Ford GT40 That Brought Rampage to Ferrari at Le Mans Is Up for Auction

Ford GT40, one of the most iconic race cars in history, is probably best known for its 1966 model. The coveted model once reigned supreme, defeating Ferrari in Le Mans 24 Hours. How was this legendary race car born in the first place?

It all started with Ford’s strong desire to produce a car to win long-distance sports car races against Ferrari, who won at Le Mans six times in a row from 1960 to 1965. Why did Ford, a company that sells automobiles and commercial vehicles, want a compete with the Italian sports car manufacturer?

The story goes back in the 1960s. Ferrari had made its name in the world of race cars after its victories at Le Mans. However, due to the increasing financial difficulties, as well as the problem of meeting new requirement set for race cars, Ferrari had to start looking for a business partner.

Henry Ford II (left) and Enzo Ferrari (right)

In 1963, Ferrari made an offer to Henry Ford II, the eldest grandson of Henry Ford, who had wanted a Ford at Le Mans since the early 1960s. Ford reportedly spent several million dollars in an audit of Ferrari factory assets and in legal negotiations.

However, Ferrari unilaterally withdrew as he realized that Ford would not agree to grant him independent control of the company racing department. Henry Ford II was infuriated and directed his racing division to find a company that could build a Ferrari-beater on the world endurance-racing circuit.

Ford GT40 took the idea from its predecessor Lola Mk6 GT

Ford chose the proposal from Lola, a racing car engineering company from England. The GT40 model cars were based upon Lola Mk6 that designed and built in England.

GT40 Mk I model, first introduced in 1964, was the first GT40 built after prototype testing. In spite of Ford’s high hopes for the first race, the car was forced to retire due to a suspension problem. With the experience gained in 1964 and 1965, Ford came up with a modified model GT40 Mk II. The new model is considered the most notable and successful model of the GT40 series.

The top three GT40 at the 1966 Le Mans. The gold one is the one up for auction this time

The present GT40 at the 1966 Le Mans

The present GT40 at the 1966 Le Mans

In the weeks leading up to the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours, Henry Ford II handed top Ford Division executive Don Frey a blue card with a simple message: “You better win.”

In the mid-to-late 1960s, Ford made company history by winning the famous 24-hour race four years in a row. It was an almost unprecedented stretch of dominance in international long-distance racing by a single make and model. The most important one is definitely the first, the 1966 contest in which the GT40 conquered all before it with a 1-2-3 sweep at La Sarthe.

The present GT40 offered at the auction is the one ranked third overall at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours. It is estimated at US$9m-12m. It will be up for auction at RM Sotheby’s in Monterey on 24 August 2018.


1966 Ford GT40 Mk II

Auction house: RM Sotheby's
Sale: Monterey 2018
Auction date: 2018/8/24
Lot no.: 124
Estimate: US$9,000,000 - 12,000,000