It was during this legendary endurance race that the Ford-Ferrari duel of the 1960s reached its climax when the Dearborn manufacturer won first, second and third places with its GT40.
Ronnie Bucknum and Dick Hutcherson, two US drivers belonging to the Holman & Moody team, were at the helm of this number 5 car (seen on the far left in the Ford archive photo below) when it completed the 348-lap race to finish third in the overall standings.
Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon shared the car that crossed the finish line first, while Ken Miles and Denny Hulme drove the one that finished second.
Their GT40 Mk IIs were the result of an evolution of the original Ford GT program. The “40” referred to the low height of the bodywork, whose roof stood just 40 inches (1,016 mm) above the pavement.
The Mk II was powered by a centrally mounted 7.0L V8 specially prepared for the race to generate the 540 hp needed to push the car to nearly 300 km/h.
This engine was very different from those of Ford’s European rivals. The Porsche 906s had a 1.9L “Boxer” six-cylinder, while the Ferrari 275 GTB Competizione had a 3.3L V12.
After the Le Mans victory in 1967, the GT40 chassis P/1016 would be registered in three other important events; that year’s 24 Hours of Daytona race was the car’s last due to gearbox problems that prematurely ended its dominating presence on the track.
In 1970, this car was donated to the Harrah Museum in Reno, Nevada, where it was displayed for several years before changing hands among private collectors. In 2003, the car was named the People’s Choice winner at the prestigious Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California. In 2004, Swiss collector Claude Nahum acquired it and showed it periodically.
Restored at great cost by Mr. Nahum, who owns two other GT40s, the Le Mans winner once again wears its original gold livery. RM Sotheby’s experts estimate that will help the car attract a winning bid somewhere between USD$9 and $12 million in Monterey.
It will be on display at New York’s Sotheby’s headquarters from June 21st.