DEARBORN, Mich. - The Ford Motor Company Archives has a treasure trove of material related to the GT and Performance Programs. Last year, we even hosted a media event on the development of the GT40 Program and the ultimate victory at Le Mans, where we showcased some of the documentation, design drawings, correspondence and artifacts related to the program. The star of the event was retired Ford Motor Company Engineer Mose Noland, who had been part of the winning 1966 team.
Don Eichstaedt, another retired Engineer, approached Mose because he had some GT paperwork that he wanted to make sure was preserved. Before joining Ford, Dan had worked with Kar Kraft and had overseen the build of the Mark IVs for the 1967 race, including the Dan Gurney/A.J. Foyt winning car.
Based on Mose’s recommendation, Don contacted me and we arranged a socially distant meeting at our Archives building. When we met last month I was astounded by the materials he agreed to donate to the Archives. They were a treasure trove of documents and filled some critical gaps in our holdings. I wanted to highlight a few of the items.
The first is the Testing and Development Booklet from the GT and Sports Car Project for the Advanced Vehicles Division. While the story of the initial test run at Le Mans has been told many times, this booklet gives first person accounts and documents each of the trial runs of the GT. Via the project summary of the beginning of the booklet, we can track the development and refinement of the cars throughout 1964. I have highlighted two test events, the initial trial of the car at the M.I.R.A Proving Grounds in England on April 8th 1964 and the first trial at Le Mans on April 18th, 1964. As you read through the reports, it becomes apparent that the cars still needed considerable work before they could be considered race worthy. The most glaring issue was the cars instability at high speeds, not what any driver wants to hear on a track where top speeds could be in excess of 200 mph.
The second document I want to highlight is the John Wyre Illustrated Parts List. Many people forget that while the racing versions of the GT40 were winning the headlines and races at Le Mans, a passenger version of the GT was also being produced. After Ford Motor Company closed the Advanced Vehicles Division after the 1967 racing year, John Wyre, who had been working on the program, opened J.W Automotive Engineering Limited to produce the street version of the GT40. These vintage vehicles are extremely rare and quite valuable. The version of the parts list that Don donated was the first I had seen and will be a tremendous addition to our collection.
While our Archives has amazing holdings (16,000 cubic feet of paper material, more than 1 million photos, countless films and videos stored in an environmentally controlled space,) due to a referral from Mose and the wonderful generosity of Don, we now have some new treasures to add.