The famous Ford GT40s that helped establish their Kiwi drivers as ‘the trio at the top’ are back in circulation.
THERE can, of course, be only one Chris Amon, Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme … but, thanks to an American effort the world can enjoy a small count of exact reproductions of the GT40s the Kiwis took to an especially famous Ford trouncing in France half a century ago.
Twenty replicas of the car that took a famous breakthrough, Ferrari-humbling victory at Le Mans in 1966 have been produced, the first batch – including the black with silver stripes car pictured today, which represents the race-winning Amon-McLaren machine - being unveiled in America tonight.
The rolling chassis are set to sell for $US169,995 and adding and installing the drivetrain, if undertaken in-house, is another $US50-$US60k, with orders now being taken.
That’s a fraction of the probable value of the actual race-winning car, which is in private ownership, incredibly because Ford didn’t bother keeping it (as they did the winning car from the following year, which now resides in the company’s museum, the Henry Ford, in Detroit).
American website Autoblog says that even though the reproductions feature modern conveniences of air conditioning and an adjustable pedal box, they are overall “about as close as you can get to the real thing” because 90 percent of the parts are interchangeable with the original racers, including the steel monocoque.
The replicas are a collaboration between Superformance, a leading manufacturer of 1960s era continuation sports cars and Shelby American – whose late founder, Carroll Shelby, orchestrated Ford’s singlemost important international motorsport win.
The one-two-three finish is also remembered for being controversial, because after Ford had all the cars finish side-by-side as a show of strength.
The Amon-McLaren car, P/1046, wasn’t supposed to win the race. When it was clear in the closing laps that Ford GT40s would occupy the first, second and third positions (delivering the ultimate insult to Ferrari, which saw just two privateer teams in the top 10), the race-leading car of Ken Miles and Hulme was asked to slow up and allow the GT 40s of McLaren / Amon and Ronnie Bucknum / Dick Hutcherson to form rank.
Ford’s intent was to have all three cars cross the line simultaneously, signifying that a car, not a particular driver, had won the race.
Le Mans sanctioning body Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) would have none of this, as in its eyes, every race needed to have a declared winner. Though Miles’s car had been ahead in the closing laps, McLaren’s car was ruled to have traveled eight metres farther in the equivalent time, so it was awarded the victory.
Even though the Shelby-American team specifically produced the cars that took the top two places, the reproduction team is also happy to present their car in the livery of the third-placed car.
That car was red, with white stripes, whereas the runner-
up was blue with white stripes.
Superformance is urging customers to fit these machines with a specially prepared Shelby aluminum-block 427 FE V8 engine, which comes with its own Anniversary badging. The mill also earns the vehicles a place on the Shelby registry.
Superformance has no doubt the cars will increase in value. “We have earned our reputa
tion with our attention to detail, quality craftsmanship, fit and finish and customer service. Our products are endorsed by our licensees from trade mark holders which adds authenticity and increases the resale value.”
Superformance products are manufactured using all new parts which are factory assemble to ensure continuity and consistency in construction.
All GT40 sales are recorded in the Shelby World registry. Superformance has a dedicated independent dealer network which, it says, has distributed over 4000 units worldwide.
“We’re very excited to release this special edition GT40 celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Le Mans victory,” said Superformance’s boss, Lance Stander.
“Having known Carroll Shelby personally, we know how proud he was of this victory and can’t think of a better way to commemorate it.”