Restoring a Le Mans-Winning Ford GT40 is Hard Work
Here’s a question. How do you restore quite possibly the most important Ford racecar of all time? Answer: Really, really carefully. Earlier this year, North Carolina’s RK Motors announced that it had purchased not any old Ford GT40 racecar, but the actual #2 Ford GT40 that received the checkered flag at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. Over the years that GT40—chassis P/1046—has passed from private owner to private owner, and in the process it has lost some of its originality. Owner Rob Kauffman is looking to return the Ford to its original race-winning condition, and New Hampshire’s Rare Drive restoration shop is heading up those efforts. Considering this GT40’s incredible history—beating Ferrari and kickstarting four years of Le Mans wins—restoring this legend is no simple job. Take a look. RELATED: See More Photos of the Legendary '66 Ford GT40 Mk II
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A number of the imperfections being addressed date back to the Ford’s exchanges of ownership, on both sides of the Atlantic, which resulted in replacement parts here and vintage racing parts there…including a non-original driver roll cage and shortened tail section. Some of the harder-to-detect replacements came during the GT40’s tenure as a development mule, or following repairs after its retirement at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Nevertheless, all will be made right.
As with any concours-quality restoration, a careful eye and a steady hand are required to ensure that every single component removed is cataloged and properly stored. Teeny tiny washers and bolts are given their own labeled bags. Historic photos are poured over to indicate what stays and what goes. P/1046 earned its triumphant win at the hands of the Shelby American team, it’s only fitting that it remains as close to Shelby’s specification as possible.
The 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance kicks off this Sunday, August 16. If all goes to plan, this Ford GT40 will join the cast and crew when the event reconvenes for 2016.
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