Beautiful Machinery


Go Like Hell, by A. J. Baime, is an engrossing account of the battle between Henry Ford II and Ferrari for dominance at the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance road race.  Winning races sold lots of cars, and Ford was in to win.

As a boy, I built models of all the racers, read magazines about the events, and watched movies like Grand Prix.  I was not very interested in the races themselves, or the racers, or the nationlistic and team competition – it was the cars I loved.  They are amazing feats of engineering, brutal and beautiful at once.

The Ford GT40 is the car that took the trophy away from Ferrari, and I had a Cox slotcar version of it, with real magnesium wheels and functioning knock-off wingnuts on the wheels.  It had an enormous engine – the ultimate muscle car.

The Ferrari P3, the answer to the Fords. It looks like a metal sheet was thrown through the air to drape itself over the chassis. Curvaceous, refined, sensual.

Ferrari 330 P3

Carrol Shelby, the Ford racing team developer, with the Ford GT40 Mark IV, my all-time favorite.  The raw power of the original GT40 has been fitted into an aerodynamic sheath that restrains its curves in a way, typical of British design, I’ve read, with a rectangular footprint, the sides parallel all the way from front to back.

Ford GT40 Mk IV


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