It’s hard to imagine a more dominant force in motorsports than the Ford GT40. And thanks to renowned car collector, Wayne Carini of Chasing Classic Cars, one of the finest specimens of the GT40 will be up for auction this week at Mecum Auctions in Kissimmee, Florida. That’s right, for an estimated $2.5M, you could own this piece of racing history.
The Ford GT40 was the result of Ford’s intense desire to take down Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, made all the more famous by the 2019 film, FORD v FERRARI. Minor spoiler alert, but take down Ferrari they did, with the GT40 Mk II securing a 1-2-3 sweep of the 1966 race. Despite sweeping victory, Ford was still fueled by discontent — or just plain hubris (aren’t we all?). Before the GT40 Mk II’s brakes cooled down after crossing the finish line at Le Mans, Ford’s in-house specialty contractor Kar Kraft was busy turning the next generation of GT40 up to 11 in the form of something called the “J-Car.”
Named after the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile’s (FIA) Appendix J rules for sports prototypes, the J-Car was built on a highly advanced chassis made of honeycomb-aluminum sandwich paneling, which sounds tasty but meant that the lightweight and extremely rigid chassis was a crucial factor in allowing the J-Car to carry the big iron-block NASCAR 427 engine and all its heavy-duty counterpart components. However, initial tests revealed some serious aerodynamic problems. But with the help of Shelby American Chief Engineer Phil Remington and some intense testing, the J-Car was transformed into the beast of a GT40 Mk IV seen here.
This new and improved GT40 was the most technically advanced and powerful racing prototype of its time, fulfilling Henry Ford II’s dream of building an all-American racer driven by American drivers to decimate at Le Mans. In 1967, the GT40 Mk IV, with Shelby-American drivers Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt at the wheel, secured a second consecutive victory for Ford at Le Mans and also won the FIA’s Index of Thermal Efficiency as the most fuel-efficient entrant (put that in your cannoli, Ferrari). The GT40’s dominance was undeniable, and Ford’s double defeat of Ferrari became one of the most memorable moments in motorsports history.
The Mk IV was so dominant in the Sebring and Le Mans races that the FIA deemed it illegal for the following year in 1968.
In total, only 12 GT40 Mk IV chassis were ever built. The first four featured the original J-Car bodywork, but two of those were destroyed in testing, one that tragically killed test driver Walt Hansgen and another equally tragic instance which took the life of Ken Miles. The second group of four were fitted with the revised Mk IV bodywork and went on to win both of their races in 1967. The Mk IV was so dominant in the Sebring and Le Mans races that the FIA deemed it illegal for the following year in 1968.
The final four chassis were left uncompleted after the FIA’s new rules that disqualified the GT40 Mk IV from competition. Two of those chassis, J-9 and J-10, were later converted into open-cockpit racers and raced in the Can Am series in the late 1960s and early 1970s. J-10, in particular and seen here in these photos, had a successful run, finishing in second place at the Kyalami Group 7 invitational in 1970.
Over the years, J-10 has undergone various changes and restoration efforts — most recently with a four-year restoration completed in 2017 — but it remains a testament to the legacy of the Ford GT40 and its incredible dominance in motorsports. J-10 is now considered one of the rarest racing prototypes of the 20th century and has an unbroken ownership chain, making it a valuable artifact in Ford‘s timeline and a true piece of American racing history.
The Mecum Auction in Kissimmee, Florida is from January 4-15. Learn more here.