17 Vintage Ford GT40s Stampede into Pebble Beach, We Dive into Their Histories

A blank check signed by Henry Ford II and three years of effort paid off with an epic sweep of the top three finishing places at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of this achievement, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance hosted 17 vintage Ford GT40s and their close kin in a dedicated class. Expanding the field to include the four Ford GTs that dominated the LMGTE Pro class at this year’s Le Mans race would have been nice. Unfortunately, Ford’s current racers were busy preparing for their next run in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on the opposite side of the country, a logistics challenge that not even blank checks could resolve.-*indicates not eligible for judgingWhile the illustrious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance generally frowns on re-creations, exceptions can be made. This replica faithfully revives the look and feel of the first of Ford’s production run of GT endurance racers. Following hasty construction, an April Fool’s Day press launch, and 400 miles of track testing, Jo Schlesser lost control of the original Ford GT prototype in the Mulsanne straight’s kink on the eighth lap of the 1964 pre–Le Mans trials.The resulting damage was described as comprehensive, without involving the car’s steel monocoque structure. In those frantic times, it was deemed more fruitful to focus on the next car in the construction queue, so GT/101 was scrapped. This show car was constructed using period photos and the advice of surviving experts. It’s owned by Claude and Sylvie Nahum of Founex, Switzerland.1964 Ford GT/101 in a period press photoAfter the Ford GT’s first (1964) season bore no fruit—ten DNFs in five races—two cars were shipped to Carroll Shelby’s California shops for tuning and development. The payoff was the first ever finish and victory by GT/103, at the 1965 Daytona 2000-kilometer race in the hands of Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. This car also finished second at Sebring and third at Monza before dropping out of a race at the Nürburgring with a broken half-shaft.After its retirement from Ford’s program, GT/103 was campaigned by privateers, first in international and then in historic events. It’s now owned by business baron Greg Miller of Sandy, Utah.1964 Ford GT/103 at the 1964 24 Hours of Le MansEngland’s Abbey Panels constructed five Ford GTs in roadster form, two of which were delivered to Shelby American for completion and preparation for the 1965 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by Maurice Trintignant and Guy Ligier, it dropped out early in that race when its ZF five-speed transaxle failed.In 1968, Hollywood custom-car guru Dean Jeffries discovered this car collecting dust in Shelby’s shop. After 45 years of ownership, Jeffries passed 109 on to Dana and Patti Mecum of Geneva Lake, Wisconsin, and this year, it took second place honors in the class.1964 Ford GT/109 (car # 15, left) at the 1965 24 Hours of Le MansAfter constructing a dozen Ford GT prototypes, Ford Advanced Vehicles began a run of 87 GT40 production racers. In hopes of making life tougher for Ferrari, Ford moved from 4.7- and 4.9-liter small block V-8s used in Mk I models to honking 7.0-liter big-block V-8s, which were then thriving in NASCAR, for the Mk II GT40s. P/1015 had a fortuitous start in the hands of Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby, winning the Daytona 24 Hours race in 1966. Miles and Denis Hulme were robbed of their well-deserved victory at Le Mans in this car by Ford’s ill-advised attempt to stage a three-abreast photo finish. Since 1046 (featured later) started 63 feet farther back on the grid, it earned the official win.In 1967, 1015 dropped out at Daytona with transmission failure, and Jo Schlesser crashed it at Le Mans that same year. Long after its competitive career ended, Greg Miller of Sandy, Utah, took possession of this highly significant GT40.Shelby American constructed this car from a bare chassis to make its debut at the 1966 Daytona 24 Hours in the hands of Richie Ginther and Ronnie Bucknum. It DNF’d there but finished 12th at Sebring, driven by Bucknum and A. J. Foyt. Prepped by Holman & Moody for Le Mans, 1016 participated in the aforementioned photo finish, earning a third-place trophy. Driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson, it finished 12 laps behind its teammates but nine or more laps ahead of the Porsches and Ferraris in hot pursuit.Mark Donohue and Peter Revson raced this car one last time at Daytona in 1967, where it DNF’d due to transmission failure. After several years in the Harrah Museum in Reno, Nevada, Claude and Sylvie Nahum of Founex, Switzerland, added this GT40 to their collection.1965 GT40P/1016 Mk II (#5 car in gold) at the 1966 24 Hours of Le MansThis GT40’s exact lineage is less than crystal clear. In P/1031 form, it was prepped for the 1966 Daytona and Sebring races. Dan Gurney led most of the latter event before suffering engine failure in the last corner on the last lap. Because he resorted to pushing his dead car across the finish line, he was denied the victory. This star-crossed racer later suffered a DNF at Le Mans.Rebadged with 1047 identification, it DNF’d again at the 1967 Le Mans race before winning a 12-hour event at Reims with Guy Ligier and Jo Schlesser driving, the final victory for a GT40 Mk II. The Revs Institute for Automotive Research in Naples, Florida, now owns this car.1966 Ford GT40P/1031/ 1047 Mk IIB (car #6 in background) at the 1966 24 Hours of Le MansThis small-block GT40 finished third at Monza in 1966, driven by Willie Mairesse and Herbert Müller. Two months later, it was running fifth at Le Mans when it crashed in the 16th hour of racing. In 1967, following a crash at the Le Mans trials, this car burned to the ground at Monza when officials were slow to extinguish a carburetor fire.Following painstaking restoration to the original configuration by various private owners, this GT40 was purchased by Henry Davis of Omaha, Nebraska.This car was our nominee for top class honors at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, not only because this car won Le Mans in 1966, but also because of the ill treatment it subsequently endured. The judges saw it that way, too, and on Sunday they named 1046 First in Class. After Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon were the first to take the checkered flag at Le Mans, 1046 became Ford’s test mule before Lloyd Ruby suffered transaxle failure at the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours. After more durability testing, this car became a parts donor at Holman & Moody’s North Carolina shop.  It was subsequently sold as a stripped chassis and then passed to a second private owner who had 1046 configured for road use with a metalflake-gold-and-black paint job.In 1983, Wisconsin car collector George Stauffer discovered 1046—minus its identification plate—stored with three other cars in Belgium. Stauffer restored his prize and vintage-raced it for 30 years before selling this GT40 for an estimated $10 million in 2014.  The following year, the current owner, Robert Kauffman of Charlotte, North Carolina, paid a reported $22 million for 1046 before handing it over to the prestigious Rare Drive restoration shop in East Kingston, New Hampshire, for one last refurbishing.1966 Ford GT40P/1046 Mk II at the 1966 24 Hours of Le MansAlan Mann of England constructed three XGT Mk IIs with lighter aluminum monocoque chassis. This is the third such car; it’s an icon of originality because XGT-3 served as a spare and a show car throughout its salad days. Later, it competed in a few historic events before being purchased by the Motor Classic & Competition Corporation in Bedford Hills, New York.1966 Ford GT40 XGT-3 MkII in a 1967 advertisement for Autolite spark plugsFollowing Ford’s second victory at Le Mans in 1967, the GT40 program would have ended were it not for the Gulf Oil Corporation stepping in to sponsor continuing development. Three lightweight cars dubbed Mirages were built wearing blue-and-orange livery.This car led the 1967 Spa 1000 Kilometers practically start to finish with Dick Thompson and Jacky Ickx driving. Three years later, Steve McQueen purchased 10003 to serve as a camera bearer for his Le Mans epic. It was one of four cars Stauffer rescued from storage in Belgium. Greg Miller of Sandy, Utah, is the current owner.1968 GT40P/1074 Mirage M.10003 (car #9 in foreground) at the 1968 24 Hours of DaytonaArguably the luckiest of the 100-plus cars in the family of the Ford GT and its successors, 1075 scored Le Mans victories in both 1968 and 1969. After new rules barred big-blocks, its keys to competitiveness were special lightweight bodywork, a 4.7-liter V-8, and a ZF five-speed transaxle. Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi drove in ’68, followed a year later by Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver. The Rocky Mountain Auto Collection in Decatur, Illinois, is this overachiever’s current owner.1968 Ford GT40P/1075 at the 1968 24 Hours of Le MansGT40 authority Ronnie Spain dubbed this racer “the most famous and instantly recognizable Mark I GT40 in the world.” Driven by Graham Hill and Jackie Stewart, this car earned its reputation with Australian Paul Hawkins, who was responsible for both driving and development.The current owner, German Christian Gläsel, still competes with this car in historic events.1966 Ford GT40 P/AM2 at the 1966 12 Hours of SebringDevelopment of the ultimate GT40 weapon, dubbed the J-car and constructed with an aluminum honeycomb monocoque, was suspended in August 1966 after ace Ken Miles was killed in a testing accident. Shortly thereafter, the effort was revived to compete against Ferrari’s 330 P4.The fourth of the dozen J-cars built made its debut at Sebring in 1967, leading from start to finish with Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren driving. That was J-4’s only race. After serving time in Belgian storage, this racer was rescued from oblivion in 1983 by the shrewd George Stauffer. It’s one of four GT40s shown this year at Pebble Beach by Greg Miller of Sandy, Utah.1967 Ford GT40 J-4 Mk IV at the 1967 12 Hours of SebringEquipped with a sturdy roll cage to protect the driver (following the Ken Miles tragedy), this big-block bruiser carried A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney to a three-lap victory over Ferrari in the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.A compound incident that eliminated a third of Ford’s dozen-car onslaught didn’t keep the race-wise Foyt and Gurney from beating Ferrari’s eight-car phalanx. The Henry Ford museum in Dearborn, Michigan, has owned this priceless heirloom since 1972 thanks to the Ford Motor Company’s benevolence.1967 Ford GT40 J-5 Mk IV at the 1967 24 Hours of Le MansAs is the case with other cars in this concours ring, a cloud of confusion hangs over J-5 and J-6. To celebrate its second Le Mans victory, Ford dispatched both onto the auto-show circuit as “the” winner. J-6 was given to Foyt, who later sold the car to its present owner, James Glickenhaus of Rye, New York (yes, that Jim Glickenhaus). Ford’s record keeping was spotty, but a subsequent inspection revealed that J-5 had a lowered floorpan (to accommodate the gangly Gurney), and J-6 had hints of yellow overspray suggesting it was the fourth-place-finishing GT40 driven by Mark Donohue and Bruce McLaren at Le Mans.Today, Glickenhaus owns a trove of Ford documents, photos, and spares from the 1960s, including what he believes to be J-5’s original engine. His J-6 wears the appropriate #2 yellow-and-black livery, plus the Gurney roof bump installed post-race by Ford and a dent in the aluminum doorsill. (The damage was inflicted by McLaren, who swung his helmet in anger in response to an unwelcome Ferrari protest.) This is the only running Mk IV with its original engine, chassis, gearbox, and bodywork. Glickenhaus told us: “I drive this car regularly on New York public roads. Once, heading back from Vermont, we were caught in a bit of snow. Both of us survived.”1967 Ford GT40 J-6 Mk IV at the 1967 24 Hours of Le MansFord built seven GT40 Mk IIIs for road use with wire wheels, door glass, lights, mirrors, a luggage compartment, and small bumpers. The first car in this series appeared in left-hand-drive form at the 1967 New York auto show and has been carefully restored to its original configuration. The current owner is Kurt Engelhorn of Saint Moritz, Switzerland. This car took third-place honors in the class.1967 Ford GT40 M3/1101 Mk III in a period press photoHarley Cluxton, who campaigned six race efforts at Le Mans, purchased rights to the Mirage trademark from Gulf Oil in 1975. To replace M.10003, converted by Steve McQueen as a camera car for his film Le Mans, Cluxton commissioned the faithful re-creation he identifies as Mirage M.10003B. Gelscoe Motorsport in England constructed the sheet-steel monocoque chassis and carbon-fiber bodywork, matching 1967 designs in every detail. A 351-cubic-inch Windsor V-8 and five-speed ZF transaxle are other period-correct details. Kluxton resides in Scottsdale, Arizona.1968 GT40 P/1074 Mirage M.10003, left, serving as a camera car during the filming of the 1971 film "Le Mans" starring Steve McQueen
from Car and Driver Blog http://www.caranddriver.com/flipbook/17-vintage-ford-gt40s-stampede-into-pebble-beach-we-dive-into-their-histories

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