Ford’s mighty GT40 is one of those rare models that requires little introduction. Winning Le Mans four times and sporting a roster of some of racing’s greatest legends, including Bruce McLaren, A.J. Foyt, Dan Gurney, and Carroll Shelby, has a way of speaking for itself. But the GT40 is not just significant for its racing supremacy over Ferrari’s dominant Scuderia, but also for its revolutionary and aesthetically appealing mid/rear-engine design, a layout that would eventually become the hallmark of any fearsome exotic supercar. To establish the 50-car Group 4 racing homologation that Ferrari’s concurrent and similarly designed 250LM would never enjoy, the GT40 began a run of road car examples that featured more luxuriously trimmed cockpits by late-1965. These road cars remained mechanical beasts and were, of course, equipped with race-prepared 289 CID Ford Hi-Po engines and the competition car’s finely tuned suspension.
This sensational Mark I GT40 road car is a very well-documented and beautifully maintained example that vividly demonstrates the legendary model’s finer qualities. Ford Advanced Vehicles, Ford’s English design studio responsible for GT40 production, completed 1034 in late-1965. The car’s delivery date, March 17, 1966, makes this the fourth purpose-built road car. In addition to standard road car amenities, like interior carpeting, non-perforated leather seats, and leather door pouches, 1034 was optioned with a heated windscreen, reverse lights, fender mirrors, an electric clock, two fuel gauges, mufflers, and Pine Green paint, with a noted stipulation of “no lines [stripes] on the rocker panels.”
This GT40 was initially purchased by James Fielding, of Gloucester, England, and was the very first GT40 production road coupe delivered to the United Kingdom. It was probably no coincidence that Mr. Fielding was the chairman of Heenan & Froude, the company that manufactured the dynamometers on which the GT40s were tested. Whether or not his stature within the company gave him preferential access to the GT40 is a matter of speculation, but there is no arguing with his taste, as 1034’s elegant color livery lent a more civilized façade to the powerful mid-engine racer.
A young relative of one of Mr. Fielding’s neighbors, Paul Weldon, soon took notice of the GT40 and eventually made overtures to the owner about acquiring the Ford. In 1971, Mr. Fielding finally agreed, but only in a trade for a particular Rolls-Royce that he desired, which Mr. Weldon soon located. Thrilled to finally acquire the longtime subject of his pining, Mr. Weldon repainted 1034 in British Racing Green and set about some vintage racing, including the six-hour relay at Silverstone in 1973, as well as an exhibition at Le Mans and a GT40 concours at Brands Hatch, where the car took Best in Show. Like Mr. Fielding, Mr. Weldon also used 1034 as it was intended, as a road car.
In July 1974, Mr. Weldon traded 1034 to fellow Englishman Anthony Hutton for Mirage M1/10001, the first of just three Mirage GT40s built (a strong endorsement of 1034’s overall desirability). Less than a year later, 1034 was purchased by George Parlby, who relocated the car to Australia and commissioned mechanical work by Bob Davidson’s Pro-Tech, of Sydney. Mr. Parlby campaigned 1034 frequently at various venues in his native Outback until 1982, when he temporarily retired the car from vintage racing.
Over the next two years, the owner commissioned a full engine rebuild, as well as a repaint in the famous Gulf Team color livery of Powder Blue offset with Marigold stripes. Prepared in this respect, the GT40 was presented at the 1985 Australian Grand Prix (the event’s inaugural year), and two years later, it was the subject of a story in the October 1987 issue of Sports and Classic Cars magazine, one of many Australian motoring press features eventually written about the car. Sometime following this, the GT40 relocated to American shores, purchased by GT40 specialist and enthusiast Harley E. Cluxton III, of Scottsdale, Arizona, before passing to Mr. Walton, also of Arizona. Under his entry, the car participated in the third Copperstate 1000. It was then passed into the hands of yet another well-known GT40 aficionado, George Stauffer, of Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, by 1995.
Later that year, 1034 was acquired by Peter Roessler, of Weilsburg, Germany, who returned the car to Europe. Though the GT40 remained in excellent, overall condition, Mr. Roessler conducted some additional restoration, continuing the race preparation theme and usage. In this finely tuned state, 1034 was entered in numerous vintage racing events, including the Grand Prix of Stuttgart held at the famed Hockenheimring circuit, where the car finished 1st overall.
In August 1999, 1034 was acquired by David Bowden, of Queensland, Australia. The GT40 drew awards at numerous Australian concours and Ford shows, and Mr. Bowden, a known and respected competition Ford collector, entered the car in several vintage races, frequently driven by Kevin Bartlett, a two-time Australian Driver’s Champion and former teammate of F1 driver Frank Gardner. These events included the 1999 Adelaide Classic, the International Supersports Cup Race at the 2000 Australian Grand Prix, and the 75th Anniversary Rally for Ford Australia, held in March 2000. By May 2001, Mr. Bowden had repainted the car in its original factory shade of Pine Green, though he updated the elegant road car’s color livery with silver Le Mans stripes, a subtle hint of the 1034’s considerable racing prowess.
Returned to the United States by its current owner, 1034 was soon presented at some of the West Coast’s most prestigious concours, including the Carmel-by-the-Sea Concours on the Avenue, held in conjunction with Pebble Beach, The Quail “A Motorsport Gathering,” and the exclusive Car Classic Concours held at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, one of transportation design’s most sacred institutions.
Still featuring the sensational cosmetic benefits of its long life of careful maintenance and thoughtful restoration, 1034 is a well-documented example, certified by GT40 expert Ronnie Spain, recorded in the Shelby American Registry, and accompanied by full FIA paperwork. The car will be supplied with its original numbered, front and rear body panels and hood. An early ZF.5DS.25 transaxle, believed to be its original, will also be supplied. Additionally, excellent historical documentation will be on hand, including several original Bills of Sale from EF Hutton through to the current owner, as well as the old Arizona title with subsequent reassignments. Previous restoration efforts have also been extensively photo-documented dating back to the ’70s. Finally, a copy of the Ford Advanced Vehicle Production data sheet, build sheet, and correspondence from Ronnie Spain, previous owners, mechanics, and historians completes the extensive history file on 1034.
P/1034 remains one of 87 Mark I production examples. Despite its road-going mandate, 1034 possesses a competition record of considerable merit, and it continues to offer gut-wrenching racing performance and international eligibility in premier events, including the Monterey Historics, the Goodwood Revival, the Le Mans Classic, the Tour Auto, and many others. Its acceptance both on and off the race track and concours field is endless. This is, quite simply, an exquisite and outstanding example of a celebrated Ford racing legend. With a continuous and unblemished history, 1034 undeniably represents a benchmark in the birth of the modern mid-engine sports car.
380 hp, 289 cu. in. V-8 engine with four Weber 48IDA carburetors, five-speed manual transmission, four-wheel independent suspension, and four-wheel disc brakes. Wheelbase: 95 in.
Part of the RM Auctions event in Arizona in January, 2013.
Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Pawel Litwinski