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A sea of glistening chrome and polished metal greeted visitors as the annual Cromwell Classic Car and Hot Rod Show returned to Alpha St Reserve in Cromwell at the weekend.

One of the more distinctive cars on display was a Ford GT40 built by Alan Dunn, of Timaru.

‘‘The 40 is because the top of the car is 40 inches off the ground.’’

The cars were made between 1963 and 1965 by Ford, with the specific aim of beating Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance sports car race, Mr Dunn said.

Ford chief executive Henry Ford II, grandson of Henry Ford, founder of the Ford Motor Company, had been in discussions to buy Ferrari but when negotiations stalled he instead launched the Ford GT40 project.

‘‘Ford said to his team, ‘Build me a car that will beat the Ferraris at Le Mans’,’’ Mr Dunn said.

The team did exactly that, winning Le Mans in 1966, as well as the following three years, ending Ferrari’s previous six-year winning streak between 1960 and 1965.

The car was developed by engineers from the United Kingdom and the United States, and New Zealand drivers Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren won the 1966 race for Ford.

The dramatic race to topple the Ferrari racing team from the top spot was the subject of the recent film Ford v Ferrari, starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale.

Mr Dunn began collecting parts for his Ford GT40 many years ago, and when he reached the milestone of 50 he began putting the car together over about three years, making some of the parts himself.

But it was not all smooth sailing, and at one point he had to sell the car when he ran out of money.

However the project had a happy conclusion about four years later, when he was able to buy it back.

‘‘We’ve purchased it back now and we are quite enjoying showing it off.’’

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