For months, Ford Motor Co. has been trumpeting the rebirth of a famous automotive name: the GT40, a short-lived but legendary sports car that dominated Le Mans in the 1960s.
And suddenly last week the new model, which will arrive in limited numbers in 2004, was simply the GT.
Thirty years ago, nobody at Ford bothered to register the GT40 trademark. And the trademark owner's initial demand, in the $40 million range, led the cost-conscious automaker to drop the "40" moniker and hang onto its money.
"We wanted the (new) car to be called the Ford GT40," says Bob Wood, part-owner of Safir GT40 Spares Ltd. of Cincinnati, which bought the GT40 name in 1999. The company sells replacement parts for the 160 GT40s built from 1964 to 1969.
"Ford was unwilling to negotiate and wouldn't make an offer," Wood said.
Ford spokesman Dan Bedore declined to discuss specifics of the negotiations, saying only that the two parties "couldn't come to mutually agreeable terms."
The name change to GT was announced Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Ford said it would build three copies of the sports car in late 2003 to commemorate the automaker's 1-2-3 finish at the 1966 24 Hours of LeMans as part of Ford's 100th anniversary celebration.
The automaker said it would build about 1,000 GTs annually starting in 2004, at a price of "substantially less" than $150,000.