A 1964 Ford GT40 – only the fourth example built and second oldest in existence – is set to go under the hammer at Mecum's Houston sale on 12 April.
Following Ford's failed takeover of Ferrari, the Detroit firm began working on its own project to give the Italian manufacturer – and Enzo personally – a black eye in endurance racing. The result, in connection with British company Lola, was the GT40. Four prototypes were quickly built, the last of which was graced by a lightweight chassis.
Testing for the the big stage – Le Mans – was well underway in 1964 when GT10/1 and GT10/2 both crashed during testing; the task of taking on the Italians at Le Mans then fell to GT40/4. It made its debut at La Sarthe with scarcely 50 miles of testing logged.
Despite this clear handicap, Jo Schlesser and Richard Attwood managed to steer the car to 8th in qualification, and though leading by the second lap and breaking 200mph, an engine fire halted their progress after just four hours of driving.
The following season was kinder to the GT40 programme, at least initially, with GT10/4 finishing third and sister car GT10/3 taking victory at the 1965 Daytona Continental 2000km. Success, however, was short lived. Suspension failure cut short GT10/4's races at both Sebring and Monza, and a missed pitstop during the Nürburgring 1000km cost it a podium finish. As a result, both GT10/3 and GT10/4 were dropped from the Le Mans line-up and were retired from competition.
The car remained in Ford's ownership until 1971, when it was sold to its first private owner. It passed through three further pairs of hands before reaching GT40 specialist Paul Lanzante in 2010, who finally completed a restoration that had started in 1978.
The car retains its competition features, including its chassis, which utilised thinner steel than the earlier cars, as well as its 1965 289cu in competition engine with correct Le Mans internals.
Not quite got the cash? Click here to see a replica GT40 for sale in the UK. It could be yours for as little as £27,000.
Photo credit David Newhardt courtesy of Mecum Auctions.