Ford has produced some of the most iconic race cars of all time. Many are widely unknown to the general public, but have won several titles in addition to simply being ultra-cool speed demons. Additionally, some of the most important figures in racing have driven these cars. You may not be able to find Ford’s iconic race cars at your local Ford dealer, but you’ll still spot some ultra-fast rides, including various Mustang models.
Ford Lotus Cortina
One of Ford’s most iconic race cars is the Lotus Cortina. As the name suggests, this car is a collaboration between Ford and the British automaker Lotus. Ford provided the critical components for this collaboration, the engine and the chassis, while Lotus did the rest. However, people often consider it to be much more of a Lotus car than a Ford.
First produced in 1963, the car is famous in the world of racing as it has won a number of titles, with one of the most important being by Jim Clark when he earned his British Sports Car Championship title. Other famous racers who drove the Ford Lotus Cortina are Jackie Stewart and Mike Beckwith, both of whom won the Marlboro 12-hour race. The Allan Mann Racing team also used it for the European Touring Car Challenge.
This little race car has a small 1.2L engine, a four-speed manual transmission, and weighs about 1,995 pounds. The Ford Lotus Cortina also experienced success in rally racing, though not nearly as much as some of its rivals. Nowadays, the little race car is a pretty hot commodity as it sells at auctions for the price of brand-new cars. The problem is that they are pretty hard to find. Ford only produced about 3,306 MK1 models and 4,093 MK2 cars.
Even people who aren’t into racing know the Ford GT40. Perhaps this is because of the automaker’s more recent hypercar, the Ford GT. The GT40 came about in 1964 and is one of the company’s rarest rides. Ending production in 1969, there were only 105 of them made. Still, its legacy endures as many racers have driven the GT40. In fact, the car won the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 through 1969. Notably, it broke Ferrari’s winning streak as it rose to prominence. Some of the notable racers who drove the GT40 are Ken Miles, Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, and Chris Amon.
The GT40 got off to a bit of a slow start, as it didn’t get a lot of victories early on. Still, people often call it Ford’s best race car. Today, it’s a hard car to find. Like the race car, the more modern Ford GT is also a rare beauty that reminds the world what Ford can do with speed and power.
Ford MK IV
The Ford MK IV is, in many ways, just an evolution of the GT40. However, its chassis and body design are different enough that it stands on its own. Though iconic, the Ford MK IV only participated in two races. Both were in 1967, with one being Le Mans and the other being Sebring, but it won both races it entered. Though it’s technically a separate car from its more famous sibling, people often refer to this two-race winner as the Ford GT40 MK IV.
Notably, both Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt drove this fabled car. It has a top speed of 212 and won against the competition despite weighing more. It may not have as many races under its belt as other Ford race cars, but it still holds an important place in automotive history.
Ford Escort RS 1800
Most people know the Ford Escort as the automaker’s compact car from the 1980s through the 2000s. However, there’s a version much more iconic than the affordable economy car: the Ford Escort RS 1800. Developed specifically for rallying, it won the world title in 1979. The RS1800 has a naturally aspirated 1.8L engine, which led to its name.
Though the world mostly remembers the rally car version, Ford built 108 street versions for it to be allowed to compete. Today, the rally version is still a highly sought-after car for gearheads worldwide. As one may expect, they are pretty rare. While this isn’t the only Ford Escort used for some form of motorsports, it’s easily one of Ford’s most important race cars. It’s also notable because the regular Escort had such a huge place in the general automotive world. For a time, it was Ford’s “world car.”
Ford Focus WRC
One of Ford’s more recent race cars is the Focus WRC from 2006. Unfortunately, despite being fairly revered, the car didn’t claim a top spot in a race until 2006 and 2007. The Ford Focus WRC is perhaps most known because of gaming. In fact, the gaming generation that focuses on racing games would probably call the car a favorite. Still, it’s easily one of the most underrated of the automaker’s race cars due to not having nearly as many wins as others. The car competed from 1999 until 2010.
The Ford Focus WRC participated in 173 races. Although it only won 44 events, the car sat on the podium 142 times, proving that it was consistently quick. Unfortunately, the regular Ford Focus is much more famous than the racecar. Still, it serves as a genuine underdog story.
Ford Mondeo Super Tourer
The Ford Mondeo is another of the most important Ford race cars, and the Super Tourer takes the cake when it comes to the history books. The Ford Mondeo Super Tourer made its mark in Group A racing. Notably, Paul Radisisch won the World Touring Car Cup with the car in 1993 and 1994. Formula 1 champion Nigel Mansell also drove the car. Of course, there are far more well-known Ford race cars than the Mondeo Super Tourer, but it’s still an important part of the automaker’s legacy.
Nowadays, the car is still well regarded. Additionally, the non-racing Ford Mondeo is still available, but primarily in China. Still, gearheads mostly remember it as an iconic race car.
The Ford Falcon supercar is another of the automaker’s more recent successful race cars. Of course, the Falcon has been around for years, but the car really began to gain a reputation in 2003, when it won the Bathurst 1000 V8 Supercars race in Australia. This race car has a 5.0L V8 engine with a maximum output of over 600 horsepower. Fans with the means can find various Ford Falcon supercars at auction.
Ford Is a Versatile Automaker
Most people know Ford for producing everyday vehicles that you see on the road. However, the automaker’s race cars prove that Ford is a jack of all trades. Sure, Ford can make options like the Fiesta and the regular Escort, but also it has a long history on the track. Throughout the years, various Fords have competed with the likes of Ferrari, and in many cases, like the GT40, come out on top. Additionally, many of these race cars still fetch a pretty penny at auctions, though some are in museums.