If it's not the most important race car in Ford Motor Company's [NYSE:F] history, it's in the top three. Ford GT40 Mk. II chassis number P1046 was the car that officially won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. It was the culmination of Ford's effort to beat Ferrari at its own game, and not only did P1046 win, it was part of a one-two-three finish for the Blue Oval.
You would think that Ford stashed P1046 in a museum or its archives after drivers Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon achieved Henry Ford II's goal of beating the brand that had spurned a buyout attempt a few years earlier. That's not the case. Instead, the car became a transmission test mule, and saw untold modifications over the years.
Rob Kaufman, owner of classic car dealer RK Motors Charlotte, bought ol' P1046 in August 2014, and saw that, while it was in very good shape (the pictures here show how it looked prior to restoration) and in fact had done some vintage racing, something was off. It wasn't in the configuration of its greatest achievement, the 1966 Le Mans win, and that needed to change.
With that in mind, RK Motors looked for the best shop to restore the car to its Ferrari-beating guise. That search led to Rare Drive, Inc. of East Kingston, New Hampshire. Rare Drive owner Mark Allin had previously restored a Ford GT40, so he would already be familiar with the subject matter. "Mark Allin has an encyclopedic knowledge of the Ford GT40 and has a true enthusiast's passion for historical accuracy during the restoration process," said Joseph Carroll, president of RK Motors LLC.
To commemorate the restoration of P1046, RK Motors is putting together a series of videos on the car's history and its restoration. Here in part one, entitled "#P1046: The Legend of Le Mans," RK goes heavy on the history. Watch the video above and you'll learn about the reason Ford got into international racing in the first place, Carroll Shelby's role, and the controversial finish of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. You'll also meet Allin, the man who is actually performing the restoration.
And better yet, there is commentary from GT40 historian Ronnie Spain, all delivered with a delightful Scottish accent.
We will follow the project in the coming weeks. The plan is for it all to culminate in June at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, where the completed car will be unveiled. Ford, which is marking the 50th anniversary of its historic win by competing in the race with the Ford GT, should appreciate the presence of this legendary car.