to customers, the rest ending up in Ford's hands as promotional vehicles.

Related: Here's How Ford Won Le Mans Four Years Running

1967 Ford GT40 Mk3
Via Hamann Classic Cars

Even with its 500lb 289ci grumbling lump of a V8 sitting midship, the MkIII was designed to keep power high and weight low sitting at a 2,600lb curb weight. Its relatively docile 306hp was more than enough to move the MkIII to race car speeds exceeding 160 miles per, which was definitely fast enough for 1967 technology.

This particular left-hand-drive example was ordered by Herbert von Karajan, conductor for the Berlin Philharmonic and co-composer for the soundtrack of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The artist recognizes art.

The car went on to change hands a few times in Europe before landing in the US in 1976. 24 years later, the Peterson Museum picked up the car at auction for a mere $325,000 and has resided in Los Angeles ever since.

That $325,000 seems like pocket change compared to the $2.5 million the car is estimated to be worth now.

1967 Ford GT40 Mk3
Via Hamann Classic Cars

Dripping with prestige and heritage, the MkIII was born from the time Ford dropped everything to beat old man Enzo Ferrari and his team of screaming Ferrari P4s out of pure spite.

The most unfortunate aspect of the MkIII is probably the incredibly limited production run. Anyone in the 60s could have picked up a MkI, raised the ride height on cushier suspension, choked the race-proven motor and slathered the interior in leather but could never have been what the MkIII set out to achieve.

At an MSRP of $18,500 in 1967 ($152,000 today), the MkIII was $2,000 more than the MkI road cars before it. Ford had sunk $70,000 ($600,000) into the developmental car, and found it difficult to justify continuation of production.

That said, Ford never intended to make money with MkIII sales. Le Mans regulations at the time stated that a number of homologation examples of competition race cars had to be produced for road usage, and thus the MkIII was created to fulfill those requirements.

Refined daily driver or hodgepodge homologation special, the MkIII allowed a (very) select few to experience a slice of Ford motorsport history. When the GT40 crossed the finish line for the last time at the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans, I like to think Von Karajan was grinning from ear to ear as he took his MkIII the long way home from work that day.

Sources: Classic Driver, Jalopnik, Supercar Nostalgia

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