#2 Ford GT40, chassis P/1046, at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours
#2 Ford GT40, chassis P/1046, at the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours

1966 Le Mans-Winning Ford GT40 Sold

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.

Eight GT40s at the 1966 Le Mans

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.

The finish of the Le Mans Race

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. T

he 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.

Finish of the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours
Historic finish of the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours (photo: Ford Motor Company)

Life after the 1966 Le Mans

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]

Show Comments (9)

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  1. Actually this car was designed and built in England. The 1967 winner was designed and built in the USA and therefore the only American car to ever win overall in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

  2. Actually the Mk I was developed and built in the U.K. under John Wyer’s supervision, and titled under F.A.V. , but after a dismal year, Ford had them transfer what cars they had to Carroll Shelby. though they improved by winning the Daytona 24 in 65′, the Mark II was built by Carroll Shelby’s team. The importance of the Mk IV (J-Car) is that it was an all American win, meaning drivetrain, chassis, team, and drivers. (A.J. Foyt and Dan Gurney) Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren are from New Zealand.

  3. Interestingly it was an Austin Healey Sprite prototype built and entered by the Donal;d Healey Motor Company that was awarded the prize for the ‘Best Finishing British Car’ at the LeMans 24 Hour race in both 1967 and ’68.
    Chief Engineer with Healeys, Roger Menadue told me how he raised the question of a ‘British Car’ when I was standing beside the Sprite which for 1968 had a cross-flow head, Lucas fuel injection, a 5 speed gearbox, alloy caliper 4-wheel disc brakes with a windtunnel tested all alloy body that was timed at 154mph on the Mulsanne straight.. This car is in Australia and sits beside the Paul Hawkins driven 1965 A.H. 3000, under 3000 litre G.T. cllass winner.

  4. The MK11 was developed by Roy Lunn and Car Kraft in Michigan early in 1965, it took about a year of development by Ken Miles of Shelby American and FORD engineers to make the car a winner, but 1966 speaks for itself.

  5. R. Roy; The Miles/Hulme car #1 (lite blue/white stripes) was “one” whole lap ahead of the black #2 car. Miles knew this, as did the team in the pits, including $helby. Just when it was announced they were second place, $helby went to the scoring town and demanded the lap counting log/report from the officials but was denied due to the fact they stated that the results have been lost! (This was only minutes after crossing the finish line. Miles got screwed, and $helby admitted it in his last book before he died.

  6. Everyone talks about the beautiful MKII and it’s accomplishments, but too little has been paid to the dominant MKIV.

    That car won at Lemans with Foyt and Gurney virtually just cruising compared to the competition. They used a defined NASCAR engine and kept the revs below 6000. The cars aerodynamic properties were way ahead of its time along with the honeycomb chassis.

    Not surprisingly, led by the French (who couldn’t build soap box racer) the car was banned from racing due to rules changes aimed at it.

    It is rumored that manny years later Gurney was at Daytona and the car was there, ready for some driving. Gurney took the car for a spin and scared the real competition with his ability to blow off any of the competition.

    In my lifetime, I have witnessed 2 unbeatable cars. The Ford GT MKIV and the Porsche 917.