The Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum announced the acquisition of the 1968 Ford GT40 Chassis P/1074 that sold for a world-record $11,000,000 at the RM Auctions Monterey 2012 sale. The selling price on the famed Gulf GT40, which was campaigned in major international sports car races during 1968-69 by England’s J.W. Automotive, represented a new world record for an American automobile sold at auction.
The GT40 joins one of the world’s foremost collections of significant Fords as well as Ford-related vehicles and memorabilia associated with the late Carroll Shelby assembled by the late Larry H. Miller, a Salt Lake City-based businessman and philanthropist who owned the NBA’s Utah Jazz, the Salt Lake Bees Triple-A baseball team and more than 40 automobile dealerships throughout the western United States and other businesses in addition to Miller Motorsports Park.
“This is a car that Larry would have loved,” said Gail Miller, Owner and Chairman of the Board of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. “We’re pleased to be able to add this historically significant vehicle to the existing museum collection that he was so passionate about. This particular GT40 will fit right in with the other GT40s in the collection, and we are happy to be able to share this car with the public.”
Chassis P-1074 was one of three Mirage prototypes constructed out of existing Ford GT40 chassis by England’s J.W. Automotive (JWA), a partnership between legendary racers John Willment and John Wyer. The cars were built to contest major international sports car races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring, and other non-championship races. The cars were sponsored by Gulf Oil, and were the first racing cars to wear the iconic Gulf Blue-with-Marigold-stripe livery. This particular chassis, which was then known as Mirage M.10003, won at Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its debut outing on May 1, 1967, driven by Belgian Jacky Ickx and America’s Dr. Dick Thompson. It was the first victory for any car wearing the now-familiar Gulf colors.
Although M.10003 failed to finish at Le Mans in June and England’s Brands Hatch circuit in July, it competed in non-championship races at Swedish circuits Karlskoga (first place, Ickx, August 13) and Skarpnack (second place, Paul Hawkins, September 24) prior to winning the 1000km of Paris at France’s Montlhery circuit (Ickx/Hawkins, October 15).
In 1968, the rules governing international sports car racing changed, and two of the three Mirages were rebuilt as lightweight Ford GT40s, incorporating some of the very first use of carbon fiber in the bodywork to reduce weight. Chassis P-1074 started off the season at the 24 Hours of Daytona in February (Hawkins/David Hobbs), but failed to finish. At Sebring in March, the car finished 28th with the same drivers. Everything came good for P-1074 at Italy’s 1000km of Monza in April, where Hawkins and Hobbs drove to victory. In May, Hobbs and Brian Redman took sixth place in Germany’s Nurburgring 1000km, and then Hawkins and Hobbs finished second in the Watkins Glen six-hour race in July. Le Mans was unusually held in September in 1968, and P-1074 failed to finish that race (Hawkins/Hobbs).
For the 1968 Paris 1000km at Montlhery P-1074 was sold to Belgian Jean Blaton, who raced under the pseudonym “Jean Beurlys” and co-drove the car with countryman Hughes de Fierlant to finish eighth. The car was then sold back to JWA, who raced it only once more, in the 1969 BOAC 500 at England’s Brands Hatch (Hobbs/Mike Hailwood), where it finished fifth.
In 1970, the car was sold to Steve McQueen’s Solar Productions film company, who modified it extensively for use as a camera car in the filming of the epic movie “Le Mans.” The top was cut off and cameras were mounted in various places on the car in order to capture real-time on-track action for the movie. Following the completion of filming, P-1074 was owned by a variety of well-known collectors and restored back to its original condition prior to the recent acquisition by the Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum.
The Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum is the only collection in the world with one of each series, or “Mark,” of the Ford GT40. With the addition of P-1074, the museum now has a significant car from each of the GT40’s racing eras: the early Mk Is, the Mk IIs, the Mk IV and now one of the “Gulf Era” cars. Other GT40s in the collection include P-103, a GT40 Mk I that is the oldest existing GT40 and the first GT40 to finish and win a race, the 1965 Daytona Continental; P-1015, a GT40 Mk II that won the first-ever 24-hour race at Daytona and finished second in the controversial 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966; P-1102, one of six GT40 Mk III street cars; and J-4, a Ford GT Mk IV that won the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring.
The Larry H. Miller Total Performance Museum, located at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, is open the public at no charge, and is also available as a rental space for corporate and group events.
For additional information, call 435-277-RACE (7223) or visit www.millermotorsportspark.com.
[Source: Miller Motorsports Park; photo: courtesy Miller Motorsports Park/Jeremy Henrie]