The Start

The Ford GT40's construction is, in large measure, the source of its great success. Years later, this revolutionary engineering also leads to extraordinary challenges for a proper restoration.

Load bearing bulkhead-and-skin, or monocoque, design was just beginning to come into favor for racecar construction in the early 1960's after becoming the standard for high-performance aircraft during World War II. The monocoque chassis, or "tub", provided significant gains in strength and rigidity while attaining a substantial weight savings over tube-framed designs. The "crumple zones" formed in this construction also provided a major advance in driver protection in an age of ever-increasing speed.

The designers of the original GT40 tub briefly considered using the riveted aluminum construction of the aircraft industry. The unfamiliar materials and techniques involved would have added considerably to the development time of the design. They decided to use instead the auto constructor's tried-and-true fabrication of spot-welded sheet steel.

Racecars are generally considered by their builders to be disposable items. Those that survive the wars intact are quickly rendered obsolete by the march of technology and discarded.

[Bottom View of GT40 tub with sheeting removed]
Bottom View of GT40 tub with sheeting removed.
As such, niceties like the rust-proofing of steel structures is non-existent. The GT40 tub has hundreds of "nooks-and-crannies" inside that were not protected by so much as a coat of primer paint.

Now, years later, we find that these decisions have created an often overlooked, yet substantial, challenge to restoration...

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