The latest look back at old classified advertisements features a 1967 Ford GT40 Mk IV offered for sale in the November 1976 issue of Hemmings for $85,000.
The Ford GT40 was built to win long-distance sports car races, ultimately winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times in a row, from 1966 to 1969. The car was named the GT (for Grand Tourisme) with the 40 representing its overall height of 40 inches (measured at the windshield) as required by the rules.
While the GT40 Mk II was successful, Ford decided to develop a car with better aerodynamics and lighter weight, plus to bring car more “in-house” and lessen its reliance on outside firms. Therefore, Ford Advanced Vehicles was sold to John Wyer and a new car was designed by Ford’s studios and produced by Ford’s subsidiary Kar Kraft under Ed Hull. The car would make full use of the new and more liberal Appendix J regulations for race car construction, and was therefore known as the J-car.
The first J-car was completed in March 1966 and it set the fastest time at the Le Mans trials that year. The tub weighed only 86 lbs, and the entire car weighed only 2,660 lbs, 300 lbs less than the Mk II. However, due to its proven reliability, Ford (successfully) chose to run the Mk II at Le Mans in 1966.
Following Le Mans, the development program for the J-car resumed, and a second car was built. During a test session at Riverside International Raceway in August 1966, with Ken Miles driving, the car suddenly went out of control at the end of Riverside’s very long back straight. The honeycomb chassis did not live up to its design goal, shattering upon impact, bursting into flames and killing Miles. It was decided that the unique, flat-topped “bread van” aerodynamics of the car, lacking any sort of spoiler, were implicated in generating excess lift, and a more conventional but significantly more aerodynamic body was designed for the Mk IV.
Developed from the J-Car, the Ford GT40 Mk IV was build around a reinforced J chassis powered by the same 7.0 Litre engine as the Mk II. Excluding the engine, the Mk IV was totally different from other GT40s, using a specific chassis and specific bodywork. Although the Mk IV only raced twice, it won both races, the 1967 12 Hours of Sebring and the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This particular Ford GT40, reported to be chassis number J-3, was driven by Bruce McLaren at the 1967 Le Mans trials. While J-3 spent many hours on the test track, it never officially competed beyond the Le Mans practice. The seller reports that J-3 received a “ground-up restoration and subsequent maintenance exclusively by Holman & Moody” and that it’s “all totally original except for air conditioning.”
A GT40 Mk IV at the center of Ford’s fight against Ferrari would be well received in the marketplace. Although it does not have competition history, it oozes with history nonetheless and it is extremely rare. Given that a street version GT40 Mk I sold for $1,465,000 at RM Auctions’ Monterey event in August 2008, we would be surprised if J-3 is not valued in excess of $2,000,000 today.
If you bought the Ford GT40 Mk IV for $85,000 in 1976, then your investment would have returned at least 10% over 33 years.