Across the pond, Ford is continuing to roll out a few tricks to keep the Focus RS tasty before its demise later this year. As such, it's unveiled five special edition models designed to commemorate its winning history at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Each of the hatches wears a unique paint scheme and wheel combo designed to invoke the liveries of storied Blue Oval racers of yore. It's easy to spot the blue and orange of the Gulf liveried GT 40 racers – those cars famously took the checkers in '68 and '69 – but more casual fans may not recognize some of the less imitated designs.
The black and silver of the '66 Mark II, red and white of the '67 Mark IV and the blue and white of the '72 RS 2600 are all replicated on one of the hottest hatches to roll out of Ford Europe in a long while. Each carries special interior treatments, including Recaro racing buckets that have been stitched to match the exterior paint. Ready for the real kicker? Ford is only selling the five you see above – no more, no less. Hit the jump for the press blast.
Saint-Germain-en-Laye, 21 June 2010 - Ecurie Ford France, one of the partners of the popular
Le Mans Classic event which takes place between July 9th and 11th, has prepared a collection of just five Focus RS cars in unique colour schemes, each paying tribute to the Ford cars which made
'blue oval' history at the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Each of the five Focus RS Le Mans Classic vehicles will be finished in the colours of one of the Ford cars which made 24 Hours history for Ford. During the event itself, they will even carry the race number of the cars to which they're paying tribute:
* Black with silver stripes: a reference to the Ford Mk II, which was victorious in 1966.
* Red with white stripes: recalling the Mk IV which won in 1967.
* White with a thin blue centre stripe surrounded by a red border: echoing the decoration of the beautiful Ford Mk IIB, entered by Ford France in the 1967 Le Mans 24-hours.
* Two-tone sky blue and orange: A modern take on the GT40s which dominated Le Mans in 1968 and 1969.
* Two-tone white and blue: representing the livery of the Capri RS 2600 which took the Touring category in 1972.
All five exclusive Focus RS vehicles also have customised interiors. The Recaro seats are upholstered in leather and diamond-quilted alcantara, front and back, with stitching that matches the bodywork. The gearshift gaiter, hand brake handle and central arm-rest are upholstered in real leather, and a leather safety belt guide has been added to the front seats.
Each of the five cars will carry a personalised numbered plaque on the dashboard confirming its exclusivity as part of the collection.
The five cars will be seen in action at the 2010 Le Mans Classic in July, and will be driven on a number of laps of the full track at the start of a number of the different 'grid' races reserved for cars of a particular era, with Ford-invited special guests and VIPs at the wheel.
The Focus RS Le Mans Classic units will be joined on the track by the limited edition Ford Focus RS500, whose futuristic matt black livery will be an equally eye-catching addition to the palette of colours which have fired the imaginations of countless fans of Ford and the greatest endurance race in the world.
Only Five For Sale
Once the fifth Le Mans Classic event is over, these five unique Focus RS Le Mans Classic vehicles will be put up for sale, and will be offered with exclusive accessories. Fitted with either RS(1) or RS Technology(2) packs, they will be supplied with a Le Mans Classic watch - a 3-dial automatic chronograph with large date display and sapphire background of which only 600 are to be produced.
The 5 cars to which the Ford Focus RS Le Mans Classic is paying tribute:
The Ford Mk II (victorious in 1966): on the 18th of June 1966, Henry Ford II himself gave the starting signal for the 24th Le Mans 24 Hours. He let loose a pack of fifty-five vehicles led out by two of the eight Mk IIs entered by the manufacturer plus six GT40s, including one belonging to Ford France which was driven by Guy Ligier and the American Bob Grossman. The duel with Ferrari was at its peak for this "race of the century". Unbeaten since 1960, the Italian marque was the queen of Le Mans. However, this time it was the Americans who dominated, pulling off a spectacular triple! For the first time ever, the 200km/h average speed barrier was broken at
The Ford Mk IV (winner in 1967): Wanting revenge, Ferrari sent its formidable 330 P4s to challenge the Mk IVs in a face-to-face battle without mercy. However, it was all in vain. The unstoppable red, white-trimmed Mk IV, piloted by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, wiped the floor with Lodovico Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes' P4. Unforgettable new pages in the history of motor sport were being written before everyone's eyes. The epic tale of the Mk IIs and Mk IVs concluded with the spectacular distance (5,232.9 km) and average speed (218 km/h!) records set by Ford that year.
The Ford GT40 (victorious in 1968 and 1969): Even though Ford as a manufacturer was not directly involved, John Wyer's JWA team benefitted from Gulf Oil sponsorship and the blessing of Ford Dearborn. For their first outing in 1968, the GT40s faced some keen and challenging competition from Porsche and Alfa Romeo. Driven by Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi, the GT40 clearly dominated the field ahead of a Porsche 907 and three Alfa Romeo 33/2s. This third consecutive Ford victory was the first for a genuine GT40.
In 1969, competition was as intense and varied as ever: Porsche was in attendance with its 908s and its new 917s, Matra introduced its 630/650s and Ferrari was back again with its 312 Ps. Nevertheless, once again the GT40 beat them all, sweeping the boards at the end of an epic duel. Jacky Ickx raced across the finish line leaving the German Hans Hermann 120 metres behind and red faced at the wheel of his Porsche. The GT40 drove away with Ford's fourth consecutive victory at Le Mans!
Capri RS 2600 (1st in the Special Touring category in 1972): Tenth overall, the Capri RS 2600, driven by Gerry Birrel and Claude Bourgoignie, dominated its category during the 1972 Le Mans 24 Hours. Manufactured between 1969 and 1986, the Ford Capri enjoyed a great sporting career and was one of the great leaders of the European Touring Car Championships and the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. It also shone in the Production Cars Championship of France and the famous British Touring Car Championship. Many Formula 1 drivers distinguished themselves at the wheel of a Capri, including Jochen Mass, Hans Stuck and the Tyrrell Racing duo of Jackie Stewart and François Cevert during the 6 Hours of Paul Ricard Circuit organised in 1972. The rally version of the Capri also appeared in the colours of Ecurie Ford France with internationally renowned drivers such as Jean-François Piot, Guy Chasseuil, Jean Vinatier and Jean-Claude Gamet at the wheel.
Ford Mk II Ecurie Ford France (1967): Jo Schlesser teamed up with his friend Guy Ligier on only one occasion at Le Mans. That was in 1967, in a magnificent white Ford Mk II powered by a seven litre V8 engine. An early track exit crushed their hopes in the 13th hour. However, driving the same car, they won the last ever 12 Hours of Reims, the other former great French endurance race. Jo Schlesser, a driver with an incredibly eclectic talent, was killed during the 1968 French Grand Prix. He was one of Ecurie Ford France's most emblematic drivers, racing on track circuits, in rallies and in a famous hill climbing race of the time, the Mont-Ventoux.