The GT40 is undoubtedly the most iconic sports-racing car produced by Ford. Following a failed bid to purchase Ferrari, Henry Ford set out to build a car that would beat them at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans – something the GT40 did not once, but four times consecutively from 1966 to 1969.
Twelve prototypes were built before the GT40 entered Mk1 production, with a minimum of 50 examples required to meet the FIA homologation. Many of these were built in ‘race’ configuration and sold to privateers, with others designated as ‘road cars’ and sold through Ford dealers.
This GT40, chassis P/1055 is one of only 32 GT40’s originally built up to full road car specification. Built by Ford Advanced Vehicles (FAV) in Slough, England under the direction of John Wyer, the cars were built in four batches of eight cars each, with P/1055 being built as part of the first original batch. Finished in Atlantic Blue and fitted with Borrani wire wheels, P/1055 was dispatched in November 1966.
This first batch of cars were the only ones built by FAV as Ford’s contract with Wyer expired at the end of December 1966. From 1967 onward, the remaining three batches of cars were built by FAV reformed as JW Automotive Engineering, wholly owned and operated by John Wyer and John Willment.
On completion P/1055 was delivered new to Ford Division, Dearborn, USA on the 10th November 1966 and would become one of nine GT40’s retained in their stock inventory for dealer network displays.
Ford retained use and ownership of the car for two years before selling P/1055 to Mr Al Virzi in Detroit – the sale price was $3,000!
By 1977 the car was registered as the property of one Edsel Ford II, great-grandson of Henry Ford the founder of the firm which built the car. Edsel had the car completely restored by Jim Toensing and Phil Remington at Dan Gurneys AAR workshops in California.
Edsel retained the GT40 until 1983 when it was sold via the Sports Car Exchange in Dearborn to John Mecom Jr, the former racing team entrant and patron. During Mecom’s ownership the car was displayed in the Steve Forristal Collection in Houston, who later offered P/1055 for sale on behalf of Mecom.
It was acquired by Al Guggisberg’s Old Timer Garage in Berne, Switzerland. Initially the car remained in storage in America, cared for by Bruce Zeigler in Simi Valley, California, but it was eventually shipped out to Switzerland, where Guggisberg set about selling it. One potential customer, an ex-patriot Englishman now resident in Geneva, recruited his friend Jackie Stewart to test drive him in the car.
This was only the fourth time Stewart had ever driven a GT40, but the fact that he found the brakes to be non-existent did not stop him throwing the car around enough to make a lasting impression on his passenger.
Guggisberg sold P/1055 in 1993 to Frenchman Pascal Mimran, who would later own Lamborghini. Pascal would race P/1055 in a number of historic events before the GT40 was re-patriated back to the UK. Following a restoration of the car by UK marque specialists Historic Automobiles, P/1055 changed ownership once more in 2010. Upon completion, the current owner has campaigned the GT40 all over Europe, with numerous appearances at the Goodwood Revival and the Spa 6 Hours.
P/1055 remains a highly original and genuine example of arguably Ford’s greatest success story.
Photo Credit: Riiko-Andre Nuud, Riiko Photo