We gave them the famous victory – but, 50 years on, Ford won’t let us buy into their tribute car. Not that this has stopped a couple of Kiwis trying to lay hands on the new GT supercar.
KIWI enthusiasm to buy into the Ford supercar taking the Blue Oval back to Le Mans this year in celebration of a famous Blue Oval motorsport moment achieved by New Zealanders is strong – even though the maker has not favoured this country for delivery.
At least two New Zealanders are among wanna-buy applicants for the V6-engined supercar, created in honour of this year being the 50th anniversary of Ford’s famous breakthrough win at Le Mans, in which Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren took the victory and Denny Hulme in a sister GT40 came second.
Interest has skyrocketed with the recent launch of the GT online configurator. News yesterday that the application count now holds 7000 names will hardly lift the local aspirants’ confidence.
Ford has already confirmed that production numbers of the new GT will be far fewer than that of the previous-generation GT, of which 4000 units were made.
Yet this hasn’t dissuaded a couple of Kiwis.
“There is interest here, absolutely,” Ford New Zealand corporate affairs spokesman Tom Clancy said.
“We understand there are a couple of people who are working hard to secure examples of the car.”
The Auckland-based distributor can seemingly do little to help the local enthusiasts beyond wishing them luck.
New Zealand is not among the countries considered for the car. Neither is Australia.
That’s not necessarily because it is only being produced in left-hand-drive. The United Kingdom, for instance, is still down to receive at least 20 units.
“I can’t really explain why that is,” Clancy said.
“But they (the Kiwis signalling interest in the car) understand they have to go through other means to acquire one.”
That essentially means they will have to try to get on an application list in a favoured market.
“Then they will have to go through the same application process as everyone else.”
Aside from the UK, the cited recipient countries include the United States and Canada, China, Japan, the Middle East and some European countries.
While the local showroom has been snubbed, the NZ link to the famous victory, which came because Ford wanted to exact a revenge against then dominant Ferrari after a buy-out bid of the Italian performance house failed, is still being recognised on track.
Auckland-raised Scott Dixon is among the drivers chosen for the works effort mounting this year’s return.
A class win is possible but much less so an overall victory because, these days, the GT class is no longer the dominant category. That role falls to LMP1, where Kiwi chances rest with Porsche works driver Brendon Hartley of Palmerston North.
Clancy agrees there is every reason for New Zealanders to want to buy into the GT and what it stands for.
“It is a great car and there are definitely people with the means to buy. People are pretty enthusiastic about the vehicle – they’ll find a way, I’m sure.”
Ford has indicated first deliveries of the GT in road car form begin after Le Mans but has yet to set a price, though talk is that it is tipped to place at around $820,000. Only 250 units are to be produced this year.
The model maintains the mid-engined layout of its famous forebear but differs in ditching its predecessor's V8 engine in favour of a twin-turbo 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6. Ford claims a power output of more than 441kW.