The Ford J-Car has a brief but important history in motorsports and the development of the infamous GT40 Mk. IV GT.
The J-Car was developed after Ford’s initial losses to Ferrari at Le Mans in 1964 and ‘65. In 1966 Ford brought a J-Car along with a fleet of highly developed GT40 Mk. II’s. Ford ran the J-Car in the Le Mans trials, but did not enter the new car as to focus on the GT40's. The strategy paid off. Ford had finally beaten Ferrari at Le Mans with a spectacular 1-2-3 finish.
This was the height of the Ford vs. Ferrari war at Le Mans. Ford had tried to purchase Ferrari and was very close to sealing the deal, until Enzo read one small clause in the purchase agreement. The clause stated that Enzo would be relieved as head of Ferrari’s racing division. Upon reading this, Enzo simply left the meeting and refused the deal. No negotiation was going to sway the Italian’s mind.
The J-Car would continue development until one fateful day at Riverside raceway in California. Driver Ken Miles, who was quintessential in the development of the GT40, was killed in an accident during testing.
The J-Car would later be fitted with new, more aerodynamic body work, and renamed the GT40 Mk. IV GT. The new Mk. IV would go on to win Le Mans in 1967 in the very capable hands of A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney.
The Hot Wheels version of the J-Car went through its own development stages. The casting was produced in both the U.S. and Hong Kong and in most Spectraflame and a few enamel colors.
The early J-Car casting have a transmission clearly visible in the engine bay. This allowed the rear of the car to be opened very wide resulting in many castings loosing the rear body work. To alleviate this issue, Hot Wheels added a piece to the casting to limit the angle of the engine cover. This change eliminated the transmission detail from the casting.
Some later castings, unlike these four, have a stronger hinge at the back and a lack of the louvered grills at the rear corners on top of the engine cover.