1967 Ford GT40 Mark 1
Editor’s Note: Can you tell we like the mighty Ford GT40 world beaters from the mid-to-late 1960’s? Of course you can. Here’s a street GT40 with ultra low original miles that went across the block at the RM Auctions’ Monterey 2012 sale. Thanks to RM Auctions for letting us publish the story and the photos.
Photo Credit: Jamey Price ©2012 Courtesy of RM Auctions
1967 Ford GT40 Mark I
Sold for $2,860,000
Chassis no. P/1059
Engine no. SGT/20
380 hp, High Performance Ford 289 cu in V-8 engine with Weber carburetors, ZF five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 95″
• One of 133 GT40s originally produced
• Time capsule condition
• Desirable low mileage
• Extremely well-documented
• Recent inspection by GT40 authority Ronnie Spain
• Original, matching numbers drivetrain
• Two private owners from new
It is difficult to overstate the significance of Ford’s legendary GT40 to the history of American racing and sports car design. Initiated in the wake of Ford’s failed attempt to acquire Ferrari in 1963, the GT40 was devised with the intent of beating the Italian Scuderia at its own game. Built by Ford Advanced Vehicles’ (FAV) studio in Slough, England, the first-generation GT40 Mk I leapt out to a promising competition career. Not content with anything but dominance, Ford brought in Carroll Shelby to fine-tune the race program, and his input resulted in a one-two-three finish at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Concurrent road cars featured similar mechanical specifications but slightly less spartan cockpits, which included fully upholstered interiors. Concluding production in 1969, only approximately 133 examples of all variations of the original factory GT40 were built, and the revered model remains an aesthetic and competitive highpoint of American motorsports lore.
Just 31 of the 87 GT40 P production cars were equipped as road cars; as one of those examples, 1059 is an extremely authentic Mk I example that has seen such minimal use that renowned authority Ronnie Spain recently declared it to be “one of the most original GT40s I have ever seen.” According to its Production Car Record Sheet, P/1059 was originally equipped with a High Performance Ford 289-cubic inch engine with Weber carburetors and a ZF five-speed transmission, components that continue to grace the car to this day. Otherwise trimmed to road car specifications, this Mk I example was equipped with Borrani wire wheels mounted with Goodyear tires and finished in Opalescent Maroon paint by the Slough factory.
Dispatched to the United States on December 23, 1966, GT40 P/1059 was one of twenty such cars that were selected for an Mk I Promotion and Dispersal Program that was initiated on February 16, 1967. Under this program, 1059 became one of six GT40 examples that were consigned to Shelby American for promotional use by their field managers. In preparation for this purpose, GT40 P/1059 was delivered to Kar Kraft, in Brighton, Michigan, who famously partnered in the development of numerous race cars. Kar Kraft re-sprayed 1059 in Pearlescent White paint with blue stripes, typical American racing colors. As this paint scheme was authorized by Ford very early in the car’s life and implemented prior to private ownership, it can essentially be considered the car’s original color finish.
During the promotion program, GT40 P/1059 was acquired by Stark Hickey Ford, a dealership in Detroit, where it remained for several years under the watch of owner Edward Schoenherr. As described in Mr. Spain’s seminal volume on the model, GT40: An Individual History and Race Record, during Stark Hickey’s custody, the car was reportedly involved in an accident that required some repairs to the roof. However, with an opportunity to personally inspect the car last October, Mr. Spain noticed that occasional chips in the white paint on the roof revealed the original maroon finish remained underneath, confirming that the car actually only suffered minor damage to the driver’s side A-pillar. Thus, it is now fair to say that the only reported blemish on 1059’s recorded history has been invalidated, making the car among the most desirable GT40 examples to become available in many years.
In September 1973, GT40 P/1059 was purchased by Herb Wetanson, of Long Island, New York, a dealer and restaurateur who has campaigned in SCCA, Trans-AM, IMSA, and vintage racing for many decades. Mr. Wetanson is also well-known within GT40 circles for his prudent recognition of the investment potential of the model, having owned six different examples within the span of just a few years during the early-1970s. Roughly one year after his purchase, Mr. Wetanson sold P/1059, then displaying just 2,000 miles, to Dr. Jack Frost, of Dubuque, Iowa. Dr. Frost was a noted collector of vintage sports cars who retained possession of the GT40 for over twenty years while accruing a massive file of documentation of nearly unprecedented scope for a GT40. According to Mr. Spain, he has “only come across more complete files on a handful of occasions.” Furthermore, it should be noted that because Mr. Wetanson was a registered dealer and that Stark Hickey was technically the original selling dealer, Dr. Frost was P/1059’s first private owner of record.
During Dr. Frost’s care, he undertook a few safety measures, including the installation of a fire extinguisher and the replacement of the fuel bladders with aluminum tanks, which were fabricated in 1978 by renowned GT40 developer John Horsman, the former chief engineer at FAV and the John Wyer-managed Gulf racing team that campaigned the GT40. In 1985, Dr. Frost repainted P/1059 in its Kar Kraft livery of white with blue stripes, while continuing to use the car sparingly, including attendance at the 1994 Thirtieth Anniversary GT40 Reunion in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. GT40 P/1059 remained a centerpiece of Dr. Frost’s impressive collection until early-2002.
Then displaying only 4,500 original miles, this remarkable GT40 was purchased by its current owner, who has since taken some minor steps to ensure optimal mechanical condition and continued long-term preservation. This work included disassembling, cleaning, and adjusting the original Weber carburetors and installing a newer fuel pump with improved seals to avoid fuel leaks. This work was overseen by Rick Parent, a former employee of John Collins, who was also an original GT40 technician with FAV and a crew chief with the GT40 racing teams. According to Mr. Spain, as of last October, P/1059 displayed only 4,749 miles from new, making it “without doubt, one of the lowest mileage GT40s in the world today.”
During recent ownership, GT40 P/1059 has incurred only approximately 250 miles, which has essentially consisted of occasional exercise mileage intended to keep the car in fresh mechanical order. Garaged in a climate-controlled facility and regularly maintained as needed by Mr. Parent, this GT40 Mk I was presented by the consignor at the 2009 GT40 reunion.
With a delicately patinated state of presentation that even includes its original Borrani wire wheels and Goodyear tires, GT40 P/1059 offers such overwhelmingly originality and sparing use that it may be regarded as a time capsule example of exceptional quality. The positive evaluation by Mr. Spain, as well as a thoroughly documented history, bolster the provenance of this strikingly authentic example of Ford’s legendary GT40 Mk I. Additionally, as the car’s first two custodians were licensed dealers, this car may essentially be regarded as a two-owner example. Offering minimal use and overwhelming originality, GT40 P/1059 is a peerless example that has never been properly exhibited on the national stage it deserves. This rare Mk I road car will doubtlessly command the attention of the most passionate sports car collectors, promising its next caretaker a warm reception at premium-level concours d’elegance and vintage touring and racing events, such as the Le Mans Classic, Tour Auto, and the Goodwood Revival.