The Ford GT40 Mark II that won the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours endurance race has been sold to enthusiast Rob Kauffman of RK Motors Charlotte. Developed by Carroll Shelby and driven to victory at Le Mans by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, the #2 GT40, chassis P/1046, will be restored to its original configuration.
With an entry list that included no less than eight GT40 variants, Ford dominated the 1966 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the culmination of Henry Ford II’s goal of winning at the top rung of international sports car racing, and beating perennial champion, Ferrari. The first of Ford’s four consecutive overall wins at Le Mans wasn’t without controversy, however.
At the finish, Ford reportedly decided to stage a publicity 1-2-3 photo between the #2 McLaren/Amon, the #1 GT40 of Ken Miles and Denny Hulme and the #5 GT40 of Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson. While the leading GT40s of McLaren/Amon and Miles/Hulme crossed the finish line at basically the same time, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) determined that the #2 McLaren/Amon entry would take home the checkered flag. The ACO said chassis P/1046 covered more distance in 24 hours, as it had started the race some eight meters behind the Miles/Hulme car. The 1966 race continues to rank as one of the closest finishes in Le Mans history.
Following its historic victory, the Holman-Moody race team took ownership of the car, giving it a new interior and shorter tail section prior to the 1967 running of the 24 Hours of Daytona. It would prove to be the GT40’s final racing competition, as a gearbox failure led to a race-ending crash at the hands of Lloyd Ruby and Denny Hulme.
In subsequent years, chassis P/1046 exchanged hands through a series of private party owners and has made appearances at various vintage events, including a 40th anniversary celebration at the 2006 Le Mans Classic with the second and third finishers of the 1966 race.
The first American-built car to win endurance racing’s biggest prize is in the process of being restored by Rare Drive in New Hampshire, culminating with a formal reintroduction at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2016. That event will mark the 50th anniversary of the Le Mans victory.
“We’re thrilled to add this historic GT40 to the RK Motors stable of rare collector cars,” said RK Motors Marketing Director Jeff Spiegel. “Given the international notoriety of this race car, we feel it’s important to share online updates throughout the course of the 20-month restoration, allowing a worldwide audience access to this process.”
For periodic video and photo updates of the restoration, visit rkmotorscharlotte.com.
[Source: RK Motors; period race photos: Ford Motor Company]