1968 Ford GT40 from Le Mans film on sale by RM Auction

The Ford GT40 used as a camera car in the 1968 film Le Mans, starring Steve McQueen, goes up for auction. It will be sold in the RM Auction in Monterey, California, on August 17 to 18.

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PRESS RELEASE

BLENHEIM, Ontario ÔÇô A coveted pair of GT40s, including a remarkable 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racing Car, chassis P/1074, and a strikingly authentic, unrestored 1967 Ford GT40 MK I, chassis P/1059, are the latest star attractions confirmed for RM Auctions’ highly anticipated Monterey sale, August 17ÔÇô18, in California.

Widely considered one of the most heroic and legendary racing automobiles ever conceived, the GT40 succeeded the Shelby Daytona coupe as Ford’s standard-bearer during the infamous Ford-Ferrari wars of the 1960s. Among its many achievements, the utterly dominant GT40 stands proudly as the first American-built racing car to take victory at La Sarthe, and it scored consecutive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans from 1966 through 1969. Concurrent road cars featured similar mechanical specifications to its racing counterpart but with slightly less austere cockpits, which included fully upholstered interiors. In total, only 133 of all variations of the original factory GT40 were built before production ceased in 1969.

Continuing its strong track record for offering the world’s finest sports and racing cars in Monterey, RM is honored to present two examples of the highly revered GT40 at its upcoming August sale, representing both road and racing variations. Handpicked by RM’s expert specialists for the Monterey auction, they join a superlative list of early multimillion-dollar entries.

“”The legendary Ford GT40 is without doubt one of the most celebrated and sought after motor cars ever built. Both aesthetically and competitively, it remains a highpoint in the history of American racing and sports car design,” says Shelby Myers, Managing Director, RM California. “To have the honor of offering one GT40 is a great privilege, but to present two, spanning both sides of GT40 production, is extremely exciting. We are truly honored to have been entrusted by the respective owners of these two cars to present them at our Monterey sale. Previously displayed together at the GT40 30th Anniversary Reunion in Elkhart Lake in 1994, we are thrilled to be reuniting the cars on the Monterey Peninsula in August, where we anticipate strong interest in their sale.”

Anchoring the illustrious pair is the exceptional, competition-specification 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage Lightweight Racing Car, chassis P/1074. The first, by serial number, of several lightweight GT40s built for the J.W.A./Gulf team, this exceptional racing car was completed in 1968 and carries an incredible history from new. Finished in the Gulf team colors of Powder Blue with a Marigold stripe, it raced extensively throughout 1968 from Daytona to Le Mans, as well as the Le Mans trials at the hands of Jacky Ickx. P/1074 was then sold to Solar Productions in 1970 and used extensively as the camera car for Steve McQueen’s legendary film Le Mans. Over the following years, P/1074 passed through a well-documented chain of owners, participating in various vintage racing events as well as displays, including the GT40 25th Anniversary Reunion in Watkins Glen and the 30th Anniversary Reunion in Elkhart Lake. Purchased by its current gentleman owner in 2000, it underwent a meticulous restoration before being displayed at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in 2003, where it was driven by Jackie Oliver. P/1074 returned to Goodwood the following year and remains to this day a witness and participant of the racing achievements of its era. (Estimate available upon request.)

“Authentic racing GT40s like this example only come up for auction on the rarest of occasions. Well-known in the collector car world and resplendent in its period correct Gulf team colors, P/1074 boasts a fantastic pedigree having competed on some of the world’s most famous tracks. Its provenance is further elevated by its connection to the ‘King of Cool’ Steve McQueen and its role in his iconic film Le Mans. One cannot overstate the importance of the GT40 in automotive history and this rare opportunity for discerning collectors to become one of an elite few to be able to join the distinguished GT40 owner’s club,” adds Myers.

The 1967 Ford GT40 Mk I, chassis P/1059, represents a wonderfully authentic example of the first generation GT40 Mk I. One of just 31 production GT40 road cars, it was dispatched to the United States in December 1966 as one of 20 vehicles selected for the Mk I Promotion and Dispersal Program. Of this group, it was one of six vehicles consigned to Shelby American for promotional use by their field managers. In preparation for this purpose, P/1059 was re-sprayed in the striking colors of pearlescent white with blue stripes. As this paint scheme was authorized by Ford very early in the car’s life and implemented prior to private ownership, it can be essentially considered the car’s original finish. During the program, P/1059 was acquired by Stark Hickey Ford, a Detroit dealership, where it remained for several years before passing on to Herb Wetanson, of Long Island, New York, a dealer, restaurateur, and one-time owner of six GT40s. It was then eventually sold to its first private owner, Dr. Jack Frost, a noted collector of vintage sports cars, who retained possession of the car for more than 20 years, until it was purchased by its current owner in 2002. A recent inspection by noted GT40 authority Ronnie Spain in October 2011 reported P/1059 displayed only 4,749 miles from new, making it “without a doubt one of, if not the lowest mileage GT40s in the world today.” (Est. $2,300,000ÔÇô$2,700,000)

“A time-capsule example, P/1059 ticks all the boxes when it comes to collectability. Not only is it extraordinarily rare, it has desirable low mileage, exceptional documentation, and boasts just two private owners from new,” says Mike Fairbairn, Co-Founder, RM Auctions. “It will no doubt command the attention of the most passionate sports car collectors, promising its next owner a warm reception at the world’s top vintage touring and racing events and even concours d’elegance,” Fairbairn adds.

A tradition spanning over 25 years, RM’s highly anticipated Monterey, California sale, held during the same weekend as the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, returns to the Portola Hotel & Spa and Monterey Conference Center, August 17ÔÇô18. For further information or to view a frequently updated list of entries for the sale, visit rmauctions.com or call an RM specialist at +1 519 352 4575.
THE STORY OF THIS CAR

Chassis No. P/1074 (M.10003)
estimate:
Available Upon Request
AUCTION DATE:
To be auctioned on
Friday, August 17, 2012
440 bhp at 6,800 rpm, 289 cu in OHV V-8 engine, four 48 IDA Weber carburetors, ZF 5DS25/1 five-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with unequal-length A-arms and Koni adjustable shock absorbers, independent rear suspension with trailing arms, unequal-length A-arms, and Koni adjustable shock absorbers, and four-wheel stage II Girling ventilated disc brakes. Wheelbase: 95″ 

Please note that this vehicle will be sold on a Bill of Sale only.

ÔÇó Debut win at Spa 1967 with Jacky Ickx and Dr. Dick Thompson
ÔÇó Extraordinary racing history; ex-David Hobbs, Brian Redman, Mike Hailwood, and Paul Hawkins
ÔÇó The first win for the famed Gulf/Wyer Partnership
ÔÇó Only Gulf team car to win both as a Mirage (ÔÇÖ67 Spa) and a GT40 (ÔÇÖ68 Monza)
ÔÇó First of three lightweight production GT40s; one of two surviving
ÔÇó Early use of carbon fiber-reinforced bodywork
ÔÇó Famous Gulf camera car used in the epic Steve McQueen film, Le Mans
ÔÇó Distinguished provenance, including Sir Anthony Bamford, Harley Cluxton, and others
ÔÇó Complete with original 1967 Mirage bodywork
ÔÇó Countless books, models, awards, and event participations

In March 2013, it will be 50 years since Ford instituted the GT40 program. The purposeful mid-engine sports coupe is the finest Anglo-American supercar of the last century, with four straight victories at the Le Mans 24 Hour endurance race between 1966 and ÔÇÖ69. In 1966 alone, it finished 1-2-3 against Ferrari, in one of the most memorable photo finishes in the raceÔÇÖs distinguished history, cementing the carÔÇÖs place in motorsports history and on the postered walls of teenaged bedrooms the world over.

Its genesis alone is the stuff of legends and the subject of countless books, summarized most succinctly as a failed buy-out of Ferrari by Henry Ford II.

Blank checks were signed in Detroit, engineering and racing heavyweights were hired, and Lolas were modified and readied for testing. GT/101, the first prototype, was assembled in March 1964, in time for testing and the imminent Ford-Ferrari battle at Le Mans in the summer. Undaunted by a lack of wins, Ford regrouped for 1965 with Carroll ShelbyÔÇöalready a veteran with his CobrasÔÇötaking over the GT40 MK II program.

He delivered a win at Daytona with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby in GT/103 and a Second Place at Sebring with Ken Miles and Bruce McLaren in the same car. Shelby also ran the first MK II at Le Mans in June of ÔÇÖ65. Meanwhile, John Wyer continued development of the customer 289 GT40 racing cars.

The stunning GT40 offered here, chassis P/1074, is very well-documented in GT40 history. It began life as Mirage M.10003, and in its debut at Spa, in May 1967, the legendary endurance racer Jacky Ickx and the ÔÇ£Flying Dentist,ÔÇØ Dr. Dick Thompson, finished First Overall. This was also the first win for any car under the fabled powder blue (1125) and marigold (1456) Gulf livery. Such an accomplishment on its own would be sufficient to impress any enthusiast, but it marks only the beginning of P/1074ÔÇÖs storied history. It should be noted that Ickx was only in his early-twenties at the time, had just made his first Grand Prix start the same year, and was on the cusp of beginning one of the great careers in motorsports that, to date, includes an extraordinary six wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 25 podium finishes in Formula One, factory racing for Porsche, and everything in between, not to mention winning the Paris-Dakar Rally and even piloting the famous Ferrari 512S for the Steve McQueen film Le Mans.

Unfortunately, however, this particular car DNFÔÇÖd later that year at Le Mans and Brands Hatch, and then won at Karlskoga and finished Second at Skarpnack, before finished with a convincing win at Montlhery. Quite the stunning debut for this exceptional racing car!

Following the FIAÔÇÖs regulation change for the 1968 season, which reduced prototype engine size to three-liters and five-liters for production (Group 4) sports cars, with a limited build of 25 examples, Mirage M.10003 was taken back to J.W.A. in England for its conversion into a Group 4 GT40. The conversion was completed on February 23, 1968, whereupon it became GT40 P/1074, but has since remained complete with its original Mirage bodywork and could easily be returned to that configuration.

It was the first (by serial number) of three lightweight racing GT40ÔÇÖs built for the J.W.A./Gulf team. Its chassis retained the unique Mirage straight substructure forward of the windscreen. Specific to the car were Stage II ventilated disc brakes, a lightweight frame, and a lightened roof.

The body was described as ÔÇ£super lightweight with carbon filament aluminum, fully-vented spare wheel cover, extra wide rear wheel arches, double engine coolers, and rear panel vented (sic) for brake air exit.ÔÇØ The carbon fiber-reinforced bodywork used on the Mirage M1s, now P/1074, P/1075, and P/1076, are reputed to be among the first, if not the very first, uses of carbon fiber panels in race car fabrication.

Currently, P/1074 is fitted with an original, period correct GT40 Ford 289 cubic inch V-8 with Gurney-Weslake cylinder heads, four Weber twin-choke carburetors, and a 351 oil pump with an Aviaid oil pan. During its active career, P/1074 (M.10003) was powered by four other V-8 Ford push-rod engines, including a 289, a 302 (1074), a 305, and a 351 (M.10003). It was painted in powder blue Gulf livery, with a distinctive, constant-width, marigold (orange) center stripe, which instantly identified it as J.W.AÔÇÖs number two car. On several occasions, it was raced with triangular nose-mounted canard fins to improve downforce. From the outset, 8.5-inch front and 11.0-inch rear BRM Mirage wheels were fitted.

Soon after conversion to a GT40, driven by endurance racing greats David Hobbs and Paul Hawkins, P/1074 raced at Daytona (February 3, 1968), where it was a DNF. This record would soon improve. On March 3, 1968, with the same drivers, it finished 28th at Sebring, then ran at the Le Mans Trials with Jacky Ickx, where it set a 3 minute 35.4-second lap record. Driven again by Hawkins and Hobbs, P/1074 won at the Monza 1000 Kilometre on April 25, 1968. On May 19, 1968, competing at the N├╝rburgring, David Hobbs and Brian Redman finished in Sixth Place. Hawkins and Hobbs teamed up in P/1074 at Watkins Glen to finish Second. This was the first race that P/1074 was fitted with the larger 302 cubic inch V-8 engine. It DNFÔÇÖd at Le Mans (September 8, 1968), which was the last race of the season that year, again with Hawkins and Hobbs driving.

In October 1968, P/1074 was loaned to Ecurie Fracorchamps and to a Belgian racer, Jean (Beurlys) Blaton, as a replacement for his P/1079, which had been crashed at Le Mans earlier that year. Beurlys and DeFierlant ran the car at Montlhery on October 13th, achieving an Eighth Place finish. Early in 1969, J.W.A acquired P/1074 again, and in its only race that year, David Hobbs and Mike Hailwood finished Fifth at the BOAC 500 at Brands Hatch in April, still running the 302 V-8.

McQueen

This carÔÇÖs life was about to change dramatically. In 1970, David Brown, of Tampa, Florida, purchased P/1074 and P/1076 from J.W.A. He in turn leased P/1074 to Steve McQueenÔÇÖs Solar Productions, of North Hollywood, California, in May of that year. Under the care of J.W.A, it was to be used as a mobile camera car for McQueenÔÇÖs epic production of the movie Le Mans. Steve McQueen had insisted that the cars be filmed at speed. This necessitated that the camera car be capable of very high performance and keeping up with the ÔÇ£starÔÇØ cars.

For filming purposes, the entire roof section was removed, which left P/1074 with a windscreen that was just a few inches high. It is believed that this operation rendered the doors inoperable. Period photographs of the car show the doors securely taped shut. At the same time, the carÔÇÖs fully-vented spare tire cover was removed and replaced with the less aerodynamically-efficient ÔÇ£twin nostrilÔÇØ unit from a road-going Mk III GT40.

The modified GT40 was tested at the Fighting Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) in Surrey England. The radical changes to P/1074 resulted in a race car with adversely impacted aerodynamics and, in the words of Jonathan Williams, ÔÇ£diabolicalÔÇØ handling. During a test, P/1074 ran over a section of tank tread, which punctured one of its racing tires, precipitating an off-road excursion that dented the belly pan in a few places. Its driver, John Horsman, author of Racing in the Rain, and the filmÔÇÖs director, who was accompanying him as a passenger, were unharmed.

P/1074 was employed as a camera car at the start of the 1970 Le Mans 24-Hour race, where its former driver, Jacky Ickx, was coincidentally also in attendance, racing a Ferrari 512S, no less! Its spare tire cover was removed, and a pair of movie cameras were mounted securely in the spare tire well. Several runs were made up and down the pit lanes prior to the race. ItÔÇÖs uncertain as to whether the car actually ran during the race. A gyroscopically-stabilized, compressed air-powered, 180 degree rotating Arriflex camera was mounted on the rear deck, where it could be remotely-controlled by a dashboard-mounted TV screen. A 35 mm manually-rotated camera was securely mounted above the passenger side door. Its operation required intrepid cameraman Alex Barbey to crouch alongside it in a small rotating seat.

But the combination of these heavy cameras, along with the carÔÇÖs substantially reduced aerodynamics and now less rigid chassis, meant the car was very hard to control at the 150 mph speeds the filming required. At this time, Dutch skid-pad expert Rob Slotemaker replaced a probably very relieved Jonathan Williams as P/1074ÔÇÖs driver. The much-modified GT40 ÔÇ£roadsterÔÇØ was used in its altered configuration for some five months, until the filming of Le Mans was completed. It was still finished in powder blue and marigold.

After the film wrapped production, Harley E. Cluxton III (then of Glenview, Illinois) bought P/1074 from Mr. Brown. He tested the car at the Glenview Naval Air Station and said that crossing the runway arresting cables at speed was what he could only describe as ÔÇ£interesting.ÔÇØ P/1074 was sold to noted collector Sir Anthony Bamford (Staffordshire, England) in 1972. It was subsequently reconstructed by Willie Green, of Derby, England, who did the rework using a new roof structure obtained from Abbey Panels Ltd. The cut-down doors were replaced with early GT40 units, which meant the car was now equipped with early type ÔÇ£rockerÔÇØ door handles instead of the sliding levers that are found on later J.W.A. racers.

Other body modifications performed at this time included new rear bodywork, fabricated from a ÔÇ£standardÔÇØ GT40 production unit with widened wheel flares, so the transom lacked the additional outlet vents found on Gulf GT40s, and the rear wheel arches did not have carbon fiber reinforcement. Finally, the number plate location had to be modified to clear the exhaust pipes when the rear section was opened. Willie Green raced the reconstituted P/1074 at several UK racing events. Subsequent ownership history is well-documented and includes Mr. CluxtonÔÇÖs re-acquisition of the car in 1983, prior to another restoration.

The peripatetic P/1074 was present at the GT40 25th Anniversary Reunion at Watkins Glen in September 1989 and at the 30th Anniversary Reunion in July, 1994. It has appeared in numerous books, on the ÔÇ£Competition Ford GT40ÔÇØ poster, and itÔÇÖs been replicated in several models, both as the topless Le Mans camera car and in ÔÇ£conventionalÔÇØ Le Mans racing configuration. The current owner bought P/1074, and sent it to Harley Cluxton for a complete restoration in 2002, where it received a straight nose stripe and a fully vented nose cover. The doors were replaced with units featuring the later rocker style handles (as the carÔÇÖs original sliding lever handles). The infamous cut-down tail section, which was removed when the car was reconstructed, reportedly survives in France. P/1074 has since been fastidiously maintained by its current owner.

In 2003, Jackie Oliver drove P/1074 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Again in 2004, this well-known and highly-respected GT40 reappeared at Goodwood fitted with nose canard fins and an adjustable height rear spoiler. In 2009, it was driven by its original driver, David Hobbs, at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance, where it was awarded Best in Class.

For a fortunate bidder, the acquisition of GT40 P/1074 represents a special opportunity. Aside from its current, stunning presentation, the fact that it is one of only two surviving Gulf Mirage M1s, in which form it accumulated much of its racing history, renders it particularly attractive to an enthusiast who now has the option of relatively easily returning the car to this configuration and actively campaigning the car with its remarkable Jacky Ickx provenance.

This carÔÇÖs impeccable credentials, both as a winning racer and as the camera car for the legendary Steve McQueen film Le Mans, as well as its long documented history of prominent owners and its meticulous restoration in J.W.A./Gulf livery, mark it as one of the most desirable GT40s, and indeed endurance racing cars, ever built.

Please note that a number of spare parts accompany the sale, including 1967 Mirage bodywork. Please consult an RM specialist for further details.

Special thanks to the GT40 Registry, Ronnie Spain, author of GT40: An Individual History and Race Record, and John S. Allen, author of The Ford GT40 and The Ford That Beat Ferrari, for their help and research on this car.