The 1965 Ford GT Competition Prototype Roadster, GT/109, which was the only open GT40 to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will be auctioned Saturday, July 11, during Mecum’s Indianapolis auction.
Owned by Dana Mecum, the race car has been fully restored to its original competition specifications as when it ran at Le Mans in 1965 as the Ford GT40 Spyder. The car completed just 11 laps before retiring with transmission failure.
The following year is when Ford GT40s placed first, second and third at the 1966 Le Mans, a stinging rebuke of Ferrari memorialized in the 2019 Hollywood movie Ford v Ferrari.
Just five roadsters were built by Ford Advanced Vehicles in England, and this is 1 of 2 surviving examples. The unique piece of Ford racing history has a pre-auction estimated value of $7.9 million to $10 million.
This is the second time that Mecum will offer the GT/109 at auction. At the company’s signature sale in Kissimmee, Florida, in January 2018, Mecum declined a high bid of $10 million.
GT/109 had an interesting history even when its racing days were done, with just two owners after it left Ford. The car was discovered by famed customizer Dean Jeffries in 1968 stored in a Ford warehouse. He acquired the racer and kept it for 45 years; it’s powered by a high-performance 289 V8 given to Jeffries by Carroll Shelby, who said the engine was the same one the car had at Le Mans.
Jeffries sold the car to Dana Mecum, who completed a three-year restoration, after which he showed it at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In a special GT40 class celebrating 50 years since Ford’s Le Mans victory, GT/109 won second place, losing only to one of the historic GT40s that won Le Mans in 1966. A week later, GT/109 was named Best of Show at the Milwaukee Concours d’Elegance.
This was one of 12 prototypes built by Ford Advanced Vehicles in Slough, England, between January 1964 and April 1965, of which five were roadsters. GT/109 was a special-order version with a chassis stretched three inches and with a removable rollover section.
The car was supplied to Shelby American in March 1965 to be used by Ford of France at Le Mans, driven by Guy Ligier and Maurice Trintignant in their shortened race.
GT/109 was the first GT40 to get side-mounted engine oil radiators, additional rear body-exit air vents, a higher rear spoiler, quick-release Dzus fasteners, special electric fuel pumps, radiator expansion tank and the removable rollover cover that provided better access to ancillary engine systems.
After its 1965 Le Mans debut, GT/109 went to Kar Kraft in Michigan, which used it in the development of the GT40 J-Car project. It was equipped with a 4-cam engine and other experimental components.
After that, it went back to Shelby American, which rebuilt it, and then to the Ford warehouse in Michigan, where Jeffries discovered and bought it. He installed an Indy engine before receiving the original 289 from Shelby.
The GT prototype appears to be the most valuable collector car offered on Mecum’s 2,500-car docket at the Indy auction, which runs through July 18. The event was approved by the state of Indiana to hold the auction with a live audience under current pandemic restrictions. Bidding is also being conducted online.
For more information, visit Mecum’s website.