The success of the Ford GT40 at LeMans in the 1960s, and the resultant movies, documentaries, and literature that have come out related to the model, have helped cement the car’s place in automotive history. That endurance racecar is a Ford legend. However, what is unknown is that Ford also created a GT70 model with the aim of competition.
Ford had great success in the 1960s with the GT40 in endurance racing. But, endurance racing is only one segment of motorsports. Rally racing was a big draw for people back then and still is today. So, Ford launched a program to develop a vehicle that would dominate in rally racing as well.
The GT70 is born
The Ford Escort was at the time winning races for Ford UK in touring events. But, the GT70 was also designed to take on speed events that Porsche and Renault were strong competitors in. Borrowing on the GT40, the 1970 GT70 was developed with the engine behind the driver in a mid-engine configuration. Although rally cars can be fast, this one was designed to reach 180 miles-per-hour. It was no slouch. The car was also being developed for sale to the luxury sportscar consumer, not just the track.
The concept for the GT70 came to life on the back of a postcard. From there, engineers and design teams took the ball and ran with it. They created a 5-speed transaxle mated to a 2.6-liter V6 out of the Capri. A low drag body was created that is reminiscent of the 1967 Ferrari Dino and a Ford GT40 love child. Handling for the car was neutral, which is desired in a racecar. The plans for 500 to be built as a luxury flagship were shopped around Ford divisions.
The GT70 dies
Things came to a screeching halt, however. Trouble in the middle-east, changes in racing regulations, and an update to the Ford Escort that made it competitive once again all made the idea of launching another expensive race program unappealing to the top brass at Ford. So, plans were scrapped in 1973. The GT70 program was dead.
Only six were made
According to Octane Magazine in May 2015 wrote that only six of the lightweight, fiberglass cars were built. Three of them actually raced. A fourth was used as a press car. The fifth was sent to the Ghia design house and fitted with a different body. The sixth was used as a development car for further racing exploration.
The Ford GT programs of the 1960s and 1970s certainly produced some amazing cars. The original GT40 is the one with the name recognition. By contrast, the GT70 is pretty much unheard of car. If it had been approved, there is no doubt that it would have made a recognized name for itself. The combination of a lightweight vehicle with a mid-engine set-up is something hypercars today are still using as a basis. And, some of those hypercars do not even race. Sadly, we will never know.