The GT40: Why It Will Always Win at Auction
It would stand to reason that I may have to dine on some crow. In the lead up to the Mecum car auction in Monterey, I said "there's no way that the Can-Am Porsche 917 that was being promoted so heavily was the most significant 917 of all time, like they claimed." Hell, I even said it was not the most important car at the Mecum auction, favoring the '54 Ferrari Monza 750 Spyder. The hammer dropped on the 917 Can-Am and it was sold for $5.5 Million! Talk about eating my words! The Ferrari was a no sale at $2 million, and its reserve, while unlisted, was likely closer to $3 million. So, while I was wrong about the Mecum auction I was not wrong about my argument. Here is what I said: Mecum is making a bold statement calling this the “Most recognized 917 ever.” Whoever is making that claim has clearly never seen the movie “Le Mans,” The crux of my argument: any car what wears the powder-blue-and-orange of Gulf Racing, be it a GT40 or 917, will always take the cake at auction. From our captivation with the film "Le Mans", or our love of the idea of an American car beating Ferrari at its own game. Enthusiasts fawn over the Le Mans Gulf cars.
And perfectly proving my point is this, a 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage that sold for $11 million, and set the record for the most expensive American car at auction, ever. This was one of the original batch of the GT40's and took the checkered flag at Spa in 1967, with the legendary Jacky Ickx at the wheel.
Following the FIA regulation changes in 1968, that brought about the subsequent Marks (or Mk) of the GT40, this chassis was brought back to John Wyer where it was converted to GT40 chassis #: P/1074. Under that designation, it raced at Daytona, Sebring, and Monza in 1968. That year it also set a lap record at Le Mans in race trials.
Right around this same time, Steve McQueen was setting up production of his racing classic "Le Mans" and needed production cars to keep up with the prototypes. What car could possibly keep up with a Porsche 917 or Ferrari 512? How about the make and model of car that beat out both Ferrari and Porsche for four years at the subject track of McQueen's film. Hey, its a proven chassis!
This GT40 was modified heavily for film use. The roof was cut off, parts of the door were removed, and the rear quarter were actually adapted to support a camera AND cameraman. Sure, it was certainly not the last time a Ford was used a production vehicle, but it makes those Super Duty camera trucks look weak-sauce by comparison.
Factor in the power of anything associated with Steve McQueen. Last year a 1970 Porsche 911S that McQueen owned and was his costar for the first three and a half minutes of the film, sold for $1,375,000. That's $35,000 more than the estimated price and 1150% the average selling price of a 1970 Porsche 911 on the classic car market.
This car has been restored back to racing condition. All of the original Mirage body work that pre-dates the GT40 racing duties comes with the car.
This car really proves a point. That any car that has McQueen, GT40, Le Mans, or Gulf Racing in its descriptor will be a valuable car, you can count on that. Combine all four, and you have the most valuable American car ever sold at auction.