Ford's domination of World Championship Sportscar racing was complete by 1967. For 1968, however, the FIA decided to attempt to reduce the increasing speeds by limiting engine displacement to 5-liters. The changes to the rules caused Ford's factory team 7-liter racers to become obsolete. Having nothing left to prove, Ford decided to withdraw from direct sports car racing participation.
With no direct factory entries for 1968, John Wyer's J.W. Automotive, sponsored by Gulf Oil Company, became the Ford representative in World Championship Sportscar Racing.
This example, chassis number 1075, was a newly constructed Mirage style lightweight that won at LeMans two years in a row in 1968 and 1969. Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi drove it to victory at LeMans in 1968. It repeated its victory at LeMans in 1969 where it was piloted by Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver.
Chassis 1075 racing record included 6 wins in its 11 races. After its racing career was finished, the GT40 was on display at the Indianapolis Speedway Museum for many years, before returning to private ownership in 1984.
This is one of only two race cars in history to record consecutive wins at LeMans.
Sold for $11,000,000 at 2012 RM Sothebys. One of the most iconic photographs of a race finish at Le Mans would have to be the famed 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. With headlights blazing a path forward, spray kicking up on the rain-soaked front stretch and the three Ford GT40s crossing the line near in formation, no image would more emphatically declare Henry Ford II's desire to take victory and beat Ferrari.
The Ford GT40 would be special in a number of ways. Not only would it be fashioned as a result of an intense manufacturer battle, but it would also be the first to use extensive computer technology. Unfortunately, this also means the GT40 would introduce an era in motor racing in which only those with great amounts of capital could expect to achieve success. Still, the GT40 would become a truly iconic GT car.
But if the GT40 is a truly iconic endurance sportscar, then the Ford GT40 that would be made available for purchase in the 2012 RM Auctions' event at Monterey would be noted for its exceptional exploits.
Soon after Ford had come to win Le Mans with its demonstrative one-two-three victory in 1966, and then again in 1967, the Ford factory would pull its backing from the GT40 program, but development would continue. The GT40 had already introduced a number of new technologies and techniques that were befitting of Ford's desire to remake Ford's image into a more youthful one, but the innovations and technologies that would continue to be introduced on the car after the pull out of Ford would help give birth to a whole new generation in motor racing.
The chassis offered through RM at the 2012 Monterey auction would actually begin life as a Mirage and would make its debut at Spa in May of 1967. In its first race, it would be driven by a couple of legends in endurance racing. Jacky Ickx would be joined by the 'Flying Dentist' Dr. Dick Thompson and the two would pair together beautifully. In its debut, chassis M.10003 would come through to score victory. And while, at the time, the victory would not be necessarily special, it would later be remembered as the first win for a car bearing the powder blue and marigold Gulf livery. But the highlights for this car were just beginning.
Though the car would suffer an early retirement at Le Mans in 1967, it would go on to score victory at Karlskoga and Montlhery, as well as, a 2nd place result at Skarpnack. It was clear: M.10003 certainly fit the lineage.
The following year would see some challenges for the J.W.A./Gulf Team. FIA regulations would reduce prototype engine size to five-liters in Group 4. This would require the team to ship the car back to England for conversion. The engine size needed to be reduced, but the car also needed to lose a little weight in order to remain competitive. Therefore, Mirage, chassis number M.10003 would change and would become GT40, chassis number P/1074.
As a result of the new regulations, the chassis would be the first to undergo the necessary updates. It would also be the first of three GT40s to be constructed using a new construction material.
A rather brand new material known as carbon-fiber would be developed and made for use in motor racing manufacturing. Reportedly one of the first, if not the first, to make use of carbon-fiber panel fabrication, chassis P/1074 would undergo a great deal of work to help lighten the chassis to overcome the performance lost from the reduction in engine size.
The new car would retain its Mirage substructure forward of the windscreen, but it would make use of Stage II ventilated disc brakes, a lighter-weight frame and a lightened roof. Carbon-fiber would be used in the panels for the fully-vented spare wheel cover, wide rear arches, engine coolers and the vented rear panel.
Upon conversion, the GT40 would make its way to Daytona where it would be raced by David Hobbs and Paul Hawkins. Unfortunately, the car would not achieve the same result as with its debut as a Mirage. At Daytona, the car would suffer a DNF, but that would not last all that long.
After finishing 28th at Sebring, Jacky Ickx would be back behind the wheel of the car during the Le Mans Trials where it would break the track record. Then, toward the end of April of '68, Hobbs and Hawkins would again be back driving the car and would go on to score victory in the Monza 1000km. The car would then go on to score a 6th a the Nurburgring and a 2nd at Watkins Glen. Unfortunately, the car would suffer yet another DNF at Le Mans. Then, in early 1969, David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood would take the car and would finish 5th at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch.
But just when it seemed P/1074's racing career had come to an end, it would be leased to take part in a very special race playing a very special role. The actor Steve McQueen had long been an avid racer and racing fan and he wanted to make a movie surrounding the epic French classic. However, he insisted on a couple of details before he would move forward with production. One of those most important particulars would be that he wanted to be able to film the race and to do so at speeds. This meant he needed a car capable of keeping up with the cars the film would be based around. This would be a tall order, but it would be determined P/1074 had what it took to fill the role.
So if the career of P/1074 wasn't worthy of making this GT40 of notable worth, then the fact it would take on the most important role in the most beloved movie surrounding Le Mans would cause this particular GT40 to rise above all others and join even those three captured in that iconic photograph taken at the end of the 1966 Le Mans.
In order to be used in the filming of the film, P/1074 would undergo heavily alterations. The roof would be entirely removed and a small windscreen of just a few inches would be added. Other aspects of the car's bodywork would undergo changes and alteration in order to be of use during the five months of filming.
It would be a very interesting sight seeing the greatly altered GT40 with a gigantic camera sticking out the top of the car beside the driver. Ironically, one of the car's former drivers, Jacky Ickx would be busy preparing for the race itself as he would be at the wheel of one of the Ferrari 512Ss.
Sitting in a small seat beside the driver, camerman Alex Barbey had to have nerves of steel as he would clearly protrude up into the airflow powering down the Mulsanne at speeds of 150mph.
Once filming wrapped the now GT40 roadster would make its way to the United States via Harley Cluxton of Illinois. However, no sooner would the car arrive in the United States that it would be shipped off to Staffordshire, England as noted collector Sir Anthony Bamford would become the car's next owner.
When the car arrived in England, it would be shipped to Willie Green in Derby who would begin the process of returning the car to its more familiar GT40 look. The roof would be rebuilt from a new roof structure and the doors, which had been cut down and taped shut during filming, would be replaced, but with older GT40 model doors. This would cause a departure from the doors that had been on the car originally. Later model doors on the GT40s featured sliding levers. P/1074, however, would be equipped with older doors that featured 'rocker' style door handles.
There would be more restoration work that would need to be done to the car. As a result of the changes made for the filming, Green would have to replace the rear bodywork with a new panel that lack one of the outlet vents that was familiar to the Gulf GT40s. In addition, the new rear bodywork would not feature carbon-fiber reinforced rear wheel arches.
Though not original from nose to tail, the car would be restored to such a condition that Mr. Green would begin racing it at events all around the United Kingdom. Interestingly, Mr. Cluxton would come to reacquire the car in 1983 where he would have the car go through even more restoration work.
In September of 1989, at the 25th Anniversary Reunion for the GT40, chassis P/1074 would be there, as it would be in July of 1994 at the 30th anniversary. Throughout these years P/1074 would be featured in a number of magazines and other advertisements and publications. Interestingly, its look during filming of Le Mans would even inspire other cut-down GT40s.
Cluxton would sell the car in 2002 but would still be an active member in P/1074's life as he would be commissioned to complete the restoration of the car. This would include painting a straight nose stripe and even replacing the doors units. It is also reported the original cut-down tail section still survives somewhere in France.
With the restoration complete, the Mirage/GT40 would make an appearance at the 2003 Goodwood Festival of Speed with Jackie Oliver at the wheel. In 2004, it would again appear at Goodwood, but this time it would come with nose fins and an adjustable height rear spoiler. In 2009, the car would make yet another appearance. This time it would be the Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance where it would be awarded Best in Class and would even be driven by one of its former drivers, David Hobbs.
Any original GT40 for sale attracts a very special price, but the opportunity to own a race winning chassis, as well as, one of the specially-designed cars used to capture those famous scenes for Le Mans, causes this particular GT40 to become listed amongst the priceless of the GT40 family. The car is the very definition of 'iconic'. Between being a Ford GT40, boasting of the famed Gulf-livery and being used as a camera car in the acclaimed Le Mans, P/1074 certainly commands a handsome price and a place of honor in even the most spectacular of collections.
Due to its provenance and its remarkable career, full of accomplishment and legend, estimates for the car would only be available upon request. Therefore, when this car is scheduled to roll across the auction block on Friday, the 17th of August, it will certainly be a very special moment.
Sources: 'Lot No. 139: 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racing Car', (http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MO12&CarID=r176). RM Auctions. http://www.rmauctions.com/FeatureCars.cfm?SaleCode=MO12&CarID=r176. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
'1965 Ford GT40 News, Pictures and Information', (http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z1004/Ford-GT40.aspx). Conceptcarz.com: From Concept to Production. http://www.conceptcarz.com/vehicle/z1004/Ford-GT40.aspx. Retrieved 2 August 2012.
'Ford GT40 'AM Lightweight'', (http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/4671/Ford-GT40--AM-Lightweight-.html). Ultimatecarpage.com: Powered by Knowledge, Driven by Passion. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/car/4671/Ford-GT40--AM-Lightweight-.html. Retrieved 2 August 2012.By Jeremy McMullen
Sold for $11,000,000 at 2012 RM Sothebys. To construct the first race car to bear the name Mirage and sponsored by Gulf Oil, a standard GT40 chassis frame was drawn from stock. When they finished, only the sill panels remained unchanged from the original. Three such cars, fitted with the Ford 302 cubic-inch, 5-liter engines, were ready for the 1967 season. The third M1 Mirage was completed just in time for the car to be taken to the second race of the season where it won, being driven by Jacky Ickx and Dr. Dick Thompson. At Le Mans, the car retired early with the usual Ford engine problem of cylinder head gasket failure. At the next race at Brand hatch, the Mirage was crashed after about 70 laps. This was followed by two minor races in Sweden where it won the first race driven by Ickx and a second to its sister car. In October, it was taken to Monthlhery where Ickx and Aussie Paul Hawkins drove it to another win. This concluded its life as a Mirage since prototype race cars were limited to a 3-liter engine.
Over the winter of 1967-78, the roof was cut-off again and the car reconstructed back into a GT40. As a GT40 in the World Championship series, it was less successful. David Hobbs and Paul Hawkins did win the race at Monza and came in second at Watkins Glen.
The car eventually had the top removed and it was used as a film car for the movie Le Mans starring Steve McQueen.
This Gulf Oil Company car, chassis number 1076, was entered in the 1969 24 Hours of LeMans driven by David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood. The car was on pace to win the race when mechanical problems arose and lost a considerable amount of time in and out of the pits before the problem was found. Meanwhile, sister car number 1075 took over the lead and eventually won the race, just a few yards ahead of 908 Porsche, with this car, #1076 closely behind and finishing 2nd in class and 3rd overall. This example is one of the first race cars to use carbon fiber bodyworks and an on-board fire extinguisher system. The rest of the story - at the end of the Le Mans race, owner John Wyer offered to sell this car to driver David Hobbs for $3,000. Hobbs replied, 'I just spent 12 hours in that car, why would I want to buy it?' The car also raced at Daytona and Sebring.
The 1969 Le Mans 24 Hours was the last hurrah for the GT40s, as their 4-year-long dominance was finally coming to an end. The factory team cars were eventually dispersed to museums or private ownership. GT40 #1076 was painted up to look like the famous 2-time Le Mans winner, sister car #1075 and was displayed in the Louvre in Paris after the race. IN the late 1990s, #1076 was purchased by a collector who decided it was time for the car to return to its racing heritage. After much discussion and study, a state-of-the-art restoration was commissioned to return #1076 back to its 'most significant point in time.'
This 1968 Ford GT40 Competition Coupe has chassis number GT40P/1073 and was first owned by racing privateer Terry Drury from Rainham, Essex. Drury had been racing chassis number 1005 and in the winter of 1967-1968, was able to purchase this example from JW Automotive Engineering Limited of Slough, Buckinghamshire. The vehicle was purchased as a bare GT40 monocoque chassis plus components. The car was assembled by Drury to his racing specifications. The car was given a tail body section with a design that was taken from a Paul Hawkins mould. Mounted mid-ship was a Ford 289 cubic-inch V8 engine with Weslake heads and Tecalemit-Jackson fuel injection. There engine was mated to a ZF gearbox. The exterior of the car was finished in an 'orangey-gold colour.'
The car made its racing debut on April 7th of 1968 at the British BOAC '500' World Championship. The car was driven by Keith Holland during the first part of the race, until he brought it into the pits due to a potential problem with the engine. Drury took over the reigns and determined the car required a plug change. The car was raced for 91 laps before it retired prematurely due to a loss of oil pressure in the engine.
The next race for 1073 was at Monza in the 1000 Kilometers race. For this race, the car had been fitted with 48IDA twin-choke downdraught Weber carburetors and the fuel-injection system was removed. This race was also short for the 1073, as it again experienced mechanical difficulties. The car as spun by Drury and it crashed into a barrier.
The car was rebuilt and repaired and brought to Sicily for the Targa Florio. This time, the newly fabricated body panels were painted in white. The car ran five of the ten laps.
At Nurburgring, driving duties were shared by Drury and Terry Sanger. The car made its first racing finish, and was able to secure a 34th position overall. A week later, the car was competing at Spa in torrential rain. The car performed magnificently for twelve laps before a clutch failure side-lined the car for the day. All of the twelve laps had been driven by Drury.
In June, the car was sold to Ron Fry who added the car to his magnificent collection of racing pedigree. The purchase was intended for club-racing, which would undoubtedly overwhelm the rest of the racing field. The car was repainted in red and brought to the Castle Combe aerodrome circuit on July 13th of 1968. It easily finished ahead of the competition. A month later, it was driven to a 2nd place finish at Thruxton. On August 31st, the car finished in 1st place at Silverstone. At Brands Hatch, the car was overturned and required a rebuild.
Fry purchased a new chassis JW Automotive and began the task of rebuilding the car. Before it could be completed, he had been persuaded by his family to retire from racing. The chassis was sold to Karl Davis of Bristol who kept the vehicle in unassembled form. The car components and two chassis changed hands a few times before coming into the possession of Bryan Prynn. Suspension components from chassis number 1006 were used. Once completed, the car was painted orange and black and fitted with wide alloy wheels. The tail section of the body had been widened to accommodate these larger wheels. The car was registered for road use and later sold to Glynis Childs in Much Wenlock, Shropshire. Childs used the car in 1970 and 1971 in sprint and hill climb competition. After 1971, it was stored until 1979 when it was sold to Martin Johnson in Newton-le-Willows. Under Johnson's care, the car was used sparingly. In 1982, it was sold to George Stauffer who commissioned a two-year restoration. During the restoration, the car was traded with Nick Soprano who took delivery after the restoration. Possession of the car was later passed to the Rosso Bianco Collection.
This car was offered for sale at the 2006 Bonhams & Butterfields auction held at the Quail Lodge in Carmel, California where it was estimated to sell between $700,000 - $900,000. Sadly, a buyer was not found and the car left unsold. By Daniel Vaughan | May 2007
A total of 84 production versions of the racing GT40 were completed at Ford's Advanced Vehicle facility in Slough, England. J.W. Automotive Engineering took over the Slough facility and started manufacturing strictly road-going version of the GT40 in 1966. The company was headed by John Weyer, the ex-GT40 team manager and Ford's GT40 distributor in England. His goal was to create a more roadworthy GT40 than Ford's racing versions. The MKIII was a GT40 for the street, just as the Jaguar XK-SS was a D-Type for the street. The MK III had a slightly detuned Cobra 289 or 302 V8, a more civilized interior, more ground clearance, a storage compartment for touring and 'bumperettes' among other detail changes. A total of seven were built with a price tag of $18,500, more than a Ferrari or Maserati.
This GT 40 MK III number 1103, was first owned by Sir Max Aitken of London, and in 1973 Brian Auger became the second owner. Auger had it painted from its original maroon to white with blue stripes and installed MKI wheels and tires. No other modifications were made. In 1981 it passed to a new owner and the car had covered only 6,000 documented miles. The new owner put the car in the National Motor Museum at Bealieu where it resided until the current owner purchased it in August 2011.
He had CKL Developments in Battle, East Sussex, England, begin a 'sympathetic' restoration, taking the car back to the original colors and original specifications including rebuilding the engine. Even the Borrani wire wheels along with the original Goodyear tires are with the car.
The car was dismantled to being the process of cleaning components and replacing 'consumables' like bearings, seals, hoses, brake hydraulics, valve springs, piston rings and valves. Even the original Borrani wire wheels along with the original Goodyear tires are with the car. The objective of this process was to return 1103 to its original specification.
Exceptional care has been taken to ensure it remains in such unmolested condition and not damage its originality.
The history of the Ford GT40 began as an attempt to beat a certain Italian Automobile Manufacturer at the grueling 24 Hours of LeMans race. Each June, some of the world's best in the automotive industry descend onto a town West of Paris called LeMans, France to compete in a 24-Hour endurance competition. This tradition began in 1923 and since has become the pinnacle of automotive racing that challenges speed, performance and durability. A select group of European marques had since dominated the race such as Porsche, Ferrari, Jaguar, Bentley, and Alfa Romeo. Ford wanted to join this elite group. During the early part of the 1960's, Ford attempted to buy Ferrari for $18 million to run its international racing program. The purpose was to use the Ferrari company and technology to help Ford achieve a LeMans victory. The negations unraveled and Ferrari walked away from bargaining table in May of 1963. Enzo Ferrari gave no indication as to why he had decided his company was no longer for sale. Ford decided to build their own super-car and beat Ferrari at International Racing.
Roy Lunn was an Englishman who had began his career at Ford of Britain and later came to the United States in 1958. He had played a role in helping to create the 1962 mid-engined Ford Mustang I Concept. The vehicle was an aluminum-bodied, two-seater that was powered by a 1.7-liter 4-cylinder engine.
After the Mustang I, Roy Lunn along with Ray Geddes and Donald Frey turned their attention to a racing program. The car that Ford had conceived was similar to a Lola GT, being low and mid-engined. The Lola was designed and built by Eric Broadley in Slough, England and first displayed in January of 1963 at the London Racing Car Show. Broadley was running low on funds and consequently more than eager to join with Ford.
Borrowed from the Lola GT was the monocoque center section and aerodynamic design. It was longer, wider, and stronger with a rigid steel section. In the mid-section lay an all-aluminum 4.2-liter V8 engine. The gearbox was a 4-speed Colotti unit; the suspension was double-wishbone. Excellent stopping power was provided by the 11.5 inch disc brakes on all four wheels. In April 1964 the GT40 was displayed to the public at the New York Auto Show. Two weeks later the car was at Le Mans being put through pre-race testing. The result of a very rushed program became evident. The car suffered from aerodynamic and stability issues and as a result ended in two crashes.
The GT represented 'Grand Turismo' while the designation 40 represented its height, only 40 inches. The number 40 was added to the designation when the Mark II was introduced.
The Mark II, still built in England, was put through extensive testing which solved many of the stability issues. Carroll Shelby was brought onboard to oversee the racing program. He began by installing a 7-liter NASCAR engine that was more powerful and more reliable. The result was a vehicle that was much more stable and quicker than the Mark I. For the 1965 LeMans, the Mark II proved to be a stronger contender but resulted in another unsuccessful campaign.
The third generation of the GT-40, the Mark III, was introduced in 1966 and only seven were produced. Ford continued to fine-tune and prepare the GT-40 for LeMans. The GT40 led the race from the beginning. This lead continued throughout the evening and into the morning hours. During the morning the GT40's were ordered to reduce their speed for purposes of reliability. By noon, ten out of the thirteen Fords entered had been eliminated. The remaining three Fords went on to capture first through third place. This victory marked the beginning of a four-year domination of the race.
In 1967 Ford introduced the Mark IV to LeMans. It was built all-American, where the previous versions had been criticized as being English-built and fueled by monetary resources from America. This had not been the first attempt for an all-American team using an American vehicle to attempt to capture victory at LeMans. Stutz had finished second in 1928. Chrysler had finished third and fourth during the same year, 1928. In 1950 the first major attempt to win at Lemans was undertaken by a wealthy American named Briggs Cunningham. Using modified Cadillac's he captured 10th and 11th. His following attempts to win at LeMans included vehicles that he had built where he managed a third place finish in 1953 and fifth place in 1954. This had been the American legacy at LeMans.
Of the seven vehicles Ford entered in 1967, three crashed during the night time hours. When the checkered flag dropped it was a GT40 driven by Gurney/Foyt to beat out the 2nd and 3rd place Ferrari by only four laps.
For 1968 the FIA put a ceiling on engine displacement at 5 liters. Ford had proven that Ferrari could be beaten and an American team and car could win at LeMans. Ford left international sports racing and sold the cars to John Wyer. Gulf Oil Co. provided sponsorship during the 1968 LeMans season. The Ford GT40 Mark I once again visited LeMans and again in 1969 where they emerged victorious both times. In 1969 the margin of victory for the GT40 was just two seconds after the 24 Hours of racing.
In 1969 new FIA rules and regulations ultimately retired the GT40's from racing and ended the winning streak.
Around 126 Ford GT-40's were producing during the production life span. During this time a wide variety of engines were used to power the vehicle. The MKI used a 255 cubic-inch Indy 4-cam, a 289 and 302 small block. The 289 was by far the most popular, producing between 380 and 400 horsepower. When the MKI returned during the 1968 and 1969 season it was outfitted with a 351 cubic-inch Windsor engine. The MKII came equipped with a 427 cubic-inch NASCAR engine. The third generation, the MK-III, had 289 cubic-inch engines. The final version, the MK-IV all were given 427 cubic-inch power-plants.
America, more specifically Ford, had proven that American automobiles and drivers were able to compete in all arenas.
After the production of the Ford GT40 ceased, there were several companies interested in creating replicas. One such company was Safir Engineering which purchased the rights to the name. In 1985 the Ford GT40 MKV was introduced and examples would continued to be produced until 1999. Chassis numbers continued in sequence where the original Ford cars stopped. The cars were powered by a Ford 289 cubic-inch OHV engine that produced just over 300 horsepower and was able to carry the car to a top speed of 164. Zero-to-sixty took just 5.3 seconds. Disc brakes could be found on all four corners. The cars were nearly identical to the original. By Daniel Vaughan | Jan 2007
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