Ferrari had won Le Mans five years in a row. Then, after a failed takeover of the Italian brand, Ford launched its own car, the GT40, which failed miserably on debut in 1964.
The following year Ferrari was looking to continue its dominance at Le Mans. Ford had reworked the GT40 and entrusted it with a new team in the hopes it could give Ferrari a run for its money. The rest of the competition merely played a supporting role in the 1965 edition.
A total of six brand-new Ford GT40s appeared at Le Mans in June. Spearheading the field were two prototypes of the second-generation GT40, called the Mark II. Shelby American had prepared the cars as the new Ford works team. They were fitted with 427-cubic inch big block V8s at Kar Kraft in Detroit. The remaining four Fords were powered by 325-cubic inch engines and entered by Rob Walker, Scuderia Filipinetti, FAV John Wyer and Ford France.
Ferrari countered the Ford armada with three factory prototypes, two four-litre 330 P2s and one 275 P2, supported by a 4.4-litre 365 P2 each from the North American Racing Team and Maranello Concessionaires. The five Ferraris and six Fords were considered the contenders.
In addition, Ferrari entered five 250 LM prototypes. The Berlinetta 250 LM wasn’t intended to fight for outright wins at major endurance races – that was the job of the ‘P’ prototypes. Instead, the 250 LM was to cover the GT class as the successor to the 250 GTO. But when the FIA refused to grant the car GT homologation, it had to run in the prototype category like its bigger brothers.
Basically, the 250 LM was a closed version of the 250 P. It shared the mid-engine design of the prototype as well as the 2.4-metre wheelbase and a number of body features. The first example was powered by the familiar three-litre V12 engine, hence the ‘250’ designation. The subsequent cars had the 3.3-litre engine. According to Ferrari’s system at the time, they should have been named ‘275 LM’, but officially the car retained its ‘250’ designation…
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