The Ford GT40 owns a firm spot on the list of the greatest American racecars ever made, being the first car from the United States to take an overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And now Mecum will auction what it claims is second-oldest GT40 still in existence at its Houston sale on April 12.
The story of the GT40 is fascinating. Henry Ford II attempted to buy Ferrari in the early '60s, but Enzo refused. Ford decided if he couldn't have them, then he would beat the Prancing Horse on the track. Ford went to Carroll Shelby and asked him to spearhead the program. The early cars combined a steel monocoque chassis with Ford's 4.2-liter V8 engine pumping out around 350 horsepower. The first prototype made its public debuted on April 1, 1964, at the New York Auto Show.
Shelby kept building prototypes, including GT/104, which is for sale here. This version featured a lighter steel chassis and was raced at Le Mans in 1964. However, a fire forced it to retire. It was then repainted and had a 4.7-liter (289-cubic-inch) engine fitted. The chassis had its best finish at the 1965 Daytona Continental 2,000 Kilometers where it finished third with Bob Bondurant and Ritchie Ginther behind the wheel. Later that season, it was shipped back to Ford where it was restored and displayed at auto shows until 1971 when the automaker sold it. Since then, it has had many private owners.
Mecum believes that the car currently has the same 4.7-liter V8 that was used in the 1965 season and rare Colotti four-speed gearbox. If the car is everything that it says it is, it combines fantastic looks and a storied racing history. It will be interesting to see how it sells. Scroll down for the full release about its history.