When Ford designed the new GT car it was created for a single purpose: win the Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro class. In 2016 it did just that at the first attempt.
In order to compete in that class, Ford had to follow strict rules demanding it built a road-going version, which is why a lucky few will get to own a 647bhp race-bred supercar with registration plates – granted they can stump up the £420,000 price tag.
But may will have to wait, with just 25 a year being made for UK customers. In fact, it was almost 12 months to the date that the GT took the chequered flag at Le Mans that Ford UK received theirs.
Year in the making: The Ford GT won at Le Mans in 2016. Some 12 months later and the first UK-registered model has arrived in the UK
Ford is hardly the first company to make a racer for the road.
Numerous manufacturers over the years have created road-registered versions of their racers – referred to as ‘homologation’ specials.
Here are ten of our favourite reverse-engineered track heroes you can drive on the road (if you have a bulging bank account).
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Ford GT (2017)
Road (front) and race (middle) versions pictured with a first-generation GT40 in the background
It only seems sensible to start with the mighty Ford GT, with its 3.5-litre twin-turbo Ecoboost V6.
The 647bhp engine is just the start, with a Track suspension mode that drops the ride height 50mm so quickly it’s like you’re being dropped off air jacks.
This is a phenomenal car for the road – as it should be with a retail price of £420,000.
Ford GT40 (1964)
An original GT40 racer pictured in 1968 at the Spa Franchorchamps 1000km race in Belgium
Ford made a limited run of road cars based on the Le Mans winning car from the 1960s
The new car is of course following in the wheel treads of the 1964 GT40, which Ford created with partner Lola.
It’s said Ford only created this car to get back at Ferrari after the Italian company pulled out of a takeover bid for Ford. It worked.
The GT40 won Le Mans every year from 1966 to 1969. The road car even had the same glassfibre shell as the racer, and the same 4.2-litre V8, slightly detuned to 335bhp.
Ford Sierra RS Cosworth (1986)
The Sierra wasn’t selling well in the early 1980s. To get customers excited, Ford created RS Cosworth models to compete in the touring car series
The Ford Sierra RS Cosworth was born from those competition models – it had 204bhp, which was 96bhp short of the race cars
Ford turned to Cosworth to make a 300bhp touring car racer, using a reworked Sierra as it had the ideal rear-wheel drive layout and good aerodynamics.
Ford made 5000 for the road with a 204bhp engine and a really keen price tag.
The RS500 went on to win championships all over the world, in both touring car and WRC rally series. An RS500 Cosworth version – built in very limited numbers – sold at auction last weekend for almost £115,000.
Alfa Romeo 155 Silverstone Edition (1994)
Alfa Romeo wanted its British Touring Car Championship racer to feature a big wing, but because the 155 didn’t have one it had to release a special edition version
This turned out to be the 155 Silverstone pictured – it had a small wing and revised bodykit compared to the normal 155
These homologation specials are all about meeting or sort of meeting the rules, and this Alfa is a classic example.
Alfa wanted a big wing on its racers, so it made 2500 specials with a lot of extra bodywork including a big wing.
Except they didn’t fit it, they put all the necessary parts in the boot for you to sort out. That way, it met the rules and went on to win the 1994 BTCC. The rules changed for 1995.
BMW M3 GTR (2001)
BMW created a range of M3 GTRs with a bigger 4.0-litre V8 engine so it could compete in touring car championships in Germany and around the world
This is what you can do if you’re BMW.
You decide you want to go racing in sportscars and that you need an M3 with a 4.0-litre V8. You don’t appear to have one. So you make ten of them to meet homologation rules, then you go racing.
The weight loss was a staggering 220kg, although power was detuned from the racer’s 493bhp to ‘just’ 380bhp.
Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR (1997)
The FIA GT Championship demands that all race cars need to be – loosely – based on a road-going model. In order for Mercedes’ CLK GTR to compete, it had to make some with indicators and registration plates
Mercedes built just 25 CLK GTR road cars. They’re worth around £2million today
There were 25 of these made for the road, as part of the regulations for Mercedes to enter the FIA GT championship in 1997.
There’s a 6.9-litre engine with 604bhp under that extraordinary bodywork.
Not the ideal transport for going shopping, if only because of the somewhat limited space for groceries.
Mercedes-Benz 190E 2.5-16 Evolution II (1990)
German brands take the DTM Touring Car Championship very seriously – hence the arrival of the Mercedes 190E Evo models
This is one of the Evolution II cars, which had 235bhp. Only around 1,000 of these cars ever made it onto the road
Mercedes decided to compete in the German DTM touring car series and then decided to enter with just its lowest-level compact saloon, the 190E.
You can’t miss the spoiler or the arches or the lowered stance. The engine gave 195bhp in the Evolution I guise but this was tweaked to 235bhp in Evolution II shape, with an even bigger wing.
Mercedes made about 1000 of the two variants, a generous supply of road cars.
Peugeot 205 Turbo 16 (1985)
The 205 Turbo 16 is one of the iconic cars of the Group B rally generation along with the Lancia Delta Integeale and Audi Quattro
Peugeot had to make 200 detuned versions of the rally animal in order to compete in the World Rally Championship
This didn’t look all that different to the regular front-driven, front-engined 205 but underneath it had a mid-placed engine driving all four wheels, all the better to take on those pesky Audi Quattros in WRC.
This was a car with an unlimited design budget, with a huge amount of tech and power crammed into a sort-of 205 body.
Peugeot made 200 for the road and detuned the monster to 197bhp.
Porsche 911 GT1 Strassenversion (1996)
The Porsche 911 GT1 was built specifically to win the Le Mans 24 Hour race. It did in 1998
Porsche had to make 25 GT1s for the road. It did and it is now one of the most collectible cars of the ’90s. Most are held in museums
This was a pure racer, converted for the road, much like the current Ford GT40.
The racer won Le Mans in 1998 and this ‘street version’ had an identical 3.2-litre, twin-turbo engine with 592bhp – it was mildly detuned only so it could meet emission regulations.
Renault R5 Turbo (1980)
The Renault R5 Turbo was the dominant force in World rallying in the early ’80s – that was until the four-wheel-drive Audi Quattro turned up and changed the game
This rear-wheel drive supermini had a turbocharged 1.4-litre engine. Some 400 were made to abide by WRC regulations.
It’s hard to know how successful this could have been, because its four wins in WRC between 1981 and 1986 were brought to a bit of a halt by Audi launching the four-wheel drive Quattro.
But before that this rear-wheel drive, mid-engined Bertone-styled Renault 5 had cut quite a dash with its 1.4-litre turbo engine and mad styling.
Renault made 400 road cars to meet the regulations.