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Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Ford GT40 and GT's from Hot Wheels, Matchbox, and Johnny Lightning



Recently I acquired the latest Ford GT40 from Matchbox in its first debut in the 1-125 mainline.  This casting has been around since 2004 and is based on the original Superfast casting that debuted in the 1960's, but this version really brings out the best in this casting.  To not be confused there is a difference between this and the modern Ford GT that was introduced in 2005, and also with the Hot Wheels and Johnny Lightning versions as well.






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Ford GT40

It was Henry Ford II's main goal: to beat Ferrari at Le Mans in the 1960's.  With the help of Carol Shelby Ford created their own Le Mans racer.  GT means Grand Touring and 40 is the height measured in inches from the road and was based on the technology used with the partnership between Ford and Lola before Ford created their own race car.  The first race the GT40 entered was the 1964 Nurburgring 1000 and encountered several versions over the years.  Mark I has the 4.2L V8 from Mustang while the Mark II used the new 427 CID V8 from the Galaxie.  Mark III was made for civilian production with room made for a trunk at the rear and four headlights.  Mark IV borrowed the new J-car's smooth aerodynamic bodywork.  What makes this car iconic is the amount of races it won, including the famous 1-2-3 finish at the 1966 Le Mans.  To get one of these on the road today your best bet is a certified and approved kit builder to make a GT40 custom built to your taste to enjoy the GT40's racing pedigree on the road.






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Hot Wheels was first with their GT40 casting in 1999.  Actually this was the second after the original J-car Redline in the early days of Hot Wheels.  Painted in blue with racing decals it looks ready to race, and what the other variations have shown later on it still retails that race car look for most of the recolors.  The front has smooth headlight covers, detailed foglights, and lower grille scoop, front fender mirrors,   The side profile shows off the peaked front and rear fenders and the low slung shape, while the rear has the round taillights and a separate base piece latch to support the center exhaust and vent covers.  The interior has the correct dashboard shape in right-hand drive format and detailed seats, but seems mild against the Matchbox version.  Like the Matchbox GT40 the engine bay area shows off mostly the eight throttle stacks for the 427 CID V8 and 4-speed manual transmission.  Many of the other variations include the red with flowing blue racing graphics, the white with blue stripe and blue with orange stripe from the 2005 line (I believe the blue one is the K-mart special one in 2005), and the unique one in yellow with only a redline logo on the right-side of the B-pillar to denote the redline series version with redlines on the 5-spoke wheels.  There were a few bad ones, but otherwise all of the GT40 variations has held up to the racing deco, and that's not a bad thing for a very good casting.






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Of course, Matchbox had to get into the act as well.  In 2004 the new Superfast line was gearing up and Matchbox wanted to create a few legends to begin the new line, and one of them was a new version of the original Superfast Ford GT40.  The white one shown here features a blue 6 stripe, silver headlights, red taillights, and silver on the eight throttle risers.  The wheels are the classic Superfast type, but on this car they are too small for the rather large wheelwells.  For 2015 the GT40 makes its first appearance in yellow with no racing stripes or numbers; instead the front has a GT40 plate where the front Euro plates would normally go, detailed headlights, taillights that go with a blacked-out trim, and the blacked-out spinner wheels that fill the wheelwells nicely and look great on this car.  Additionally, changes have been made to this casting to include revised side window openings and the rear base is now rivited instead of sloted, and now in return the exhaust pipes are now part of the metal body.  The Matchbox GT40 has a smoother front-end with a one-piece hood vent for the radiator, lack of exterior mirrors, detailed gas caps, hood pins, wraparouind windshield, toned down, but still visible fender flares, and a lower rear decklid that houses the slots from in the taillights to above them.  The interior has a dashboard with detailed round gauges, 3-spoke steering wheel, and detailed front seats.  If there was one problem with this casting it would be its confusion with the new Ford GT Matchbox released in 2005.





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Ford GT

In 2002 Ford released a GT concept that was a modern interpretation of the original Ford GT40, but this one was designed as a road-going supercar that can also serve itself on the race track.  In 2005 the Ford GT was released and sold until 2007 when production ended.  4,038 GT's were made over the years and became the hallmark in Ford's future revival for some reason.  It looks like the original GT40 until you get to the rear where the rear bumper was added, taillights were large and included integrated reverse lamps, the exhaust mounted lower, and a rear diffuser was added below.  The interior was left-hand drive and while it looks like the original GT40's layout, comfort features like power accessories, air, and radio were added.  The engine in the back is now the 5.4L DOHC supercharged V8 that produces 550 hp. and 500 Ib-ft. of torque through a six-speed manual transmission.  The GT will enter stage two in 2016 with the new GT that has a more revolutionary look, a race car built to compete in Le Mans, and powered by a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 and the transmission will now be paddle-shifted.  Look for replica's of the 2017 Ford GT next year.








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The Matchbox version was released in 2005 in red with white stripes.  The front has detailed headlights, foglights below, and a lower chin spoiler.  The grille has the Ford Trucks-like twin nostrils and air flows out the hood in two separate channels.  The mirrors are now on the A-pillar, the windows now roll down, and a taller rear spoiler.  The rear fenders are now the only part that is flared up, while the rear has the round taillights, twin nostril back vent to match the front, and dual exhaust tips in the center of the diffuser (and for some reason paint likes to get trapped in the exhaust tips as shown here).  The interior shows off the dash layout with the round gauges, shifter, and seats nicely done, while the engine are shows off the supercharger and some of the valve cover details in the relatively tight window area.  There has been several variations made, some of them really nice including the Superfast models, but my favorite are these two 2006 recolors: Gulf Blue with orange stripe and the orange with black stripe and blacked-out wheels (the only version with these blacked-out wheels).










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On the other side at Johnny Lightning they released their version of the Ford GT at the same time, and this one is much more superior over the Matchbox version.  The ride height sits a bit higher and it lacks the front chin spoiler, but otherwise it has detailed front headlights, foglights, lower bumper, stripes, and Ford logo at the front; detailed window trim, door handles just ahead of the doors, and lower Ford GT stripes on the sides; and round taillights, black scoops, and plate area at the rear and note the rear diffuser does not stand out as much as the Matchbox version.  The interior has much more finer details of the round holes in the front seats, the console shifter and buttons, and the gauges and three-spoke steering wheel.  The base is metal and features details near the engine area, while the engine bay not only gets the detailed supercharger and valve cover blocks but also they get color so you can easily tell the difference between the blue covers and silver supercharger.  This first release is the nicest one by far, and yes it has been released a few more times but rarely as good as this one and then the casting disappeared like most other Johnny Lightning castings after 2007.







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Now you probably seen that Hot Wheels has been out of the new Ford GT picture for a while, but then in 2007 and 2009 they responded with the Ford GT-LM (not shown) and this Ford GTX-1 roadster.  The GTX-1 was sold as a custom version of the Ford GT between 2006 and 2008, and not entirely by Ford: it was conducted by the Genaddi Design Group.  The GTX has a new roof that consists of two panels for easy storage and a redesign engine cover that has two flowback headrests and two slats for the engine cover to breathe.  Otherwise it was fair and square a stock Ford GT.  This Hot Wheels version was rather toonish-looking despite the nice attention to detail.  The lower front bumper is more rounded off with fenders that are short and rise up a little bit.  The rear wheels are so large that they almost take over the rear fenders, while the taillights are part of the chrome interior piece.  The yellow and blue versions show off the nice stock look with the dual roof and side stripes, this time with GTX-1 instead of GT on the sides, silver door handles and detailed headlights.  The interior is more readily visible with the detailed dashboard layout, shifter, and the supportive seats with the inner circles.  Even the A.C. controls behind the shifter are shown in this interior layout, while the supercharger barely pokes out of the two slats in the rear engine cover.  Aside from these two recolors there was also the primer black with gold accents and gold chrome interior.  Some like this casting, but I don't because the body proportions are way off and are unsettling to look at.



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Hopefully this lesson will show you the differences between the Ford GT40 and Ford GT.  Some are obvious while others are not so much.  At least when the new 2017 Ford GT comes out next year we will be able to distinguish that one, but until then just remember if it has a rear bumper and just GT in the name then it's the 2005 Ford GT.









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