The Fourth GT40 – 1964 Ford GT40 Prototype

1964 Ford GT40 Prototype

The outbreak of the Ford-Ferrari wars needs no introduction here, and we all know it was this car, the GT40, that was the sweet fruit of Ford’s labor during that conflict. Developed with help from Eric Broadley of Lola and built at the new Ford Advanced Vehicles facility in England, the very first GT40 to be shown to the public, chassis GT/101, made its debut at the 1964 New York Auto Show. Within weeks, GT/102 was completed, but at the Le Mans practice weekend both Jo Schlesser and Roy Salvadori succumbed to the rear lifting at high speed of the undeveloped GT40, and both cars were wrecked. Two more prototypes were then tested in England and this car, GT/104, was the first GT40 built with lighter chassis steel, 24 in place of 22 gauge. It was then shipped to France for Le Mans to be driven by Schlesser and Dickie Attwood. GT/104 qualified 8th and ran well during the race, but was out in the fourth hour after an engine fire. All of the GT40s of course failed to finish that year, giving the Ferrari camp a resounding victory.

After being repaired back in England, GT/104 was fitted with a 289 Shelby V-8 and given a different nose. At the Nassau Speed Week in November, both it and GT/103 retired. The GT40 went without a single finish in 1964, but Ford gained valuable experience during that first year. Like the rest of the GT40 program, GT/104 was handed over to Shelby American. After being revised aerodynamically, further lightened and given stronger magnesium wheels, the car went to Daytona in February 1965 and was driven by Bob Bondurant and Ritchie Ginther. After a few problems and driver errors, GT/104 came home third. The Ferraris had retired and GT/103 was the winner. GT/104 had bad luck for the remainder of the season and was retired from service as more advanced and developed GT40s were completed, but remained in Ford’s ownership until 1971, when it was sold to its first private owner in Michigan.

Today, it presents as Shelby would have run it in 1965, and is an indisputably important part of Shelby and GT40 history. It is the second oldest example in existence, the fourth prototype, and is represented as having been driven by such greats as Phil Hill, Bruce McLaren, Bob Bondurant, Ken Miles, Jo Schlesser, Richie Ginther and Dickie Attwood. This GT40 belongs in a museum, or at least at as many vintage races as possible. Either way, something this important needs to be seen and not locked away, because Ford fanatics and race fans across the world would be itching to get a look at this car.

This 1964 Ford GT40 Prototype, the first GT40 that scored a podium finish, is offered for sale at the upcoming Mecum Houston sale, scheduled for April 10-12, 2014 at the Reliant Center in Houston, Texas.

[Source: Mecum]

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