The Ford GT40 MkII that finished third in the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans is to be sold at RM Sotheby's Monterey auction – with a £6.7m to £9m price tag.
Chassis P/1016 is one of the most important Ford racers of all time, having been part of the marque's much-celebrated 1-2-3 at the thrilling race.
The result broke Ferrari's six-year hold on the title and marked the beginning of Ford's own dominance of the gruelling endurance event: GT40s won the following three races.
Powered by a 7-litre V8 engine and measuring just 40 inches high – hence the name – the MkII was developed as part of Ford's three-year plan to win at Le Mans.
That goal was something of an obsession for Henry Ford II, who had become enraged at Enzo Ferrari's decision to back out of a proposed takeover and had decided that beating Ferrari on the track was the best way to retaliate.
The first couple of attempts, in 1964 and '65, were failures, but by '66 the GT40 program was reaching maturity, and MkII models swept the podium places at the 24 Hours of Daytona in February of that year, in preparation for the big race in June.
Chassis P/1016 was itself raced at Daytona, with Ronnie Bucknum and Richie Ginther at the wheel, but retired after 13hrs when its automatic gearbox failed.
Le Mans, though, was a different matter. Bucknum was now joined by Dick Hutcherson, with the pair competing for the Holman & Moody team, and they duly finished third behind winners Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, and second-place Ken Miles and Denny Hulme.
After the success at Le Mans, P/1016 raced three times in 1967: at the Daytona 24 Hours for a second time, in a Daytona test, and in the Le Mans trials.
More recently, it has been a star of multiple car shows, winning the People’s Choice award at Pebble Beach in 2003.
Alexander Weaver, Car Specialist, at RM Sotheby’s, said, “The status of P/1016 speaks for itself, and if it wasn’t for this car, the history of motorsport as we know it would be very different.
"The sale of this GT40 represents a real chance for any collector or motorsport enthusiast to own a significant piece of history. To feature a car for sale that has played such a pivotal role in such a famous race is very important for us as we prepare for the Monterey auction.
"This Ford has been restored to the condition it raced in, which will be a vital consideration for any prospective buyer. Few cars can be considered gold standard, but this GT40 is, and will always be remembered as one of the Fords that finally beat Ferrari.”
RM Sotheby's Monterey auction takes place on 24-25 August. We'll be publishing many more articles about it over the coming months.