Best of the Web: F vs F week, actor speaks about the GT40 he drove

We drove a Superformance GT40 racing replica… and it was even better than the real thing

Ahead of the release of Le Mans ’66, the tale of Ford versus Ferrari, GQ takes Christian Bale’s place aboard a ‘continuation’ GT40

It was a David and Goliath story, although who’s David and who’s Goliath depends on your point of view. Ferrari was a small company, but it dominated the European racing scene and built the world’s most exotic artisanal sports cars. Ford was the biggest car company on the planet, but it made cheap, practical mass-produced family cars and hadn’t gone anywhere near motorsport. They decided to buy Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari was willing to sell the road car division, but when, at the contract signing, he spotted how the American corporation planned to take control over the racing business too, he closed his purple-inked pen, waved the legal papers away, made a short, spittle-flecked outburst directed at Henry Ford II (in unprintable Italian) and left for lunch with his consigliere, never to return.

From that moment, on 21 May 1963, the battle lines were drawn. “Hank The Deuce” went straight back to Dearborn and told his people to build a car that would “kick Ferrari’s ass”. It took a few goes, but in 1966, with more than £55 million spent on development (£1.1 billion in today’s money!), Ford’s GT40 scored 1-2-3 at the Le Mans 24 Hours and took the spoils again in ’67, ’68 and ’69. Ferrari, who was victorious in every race between 1960 and 1965, never won Le Mans outright again.

One hundred and five race and road-going examples of the GT40 were built in Slough, UK, and Wixom, Michigan, between 1964 and 1969 and today values run the gamut between £3m and £10m. But you can buy a “continuation” GT40 for less than the price of a Lamborghini Huracán.

Built in South Africa by specialist Hi-Tech Automotive, the California-born Superformance GT40 has a lot more going for it than a mere “replica”. Carroll Shelby, the man who led Ford to those mighty endurance victories, gave Superformance his thumbs-up to construct officially designated GT40/P numbered chassis. So, it’s not a genuine Ford, but it is a genuine GT40. It’s licensed by Shelby and Safir GT40 Spares as the only true GT40 continuation car and is eligible for Shelby American Automobile Club and GT40 registries.

Because it’s almost impossible to tell the difference between an original and this 2019 car, Hollywood film Le Mans ’66 uses Superformance GT40s for race scenes.

Eighty-five per cent of this car’s all-new parts are interchangeable with the original’s, including the pressed-steel monocoque. The GT40 is a notoriously tight fit, but Le Mans Coupes Ltd, Superformance’s Gatwick-based UK distributor, will customise it with a “Gurney bubble” (allowing a couple of extra inches’ headroom) if required, and set the seat and pedal box accordingly. The “40” in its nomenclature is a nod to the GT’s height – just 40 inches from the ground to the top of the windscreen. Be careful not to decapitate yourself when you shut the door, the line of which extends to almost the centre of the roof for aero efficiency.

The car GQ is taking out is based on the GT40 Mk1, with a 1966 number plate and, perhaps more importantly, a savage 5.7 litre Roush V8, which produces 450bhp and 465 lb ft of torque. At 1,150kg, which is pretty much identical to the original, it’ll hit 60mph in sub-four seconds.

One major difference is fuel injection, which is essential for passing modern homologation emissions standards, though to look at the block you’d never really know, unless you start counting wires. Despite the lack of carburettors, the sound is still maniacally epic. Behind the period seats, in which one lies almost horizontal, 347 cubic litres of Detroit guts and muscle pants, coughs and barks, impatient to be uncaged.

The iconic dash is an uncomplicated, rugged strip of round Smiths instruments and labelled toggle switches. Dead ahead is the rev counter. The speedometer is placed way to the passenger side of the cockpit where you’d expect the glovebox to be, angled sideways. The tight gearshift, linked to a Quaife RFQ transaxle, is mounted on the door sill as was the original. Likewise, first gear is dog leg. The throttle pedal is stiff and you have to press it more than an inch before the power feeds in, while the clutch is easy to balance.

There’s so much feel in the seat of your pants thanks to the H&R springs, which can be upgraded to adjustable Öhlins. It’s a very physical car to drive due to the lack of power steering. Potholes are liable to snap your wrists, but the Avon CR6ZZ tyres are so high-profile you’re in no danger of kerbing a wheel. This car’s rubber footprint is enormous: 215/60 R15s at the front and 295/50 R15s at the rear – race carcasses with civilian tread. Really, the GT40 is designed for smooth, French asphalt, but works well on both road and track and is easy to control in slippery conditions.

The car is sleepy under 2,000RPM, and then it cocks an eyebrow. At 3,000 it gets on its feet and starts to snarl. Between 4,000 and 6,000 it bares its teeth, digs its claws in and tears for the horizon. Injection actually enables a broader power range than carbs. The noise is like Dolby-processed adrenaline; an operatic, frantic, ear drum-warping yell. It’s difficult to know how fast you’re going because looking at the speed could be catastrophic. It might not be even 60mph, but the noise is so thrilling it feels like 200. This, on the Mulsanne Straight, must have felt like Apollo 11 on lift-off. Le Mans Coupes can sort a 560bhp 7-litre V8 if you want to go even faster. Check with your otolaryngologist first.

There are, of course, no driver aids. The only safety net is improved cross-drilled ventilated Wortec brakes, which stop better than the Sixties solid discs but still look period. The gears are designed to deal with higher power. Those are pretty much the only differences; it has a central handbrake and an immobiliser and the seats sit on the chassis rather than “helicopter straps”. The two fuel tanks are set to “auto-bleed”, rather than the driver having to manually switch from one to the other. There’s air conditioning where the spare tyre would have been, although later Ford GT40s had AC as an option. That’s it. Otherwise, this is the same as the Mk1.

V Max can be altered according to gearing. For road use, or a track like Goodwood (Superformance will build you a 100 per cent accurate “tool-room” car eligible for the Members’ Meeting and FIA historic racing), you’ll want a shorter fifth gear than you will at Le Mans, but feasibly this car can go over the double ton. This one tops out at 180mph.

Our car is priced at £162,000 fully built, while road-going MkII versions cost from £165,000. An FIA-eligible race car, with its Historic Technical Passport, is around £265,000. Superformance has sold 450 of these continuation cars worldwide, and 50 in the UK, since 2007.

It’s more powerful than the original, more reliable and more economical. Yet only a certified GT40 anorak could ever spot the difference. It was good enough for Carroll Shelby, not to mention Matt Damon and Christian Bale who play Shelby and British driver Ken Miles in the movie. And it’ll save you millions compared with an original GT40. Pull up next to a modern Ferrari in this and you will win – at a standstill, at least. Just listen to the noise! The car should win the Academy Award for Best Original Song all on its own.

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Best of the Web: Tiny Toyota, it’s a thing.

Toyota is getting serious about electric cars and plans to have a portfolio of electric-driven models come 2025. Serving as the dawn of this new era is this little dude, which the Japanese automaker calls the Toyota Ultra-Compact Battery-Electric Vehicle.

This is not a concept, nor a drill. This electric city car is headed to production, the automaker said in the model’s online debut on Thursday. Like its size, the Ultra-Compact BEV is meant for short-distance travel. Drivers won’t be getting too far on a full charge, since there’s enough range to take drivers 62 miles, Toyota estimates. Then again, the automaker underscored this wasn’t designed to be a long-distance hauler.

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Saving for a Car–Sage Advice Part 3

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Op-Ed by Paul Wimsett and AR Bunch

Following on from the information Sage Advice #2

A car is one of the biggest expenses we have at any one time and a source of constant frustration. Sure, home ownership will come with lots of things that need fixing from time to time, but cars are moving things full of moving parts. It’s a whole other level of ability to destroy itself from the moment you buy it.

Good advice starts with this…get a high yield savings account especially for the car and label it, “fix or replace.”

You may decide to trade-in your current car, or sell it for cash, to help with the down payment for the next car, but that’s not adequate. You don’t want to be financially destroyed by unexpected auto breakdown. These things happen at the worst time.

Searching the market to get the right account for this. It might seem over-cautious but owing for a car is one of the ways that debts accumulate over time. No one here is legally qualified to give you financial advice, but we’ve done enough research to know that savings accounts do exist, that give a slightly higher interest rate in exchange for limiting the number of times you can access it per year. That’s what you want.

Putting as much down as you can will reduce your monthly payment, which is turn lets you squirrel away a little bit toward your next down payment. The idea is to turn some of the money you pay in interest on a car loan into money you’re paid interest on when saving toward your next car loan.

Obviously your going to potentially dip into this account for big repairs but that’s not something you can include when doing the math. (Just consider the decision to fix your current car as delaying the purchase of the next car so your adjusting the timetable buy the amount you’re taking out of savings now.) So for the purpose of doing the math work only with saving toward your next purchase.

Doing the math:

A quick word about maintenance; you should try to keep your car at least five years, which shouldn’t be difficult with regular oil changes and tune ups. (Do not take oil changes/tires/gas etc out of your repair fund—those are operating expenses.)

percent-226316_1920Even though your car SHOULD last five years, assume that you’ll need at least the down payment for new one in two years. There is no telling what sort of car you’ll buy in two to five years, or what it’ll cost, so look at the newest model of the same car you own now. What’s the price of a 2020 Honda Civic, for example? $21,650

What’s price will that car be when you buy it 3 to 6 years from now?

Some models depreciate better or worse than others and an individual car might fair worse than others of the same model. Most cars depreciate about 20% in the first year and 15% each year after that so that 90% of the value is gone in 10 years.

At this rate our Civic should sell for about…

2023 $12,514
2024 $10,637
2025 $9,042
2026 $7,686

The fast way to double check the numbers is to compare to KBB.com when the time does role around. But for the sake of pedicting we’re we’ll use these numbers.

Price will have fallen in half by the year 2024 which is why we’re recommending buying a car 3 to 6 years old. Whenever possible put 20% down and take out a 60 month or shorter loan.

$10,637 x 20% = $2,128

To save that in 2 years just divide it by 24 months = $88.65/ month.

Other Car expenses:

Look to budget for car-related expenses, insurance, roadside assistance, taxes & registration and so on. What is the best way to pay these bills? Would it work out cheaper monthly, quarterly or yearly? Obviously the bills come when they come, but be sure to increase the size of your regular savings to account for saving toward those expenses.

Try to limit your expenses, which is easier to say than to do! Experts we know say that household accounts are where money tends to evaporate and your efforts will be in vain if you leave the heat up on vacation, etc.

Secrets to Saving:

The secret to success is automating your savings. This sounds a bit glib, but there are ways your bank can automatically move money to saving each month so you don’t have to think about it.

Know the bank’s rules on overdraft should you have to take one out.

Other sources of Money for a Car:

Some folks have been able to take out a second mortgage, leveraging the equity in their house instead of financing car? The logic behind this, is that borrowing larger amounts of money results in a lower interest rate. On the downside, your house is essentially securing your car.

As we mentioned in part one of sage advice, if you are buying your first car, you’re probably involving “the Bank of Mom and Dad,” but beware of the stress in family loans can put on relationships. Find out how much are they willing to spend and ask if they need something in writing?

Overall Budget Considerations:

Experts say you shouldn’t spend more than 20% of what you take home on your car. You might have to play this one by ear though, for a low paid job 20% might not be a lot.

Keep in mind cars are a handy tool, but a terrible investment. So don’t make sacrifices to have a nice car. A lot of this advice has been boring common sense, more than sage advice, but it’s a good idea to think logically about cars.

What’s news: truck wars continue.

You may have noticed that we’re not weighing on the auto workers strike. In one hand it’s a fairly cyclical thing, natural to collective bargaining and on the other it represents an utter failure on the part of an industry that is doing it’s best to ignore deeper issues and no one is really innocent.

In other words, why report on the staff if the Titanic rearranging deck chairs. When they start working together to be relevant again that will truly be news… until then it’s back to something happy.

Here’s more on the battle for truck dominance.

And here is an interesting take on third quarter sales.

Best of the Web: supercar auction?

Credit Bonham’s

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Swiss authorities confiscated the luxury stash of vehicles from Obiang in 2016 after an investigation into money laundering. All the cars were sold without a reserve price and none had racked up more than just a few thousand miles

Best of the Web: New Honda CR-V… hybrid

  • Honda is adding a hybrid version of the CR-V compact crossover for 2020, which promises significantly higher mpg.
  • Other 2020 CR-V models get revised styling and a few new features, while the base 2.4-liter engine is gone, meaning the turbocharged 1.5-liter four-cylinder is now standard.
  • Nonhybrid 2020 CR-V models will go on sale this fall, with hybrid versions arriving at the beginning of next year.

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What’s New: Walmart and Tesla tussle over solar panel fires.

  • On Tuesday, Walmart filed suit against Tesla alleging its solar panels had caused fires at seven of its stores.
  • Tesla short David Einhorn tweeted Friday, “A recall should have happened long ago” and that CEO Elon Musk should resign.
  • Walmart and Tesla said in a statement Thursday that they “look forward to addressing all issues and re-energizing Tesla solar installations at Walmart stores, once all parties are certain that all concerns have been addressed.”

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What’s News: Elon Deletes tweet…

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk had harsh criticism of ousted Tesla co-founder Martin Eberhard over the weekend.
  • In a now-deleted tweet, Musk said “Tesla is alive in spite of Eberhard, but he seeks credit constantly & fools give it him.”
  • The billionaire also tweeted that he had deleted his Twitter account (which was not true as of Monday morning), and received criticism for comments about the necessity of crediting artists for their work.

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