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A GT40 for the 50th

The Superformance version looks and feels a lot like the legendary original.

What better way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40’s monumental performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans than to own an example of the car—or a very close likeness to it? With its slinky design lines, muscle-bound bulges, and distinctively low roofline that rises just 40 inches above the pavement, the Superformance GT40 MK I Wide Body (superformance.com) bears a striking resemblance to the racecar that took the top three spots at Le Mans in 1966. The first-place finish was the first of the GT40’s four consecutive victories at Le Mans.

The Superformance version should look—and drive—like the original. After all, according to the Irvine, Calif.–based company, 80 percent of the two cars’ parts are the same. “They’re not continuations or replicas; they’re real GT40s,” insists Doug Campbell, a sales representative for Superformance, which also builds and sells cars based on Shelby Cobra roadsters, Shelby Daytona coupes, and Corvette Grand Sports.

The Superformance GT40s are the only models licensed by the company that holds the trademark rights to the GT40 name, Ohio-based Safir GT40 Spares. So these cars may be as close as you can get to an original GT40, the road-going version of which can sell for $4 million or more.

A Superformance GT40 rolling chassis starts at just under $110,000. The price escalates to $165,000 when the car is equipped with a complete drivetrain and rises higher with the addition of various options. The engine choices range from small-block V-8s to big-block power plants with as much as 9.6 liters of displacement. Options include leather trim and custom paint, roll bars, front canards, and roundel lights like the ones on the cars that screamed down the Mulsanne Straight a half century ago.

Superformance provided a test vehicle equipped with a right-hand-drive and right-shift configuration similar to the setup of the Le Mans–winning cars. When you’re sitting behind the wheel in the steel monocoque, your back is flat against the seatback and your legs are bent sharply at the knees. Analog gauges like those in the original GT40 wrap around you, and the V-8—in this case, a small-block Ford Racing 302 stroked to 5.9 liters of displacement—produces a screaming 500 hp and 450 ft lbs of torque. 

Driving the Superformance GT40 is at once thrilling and terrifying. The car can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 3 seconds flat, but it has no traction control or antilock brakes. It is equipped with air-conditioning and comes with a 1-year warranty—concessions to modernity that owners are no doubt happy to make.