RM Sotheby’s has announced that a 1966 Ford GT40, chassis number P/1016, one of three GT40s that propelled Ford to its first-ever 24 Hours of Le Mans victory, is the latest star entry for the company’s forthcoming flagship auction in Monterey, California (August 24-25, 2018).
As part of the trio of GT40s that completed the iconic clean sweep of 1st, 2nd and 3rd overall places at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, chassis number P/1016 wore #5 as it was driven by American pair Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson, completing 348 laps and finishing 3rd overall for the Holman & Moody racing team. Occupying first and second places were the two other Ford GT40s—the first driven by victors Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon and the other by runners-up Ken Miles and Denny Hulme (though not without its own controversy) —in what is considered to be the turning point in Ford’s motorsport fortunes as the American manufacturer so badly craved a major racing title.
The GT40 Mk II was a development of the original Ford GT program, evolving to include a race-tuned 7.0-liter V-8 engine, in line with Ford’s ambition to create a mid-engined racing car capable of reaching speeds up to 200 mph. The ‘40’ part of the GT40’s nomenclature gives thanks to the sleek racing car’s low 40-inch overall height. The advent of the GT40 represented a step-change in the dynamic of engine technology in the 1966 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Compared to rival manufacturers on the grid – including Porsche, with the 906 model powered by a 1.9-liter ‘flat six’ or Ferrari’s 275 GTB Competizione cars equipped with a 3.3-liter V-12 – the Ford powertrain was ahead of its time and played a huge part in the manufacturer’s motorsport success.
Ford Advanced Vehicles first dispatched P/1016 on September 11, 1965, finished ahead of time and in the company’s 1965 colors of white with a matte black bonnet. The car was sent to Sebring International Raceway before lining up at The Daytona 24 Hour Continental over February 5-6, 1966. There, the car was driven by Bucknum – this time paired with Grand Prix racer Richie Ginther – as the race length was increased to 24 hours – at Ford’s request – in anticipation of Le Mans later that year. Ford swept up as victors in that race, all with GT40s, yet chassis number P/1016 did not finish, its automatic gearbox failing at 4:20 am after 13 hours. In among the various GT40s that competed and won in races over the following months—making Ford favorites at Le Mans—this car remains the only example to have raced as an automatic model.
After the success at Le Mans, chassis number P/1016 went on to race three more times in 1967; again, at the Daytona 24 Hour Continental, in a Daytona test, and driven by Mark Donohue in the Le Mans trials. The car was later featured in notable automobile collections and at shows across North America throughout its life, winning ‘People’s Choice’ at Pebble Beach in 2003. Now restored to the same golden livery as it wore when it raced at Le Mans, the GT40 is estimated to achieve $9,000,000 to $12,000,000 in Monterey.
For further information on RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale, to view an updated list of entries, or to register to bid, please visit rmsothebys.com.
Before heading west, the car will be on view in the lobby of Sotheby’s Manhattan global headquarters (1334 York Ave, New York), from June 21, remaining there for approximately two weeks.