This monster was parked one morning last week on the Strip - looking very hip, in a retro way. These go for one hundred forty to one hundred seventy thousand a pop. It's a Ford GT - the modern "homage" to the GT40 of the mid-sixties. But you can't buy one. This is one of the last. The production run ended with the 2006 model year, on 21 September 2006, with 4,038 cars produced. And next year Ford is closing the Wixom Assembly plant where the GT is assembled. They just posted a record loss of twelve billion dollars for the last quarter. Things just aren't going that well for them.
The sixties? In 1966 you might have caught A Man and a Woman - the wildly popular Claude Lelouch film. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays a test driver for Ford in France, and does a run in a GT40 (but he probably wasn't actually driving). Anouk Aimée plays the widow who falls for him, even if she doesn't seem much interested in cars - she lives up on rue Lamarck in Montmartre and reads the leftie rag Libération, the paper founded by Sartre, among others. Like she cares?
But the Ford GT40 won the 24 hours of Le Mans four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969. The Ford people wanted to show the damned Italians we could do what they do, and we could do it better. Ferrari had won Le Mans six times in a row, from 1960 through 1965, so it was time to show them what the Americans could pull off in the Grand Tourisme category. The rules required an overall height of forty inches - thus the name. And the Ferraris used those dinky little three and four liter V12 engines - so we came with the big block V8 iron, finally running a seven liter engine. Americans don't do finesse. It worked.