Ken Miles Mark II Driving Impressions


Stef

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Apr 5, 2009
744
Southern California
Came across this October 1966 Car and Driver article "Portrait of the Le Mans Winner" with an excerpt by Ken Miles.

"WHEN PROPERLY set up", Ken Miles says "this is the easiest car in the world to drive. If not, it's awful-but then, this is typical of any really modern racing car. Small changes in chassis tune produce large changes in handling. The suspension is designed for a particular ride attitude; as speed goes up this attitude changes. We spent two days getting the car to handle right at Le Mans, found that the spoiler setting needed to be 2in, not 1. most critical thing is precise control; of the rear suspension geometry with 4-link arrangement used today-tires are still an area of much ignorance-even arriving at basic suspension geometry with help of IBM, I have to get it adjusted on the track.

"It's a cooking engine. I can lug it down to 1000 rpm in 4th. When does it come 'on the cam' ?-oh, about 3000 rpm! We babied them. The thing's safe for 7400 rpm, but we never exceeded 6200 in the race.

"It's a bloody oven inside! It takes a fair amount of physical effort to drive-steering is heavy-you brace yourself in banked turns so you can hold onto the controls. This is due largely to the fact that the car has been developed so far past its original state. The steering feeds back quite a lot, and I get big blisters. . .

"Cornering is pretty neutral, takes severe provocation to hang the tail out, and then it's only briefly. She really wants to stay put. I say neutral, but thats my car. Ron Bucknum likes a little nose plow, Lloyd Ruby wants the tail hanging out-we get three different patterns of tire wear.

"The gearbox is easy to shift after broken in and has completely unbeatable synchro. It could be lighter it weren't built around Galaxie internals, has an extra shaft to bring drive back through.

"Brakes are high-effort. Can't possibly lock wheels. They are our Achilles heel; there's just not room for a brake big enough. Running 1650 degrees, there's to much variation in temperature -I planned my driving so only one disc change would be necessary. Unfortunately, one of the new discs was bad and I had to stop again. At the end of the race, this set was in good condition, ready for another go.

"The seating is very comfortable, yes, hard to get into, but no aches at all after the race. For rear vision, pick the mirror glass off the floor and hold it in your hand. The wipers work well at high speeds , but the washer hardly works at all.

"Throttle linkage is very important. It must achieve two things: it must be smooth, and progressive- slow at first opening, getting faster. I have these qualities, but I don't like the suspended pedal. Not natural.

Riding with Ken, I found that indeed the Mk II is a flexible car. It isn't quiet, of coarse, but with the big noise going out back it's not horrendous; the ride is about that of a street Cobra. There's a realization of great structural strength, but there are rattles all over. And it IS possible to lug from 1000 in 4th.
Acceleration in the indirect gears, once past 3000 rpm, is simply indescribable.
 
Last edited:

FourFather

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
May 24, 2007
423
Wichita Falls, Texas 76306
Wow! Almost felt like driving the car myself. How articulate and descriptive.
Thanks for posting!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

steved57

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Mar 29, 2008
1,623
kilgore tx
Great find Stef - Thanks for posting it
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

Sinovac

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Jul 18, 2006
5,531
Largo, Florida
Yeah, fantastic read. Thanks for sharing.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

GTMD

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Jan 4, 2011
652
NorCal
Great read!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

Ed Sims

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Apr 7, 2006
7,141
NorCal
That is so cool.

Ed
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

Vince H

GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Jul 23, 2012
2,307
Southern California
Winner, winner Stef. Nice find man!

Vince H
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

TO AWSUM

Ford GT Owner
Mark II Lifetime
Jul 4, 2007
1,326
Niceville FL
Thanks Stef. Really enjoyed reading that. Made me feel like I was actually in the car.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stef

cobra498

GT Owner
Jul 14, 2010
305
Central Ca;ifornia
You can really see why he was so good. An excellent driver who also had a deep understanding of vehicle dynamics and engineering! Thank you for posting.
 

Stef

GT Owner
Mark IV Lifetime
Le Mans 2010 Supporter
Apr 5, 2009
744
Southern California
Glad to do it, my pleasure.

If I find anything further will be sure to post.