The 1966 Ford GT40 Mk II #5 is a very special car; being a 1966 GT40 should be enough to make it so, however the #5 car was part of the trilogy that secured the Le Mans for Ford and became written into history to claim legendary status!
History records that from 1966, Ford won the famous 24-hour race of Le Mans for four years in a row.
It was a period of dominance by a single make and model that was unprecedented in international long-distance racing. Most historians would agree that the most important of these victories was the first, the 1966 contest in which the GT40 conquered all others with a clean 1-2-3 sweep at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans.
It wasn’t an easy feat however, as glories never are, and it took some effort over a few years to develop the GT40, a car which began as a Lola GT, into the race thoroughbred it was destined to be.
In their maiden 1964 run, three GT40 entries retired early at Le Mans and therefore didn’t finish the race.
The following year Carroll Shelby was made manager of the racing program, but Le Mans success nevertheless still remained elusive a little longer.
That year, GT40s generally bowed out of endurance races early with gearbox failures or related problems. At Le Mans, Ford was testing a 7-liter big-block GT and set some of the fastest lap times ever in course history, but early retirements again plagued the program and Henry Ford II’s frustrations mounted as a NART-run Ferrari 250 LM emerged victorious.
In 1966, Ford had decided to prioritise a company called Holman-Moody to run it’s Le Mans program, however maintained Shelby American as one of the factory approved teams. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based builder that had proved itself running Ford’s highly successful NASCAR program seemed to have the required credentials.
Holman-Moody was initially allocated three GT40s for the 1966 season: chassis nos. P/1016 (the car pictured here), P/1031, and P/1032.
The GT40 Mk II was the product of Kar Kraft, Ford’s stateside sports car facility, which took the initially British-built GT40 and problem-solved its weaker aspects. The chassis was made stiffer from thicker-gauge steel, it had stronger engine mountings and featured more advanced suspension with two-way adjustable Koni dampers. Durability was further improved with a heavier driveshaft, and ventilated Kelsey-Hayes disc brakes.
The Mk II featured the then new 427-cu. in. ‘big-block’ V-8 that Shelby driver Ken Miles first tested in a GT40 in April 1965, having concluded,
“That’s the car I want to drive at Le Mans this year.”
Holman-Moody had gained substantial experience with the engine from NASCAR and under their guidance the unit generally developed 450 bhp.
The set-up was complemented by dry-sump lubrication and weight-saving components such as aluminum heads and a magnesium oil pan. The bodywork was subtly modified from the original Mk I GT40s – it was both wider and taller to accommodate larger wheels – and the rear featured extra engine scoops and an adjustable spoiler.
The cars were delivered as bare chassis in 1965 for final assembly by Shelby-American, and only eight GT40 Mk IIs were completed and swapped between Ford’s three factory teams.
When the race began in 1966, the #5 – P/1016- car was in third place after only one lap.
However, due to braking problems over the next six hours, and a long pit stop for repairs, saw the GT40 fall to 10th place after seven hours, but from that point forward the car consistently charged hard, regaining 5th place after nine hours, and 4th two hours later.
During hour 17 the Mk II #5 pulled ahead to 3rd place, while almost at the same time the last remaining Ferrari P3 (Lorenzo Bandini’s, which had drifted down to 11th place) retired early.
With two of Shelby American’s GT40s in the lead, Ford was assured of a 1-2-3 finish and finally achieved the elusive goal of beating Ferrari at Le Mans.
That’s the history that was recorded for this amazing car, and set both Ford’s and Shelby American’s destiny in the world of racing for decades to come.
This very car, the 1966 GT40 #5, Chassis number P/1016, sold at Sotheby’s auction earlier this year 2018, at a price of $USD9,795,000 !
- 3rd overall at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours; driven by Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson
- Holman-Moody/FoMoCo team car for 1966 to 1967
- Also raced and tested by legendary drivers such as Ken Miles, Richie Ginther, A.J. Foyt, Mark Donohue, and Peter Revson
- The fourth of eight Mark II examples built
- Offered from 14 years of fastidious care
- People’s Choice Award winner at the 2003 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
- Eligible for numerous events, including the Le Mans Classic, Goodwood Revival, and Monterey Historics
- A genuine, authentically presented, and well-maintained Le Mans legend
See the full Sotheby’s listing HERE