The failed merger in 1963 between Ford and Ferrari and the subsequent return to competition motorsport at the highest level by the American company is motoring lore. After their rejection by Ferrari, Lee Iacocca and Leo Bebee formed Ford Advanced Vehicles and went shopping for a Le Mans winner. Following their visit to Eric Broadley's business in England, they knew they had the basis for a winning car for international long-distance road racing. The resultant car was unveiled in April 1964 and the inaugural race for a GT40 was at the Nürburgring 1000 Km in May of that year.

Variants of the GT40 continued to race through the end of 1969 with wins at Le Mans, Sebring, Daytona, Monza and Spa, making the GT40 one of the most successful road/competition cars ever built. Homologation rules prompted a number of road-going GT40s to be built, and S/N 1065 is such a version. Built to near the specifications of a racing model but detuned, it is fitted with a fully trimmed interior and is completely street-legal.

This GT40 was dispatched in December 1966 to the Ford Merchandising Department in Dearborn, Michigan. Starting in 1967 it was used as part of a promotional program to sell new Mk Is. The first owner was Charles Hill from Dallas, who we believe acquired the car in late 1967. The next owner was Andy Harmon from Mississippi, who reputedly only kept the car for a few months in 1969, during which time he repainted the car dark blue with yellow markings. In 1970 the car was sold to Nick Shrigley-Feigl, an English collector who elected to paint the car purple with a white stripe.

In the early 1980s Shrigley-Feigl decided to have the car restored, and this time he painted the car red with black and red trim. At the completion of this work in 1982, the car still had covered only 2,035 miles. By 1984 the car passed to specialist car dealer, William Loughran. In the mid-1980s the car went to Richard Allen and in January 1989 the new owner was Alan Baker. In 2000 this GT40 was sold back to the US with 2,707 miles. Recent work in the past year included returning the car to its original color scheme of Azure Blue with black upholstery.

SCM Analysis


This car sold for $436,500, including buyer’s premium, at Christie’s Pebble Beach auction, August 18, 2002.

Hungry to defeat Ferrari on the track, Ford purchased Lola’s GT project from Eric Broadley in 1963, giving them a ready-made, mid-engine GT car that already had a Ford pushrod engine in the back. A win at Le Mans required both speed and reliability, and Ford knew horsepower wouldn’t be a problem. However, they were hamstrung by aerodynamic ideas that dated back to the days when 160 mph was an impressive speed.

A study of the various body shapes and the myriad flaps, ducts and spoilers that came and went on the Mk I and later the Mk II demonstrates how much the bodywork needed to change to make the cars remain earthbound at 200-mph on the Mulsanne straight.

Still, even in its earliest incarnation, never did a car with only one cam go so much faster than multi-cam cars. Later, in the hands of Shelby-American, the GT40 evolved into a very competitive package that was as reliable as a hammer. Shelby’s team, led by the pragmatic Phil Remington, was not afraid to take a hacksaw to anything that didn’t work. They switched the dry-sump alloy V8 to a wet-sump 289, the same unit they had developed for the Cobra. Wire wheels were replaced by lighter and stronger Halibrands.

Along with careful attention to airflow (and test driving by Ken Miles among others), this work turned the GT40 into a winner. The sight of the 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans in 1966 is burned into the brains of many enthusiasts. That memory and the idea of owning a road car capable of reaching 200 mph that is a close cousin to one of the era’s most successful endurance racers is an exciting combination.

Such an ultra-emotional response brings out the checkbooks, as does the GT40’s beauty. In addition, the Mk I is usually classed with the 1961-65 large-displacement cars in historic events; being the newest and best of that era, they are still winners, their most recent victory being first overall in the 2002 Tour de España.

The price made here, $436,500, is in line with other similar sales. If the car had terrific competition history, it might have brought nearly double that. Interestingly, this very same car, except in red rather than azure, was offered in 2001 by Christie’s at their Pebble Beach auction and failed to sell at a high bid of just $340,000.

After speaking with the vendors, long-time SCM subscribers from the Pacific Northwest, following the 2001 auction, they remarked that they thought returning the car to its original color would improve its value.

The result this year, nearly $100,000 more than 2001, was certainly more than enough to cover the respray and give the seller a few extra coins to take home as well. In my opinion, the return to originality was part of the value increase, but I also believe the buyers just weren’t in the audience in 2001. The Christie’s Pebble Beach auction is the perfect place to sell an authentic, low-mileage, important car like this, but even Christie’s can’t guarantee that the right motivated bidders will show up at every event.

In any event, the buyer now owns the premier Anglo-American sports racer of the ’60s, a model that will always have historical importance, and will always have a following among serious collectors.-Keith Martin

(Historical and descriptive data courtesy of Christie’s.)

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