Reunion with the Heron GT at Le Mans after Thirty Years.

On the 7 September 2018 Bev and I travelled to Le Mans to see the Heron Gt Mk 4 race and to meet Alex, the owner/driver of the car and Andris, Aigars and Normunds who restored the car. They gave us both a very warm welcome.

I then had a look over the GT and could not believe how beautifully Andris and his team had restored it. I was also amazed how original it was after it’s travels around the world - New Zealand, USA, France, Belgium, Germany and eventually Latvia. I must admit, I was very emotional after not seeing the car for 30 years.

The front suspension was original except for new adjustable coil over shocks and bigger disc brakes. While it had a full-roll bar fitted the monocoque steel chassis was virtually untouched. The Heron transaxle had been replaced with a larger transaxle to take the extra power the motor was now producing. The rear suspension had a new top wishbone as the driveshaft was no longer the top link. This surprised me as the acceleration/braking forces were now fed into the chassis at different points. The uprights, lower wishbones and radius arm were original and fed the acceleration/ braking loads in front of the motor and the top suspension feeding the loads in at the rear of the motor. I am not sure what effect this has on the balance of the car during braking and acceleration in a corner as it is an unusual setup.

This was very emotional for me after seeing the car again after building it 50 years ago and losing contact with it for 30 year believing it had long gone.

Practice at 5-00 pm. Still light and sunny.

The car looked magnificent amongst the other 40 or 50 cars in Alex’s group on the dummy grid and caused a lot of interest. It went very well in practice but as only allowed narrow tyres for its era was a great disadvantage in the corners over the slicks on cars built after 1971. While it was very quick down the straights the cars with slicks were much faster in the corners.

After half an hour of practice Alex returned to “our pit”. There was not the slightest sign of any fluid leak or need of repairs but still, Aigars and Normunds went over it with a fine comb ready for its race next day. Their dedication to the car was amazing.

After practice, one of the Le Mans officials ask if they could have the car under the “Dunlop Bridge” for photos for their archives and an interview with me. They could not believe one man in New Zealand had designed and with a friend, built a replica of the 1967 Le Mans winning Ford GT Mk4. He said, “These cars are only designed by engineers and built in factories by hundreds of skilled tradesmen at the cost of millions of dollars. This makes it such an interesting car to be at Le Mans 50 years later”.

When we got back to “our pit”, Andris opened a bottle of French champagne to toast me and the car. He then cooked a beautiful dinner of German sausages on a BBQ and salad etc. We then had a very interesting evening discussing the history of the car until Alex dropped us back to our hotel at 8-30 pm absolutely buggered, but also a very proud man! 

Saturday 8 September 2018 – Race day.

Alex picked me up at 9-30 am while Bev went shopping. Alex’s first race was at 11-50 am so I decided to go for a walk around the pits to check out the other cars. As Andris had given me a “Drivers Pass” I was able to go anywhere. There were some beautiful cars from a 2.4 million-dollar BMW to a 1960 Mini, all beautifully restored and prepared. About 400 cars in total plus one Heron GT MK 4. 

It was unbelievable for me to be at Le Mans to watch a car I had designed and built 50 years ago race. A dream had come true!

I then went back to “our pit” had a coffee and watched Aigars and Normunds checking over the car before the race. We then followed the car up to the dummy grid with the other 40 cars in his group. There were about 4 classes in his group. Alex’s class ranged from BMW’s, Porsche’s, Corvette’s, a 9.4 litre Dodge Charger and a McLaren.     

Alex had a very steady race, but the tyres were a definite disadvantage, but he did manage to finish 6th in his class. While it may not have been the quickest on the track it was the best looking and prepared car by far.


His next race was at 4-30pm and just before the start, a Le Mans official asked me if I would like to watch this race from the control room. This room consists of 54 TV screens showing every part of the track. These screens are monitored by a doctor, fire chief and track officials etc, about 30 people in total. If there is an incident on the track they can zoom in on it to check it out and from here, direct the right people to the scene. Very few people other than the officials are allowed in the control room. I was then invited to watch the finish on the flag platform above the track. Alex, Andris and I were asked if we would stand on the Le Mans winner’s podium for photos.

I was then asked if I would give an interview over the PA system on how the car was built in New Zealand. This was introduced with the following. “Cars like the Heron GT racing here today are designed and built by factories employing hundreds of designers, engineers and skilled people in large workshops, but this car was designed by one man, Ross Baker and then built with the help of a friend in the basement of his house in New Zealand. A beautifully designed and engineered car inspired by the Ford GT MK4 Le Mans wining car in 1967.This was an incredible achievement in 1970 from a young man in New Zealand. We would now like to welcome Ross and ask him some questions on how this was achieved without any input from Ford”.

He then interviewed me over the PA system by asking me questions in English, then translating my answers into French. He wanted to know how I had designed the car without plans or input from Ford. He was also amazed Ford had never contacted me.

I also thanked Andris and Alex and their team for saving the car and making such a beautiful job of the restoration.           

Alex also spoke on the PA system about the car and thanked me for building it. 

We then went back to “our pit” where another bottle of French champagne was opened. Alex drove me back to the Hotel at about 8-30 pm. Again, absolutely buggered, but again, the proudest man in the world!

Sunday 9 September 2018.

Alex picked us up at 9-00 am.  When we arrived, Aigars and Normunds were checking the car over ready for its race at 11-30 am. Bev and I went and had a look at some of the other races until about 10-30 am and then went back to “our pit” where Alex was getting ready. We again followed the car up to the dummy grid. During the race Alex was going very well but spun out which cost him a lot of time. Luckily there was no damage to the car, but Alex was very upset.



Prize Giving.

At the prize giving, Bev and I were called up first and were presented with a beautiful model of a Ford GT MK4. This was in appreciation of designing and building a replica of one of Le Mans most iconic sports cars, the only replica ever built and the only one still racing. We received a great round of applause from the crowd and I just wish Bob Gee and Chris Cooke could have been there, but I am sure they were looking down.

Alex received a trophy for sixth place and, also a model of the Ford GT MK4.

                                                                                                                                                                             This was a week end I will never forget thanks to Andris and Alex who made it all possible. A car I designed and built 50 years ago, lost for 30 years then united with it at Le Mans in 2018, how incredible is that!

I would like to thank Andris Stals and Alex Drogin who made this all possible. Alex brought the car in Germany 3 years ago in a very run-down condition and Andris Stals and his mechanics Aigars and Normunds restored it to its former glory.

Finally, I would like to thank the officials at Le Mans who added the finishing touches to an unbelievable weekend. This just shows there are some very good people in the world of all Nations who can and will make dreams come true.

Thank you to all those that made this possible.

Ross Baker,

Heron Developments Ltd,

Rotorua, New Zealand.

Ross and his wife Bev have now retired to Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast.

Owner Driver    – Alexandra Drogin – Moscow, Russia.

Team Manager – Andris Stals, Nordic Auto Classic, RS Motorsport, Latvia.

 Mechanics        -- Aigars and Normunds, RS Motorsport, Latvia. 


Valuing an Historic Car such as the Heron GT MK 4.

The asking price for the Heron GT MK 4 is 500,000 British pounds. While the actual car is not worth this amount of money, in Europe, historic cars are valued on their history.

The Heron GT MK4 was designed and build in New Zealand by Ross Baker in 1969. It was inspired by the success of Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt in the Ford GT MK 4 that won the 1967 Le mans 24-hour race.

The Heron GT MK4 was designed and built without any help from the Ford Motor Company in 1970. Plans were drawn from articles and photos that appeared in magazine etc. at the time. Some of these magazines gave measurements that could be used to work out the scale for the drawings. For example, one magazine said the sill was 15 inches wide. With the car having 2 sills and knowing the width of the car gave the chassis inside measurement. This was repeated over and over again, until I had drawings with all the critical dimensions. I could then draw the monocoque chassis panels and suspension etc to scale.

The car was then built with a friend, Bob Gee in the basement of my house in Rotorua New Zealand. This also included the 4-speed transaxle.

While I only raced the car twice in New Zealand as the engine capacity for sports cars had been reduced to 2 litres, I sold the car in 1990. The man I sold it to, David Manton sold it to America where it was on sold to France, Belgium and Germany. It was purchased by Mr Alexandra Drogin, Moscow, Russia in 2015 in a very run-down condition and fully restored by Andris Stals, Nordic Autos and RS Motorsport in Latvia.

While it has raced at many tracks around Europe, on the 8 and 9 September 2018 it raced at Le Mans where the initial inspiration came from to build it.

This car has a very interesting history over its 50 years that would be very hard to beat. It was designed and built in New Zealand inspired by the Ford GT win at Le mans in 1967, travelled and raced the world in many countries and has now race at Le Mans. It is also the only replica ever built of a Ford GT MK4 and the only one racing today.

Therefore, while its actual value may not be worth 500.000 pounds, its history is.

Ross Baker.

Heron Developments Ltd.

New Zealand. 21 September 2018.





Plate Attached to Front Door Pillar


This car has been built in 1967 by famous Heron car constructor, Ross Baker.

He was inspired by the fantastic win of Dan Gurney and A J Foyt in Le mans in 1967.

Due to changes in the technical regulations the car could not drive in New Zealand and was sold to the USA. The car changed owners several times and in 2015 came to Latvia.  

It was fully restored by Nordic Auto Classics and RM Motor Sport.

Since 2016 it has taken part in Historic racing in Europe.

Nordic Classic Autos, Latvia


False Identification Plates

The car was falsely registered in Germany as a Ford GT MK 4. See plates below.



This is being corrected by Andris Stals of Nordic Classic Autos, Latvia. 



Wording on model of Heron GT MK4 presented to Ross.




Presented to Ross Baker at Le Mans Racing Circuit on the 9 September 2018 in appreciation for his contribution to Motor Sport.