I can only imagine the excitement when Ford’s posse of GT40s rolled up to Le Mans in 1966. Could an American team finally win at Circuit de la Sarthe? Would Henry Ford II have his vengeance on the ever-dominant Ferraris after the deal between the two companies went south?
No one could have predicted the 1-2-3 photo finish for Ford, but before the team made it to Le Mans the GT40 was broken in around American tracks. Earlier in 1966 a GT40 X-1 roadster, which had been converted to MkII spec, was hammering around Sebring looking for an overall win. Victory was with the Shelby American team, with the Holman & Moody (more on these gents in a moment) GT40 coming in second, and another GT40 rounding off the podium. The car you see here is that first place finisher at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Or is it?
First running into the car at Sonoma Raceway for the SAAC43, I was told it was indeed an original GT40 and the overall winner of that race in question. Then, later, at the Rolex Monterey Motorsport Reunion I was told by the mechanics working on the car that the rear bulkhead is indeed that of the Sebring winner, with other parts of the car being replaced over time, as they often are.
But looking around online, multiple sources point to the entire chassis being destroyed, usually citing the duties associated with importing the overseas-built car over to the States as a permanent resident. Some versions of this say it was buried here in California, somewhere outside Shelby’s shop, while others say the car was chopped up right after the race and distributed.
Meeting Lee Holman (yes, of the Holman & Moody team) at McCall’s during Monterey Car Week, he insisted that the GT40 was destroyed after winning the race. It seems odd that the car would be completely scrapped rather than preserved just for the sake of not paying the taxes on it, but his source seemed reliable – it was himself and he was indeed at Sebring in 1966. Also, it’s worth mentioning the car wears a Holman-Moody tag underneath the Ford Advanced Vehicles Ltd ID plate which reads ‘GT40P X-1.’
Further backing up his story, Lee was sitting on a copy of the car in question, recently built by Holman & Moody. Again, he says it’s impossible for the original to exist. I’ll let you decide because I’ve spent enough time going back and forth now.
Perhaps all that really matters is the car is fitted with the proper 427ci (7.0L) power plant which makes an incredible sound. It’s as raw as it was in the 1960s, but it’s an exhaust note we can still get a taste of today on our own cars. From the 289ci (4.7L) and 302ci (4.9L but referred to as the 5.0) up to the 427ci V8s that these cars raced with, versions of each can be easily sourced today.
As far as the design of the rest of the car, it’s safe to say the GT40 was far ahead of its time, likely why it continues to look so good today. You get the appeal of a classic with a more modern-feeling chassis, refined body, and straightforward aero setup, albeit a 50-plus-year-old design.
There’s something massively appealing about the low-slung bodywork and the rawness of the GT40; it’s incredibly simple and it’s not a car that’s hiding anything. Well, actually, it was hiding the bits I was most interested in, but lucky for me the bodywork came off later in the day.
It’s incredible to think that this design is what brought down the mighty Ferraris and Porsche prototypes of the ’60s. Like I said, it all screams simplicity, and I’d love to get a closer look under the bodywork of a Porsche 906 or the Ferrari 330 P4. Anyone have one sitting around for me to take apart?
Really, though, the best thing about this particular car is the fact that it’s not been locked away as a display piece in someone’s collection.
With a little help from a little pit crew, this car still sees the track. At the SAAC43 the GT40 got some hot laps in during the open track and competed in the vintage race at the end of the day. It was at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion last year and, as mentioned, again this year.
There were a number of kit cars at the event and, yes, I’m sure they’re loads of fun to drive and I’d gladly take one. But there’s nothing quite like the real thing, and this was the car I was most excited to see lined up in the pits, ready to head out on the course.
This is a car that has people still get pumped up to see at the track. Every time I see one, I think of the excitement these cars undoubtedly created when they started turning up at road courses around the US and, later, the globe. This is a car that can’t hide from its history, taking its impressive pedigree with it anywhere it goes.
That is, if the rear bulkhead really is from that original chassis…
Trevor Yale Ryan
they are fibreglass so no where near as bad as if it were a superlaggera
Ur golf club called. They want their testicles back. Who cares, it's a race car. The original people who raced them probably didn't give a damn if a socket fell on the quarter panels let alone someone sitting on body panels.
omg it's a car. Who dare use it like...a car. *gasp*
did you just assume my gender?
funny because it looks like he is using it like a chair not a car. plus this is not the age in when people raced those cars, now is the age when they are historical items where damage is kind of frowned upon. so chill out and relax as i was just sharing my reaction before i read that it was a copy.
I damn near fell out of my chair when I saw that, lol. Even if it's a replica why would you do something like that?
That would be a crime for someone UNDER 200 pounds, let alone that guy =(
It's not the real thing. It's a Ship of Theseus.
consider the current standing mile world record holder is a ford gt40 that the body hasn't even been modified on. I think they did floor aero and that was it (no wing OmGz h0Wis THaT PosSiBlE?). a lot of people say they are going to do 300 this year so. goat?
No, it's a Ford GT. They hit 293 mph last year I believe.
It's NOT a GT40.
Ford GT, GT40, it's all the same shit.
Except, it's really not.
Correction: 289 Vcid V8s are not 4.6L in displacement, they're 4.78L. 4.6L is @260 cid.
Those 427s have the NASTIEST bark to them.
Yes, yes they do. As a former Ford Big Block guy, I had a built 390 with a bunch of 427 goodies in a couple of Mustangs and my FAVORITE thing to do was launch that Big Block. The sound they make is unlike any other engine, especially when you hit that time when the engine has caught up and is straining...it creates a certain roar that others I drove with said was scary, and as it scavenged from the pool of fuel in the manifold the car would continue to surge even with your foot off the throttle which ALWAYS scared the crap out of my passengers, and even myself the first time I experienced it.
Too bad the damn FE series V8's are massive gas guzzlers and one of the most expensive engines to work on, they REALLY make great torque and power and have the best sound of them all IMO.
Oh, forgot to mention it had a Tri-Power carb setup, which contributed to things nicely including dumping that excess fuel it would scavenge as the engine came back down from revs...mostly from leaking early on before some repairs, but it would still do much the same later on just from the massive fuel flow three openings makes when the plates go vertical.
I miss that car...
Ahhhh, the GT-40...the car that for me was the beginning of my Carlife. Ford REALLY made their name IMO with the car, it put them among the automotive elite in a setting that cemented their legacy to this day.
A few years back at a local Cars and Coffee, a VERY loud and amazing engine could be heard for a few minutes, getting louder, until up drives pretty much the exact car seen here under Police escort. With the engine running it was impossible to talk, and really even concentrate! It was later said to be a replica, but if so it was a VERY realistic one down to minute details and DEFINITELY was raced. Needless to say it took awhile to be able to get close to the beast, and I spent a few hours poring over the car and taking a few hundred pics. SOOOO low and really mean looking in person, the cabin is amazingly small and the car looks VERY rough and ready, unlike so many of it's contemporaries.
Still perhaps my favorite Automotive Creation, the car still has SO much presence today and it's great to see such a quality post on this amazing car and it's history...thanks Speedhunters!
Fap fap fap splopopppooooooosh!
did anyone else freak out when they saw the picture of the man sitting on it before they read that it was a copy? because i sure did!