Been Reading Issue 19

Ah, those were the days. When Ford decided on their ‘Total Performance’ plan in the early Sixties, it seemed like they had an almost bottomless pit of money to shovel into their racing exploits. Sometimes, it was handy to have a third party handle the race car build and development, not only to keep things away from prying (or spying?) eyes, but also to keep them safely away from the corporate bean-counters – it was probably easier for the accounts department to rubber-stamp an order for “One gross of toilet rolls, $10,000” when the order came from a remote facility.

These off-site development skunk-works were often responsible for some of the best factory-sponsored racing machinery of their day. Ford’s pet place was Kar-Kraft, and look at what they were responsible for: The Ford GT40 MkII and MkIV programme, the Boss 302 Mustang, the Trans Am Boss Mustangs, the Boss 429, the Ford Torino Talladega and Mercury Cyclone Spoiler II and so many more builds and prototypes. Kar-Kraft would have made the King Cobra, too, if Ford hadn’t pulled the plug; in fact, there were plenty of amazing coulda-woulda-beens on the drawing board when Ford dropped the whole scheme in late 1970.

The author, Charlie Henry, was actually an employee of Kar-Kraft in their latter days. This not only gives him a rare insight into how the place operated, but also the contact details of some of his old colleagues and access to documents, photographs and such that few others might have been offered.

It’s not a new book, but then neither is the subject. It’s a fascinating read, packed with photos, details, insider info and nuggets that you’ll not find elsewhere. It’s also a long read – good value for money – and though it’s slow going in places, it’s never dull. Definitely one for the long, dark evenings from now until spring.

Kar-Kraft – Race Cars, Prototypes And Muscle Cars Of Ford’s Specialty Vehicle Activity Program is published in hardback by CarTech, with a RRP of £34.99.