Back in the 1960s, Bob Riley was working as a young design engineer at Kar-Kraft, the super-secret Ford skunkworks that built the Ford GT40 Mk IV race cars. Now 89 but still working daily, Riley, his son, Bill, and racer Jim Matthews have acquired the Kar-Kraft assets and plan to produce Mk IV “next-generation” continuation cars at Riley Technologies.
“To be reunited with this project is incredible,” Bob Riley is quoted in the company’s announcement. “It was a very special time, and everyone involved at Ford and Kar-Kraft were great people. This brings back a flood of memories of both with the car and the people involved.”
Since his days at Kar-Kraft, Riley has produced race cars that have won the Indianapolis 500 and more than a dozen times in the 24 Hours of Daytona. He and his son, Bill, founded Riley Technologies in North Carolina to produce cars and components, including those used in NASCAR stock car racing.
The Mk IV raced only twice, and won both times. Mario Andretti and Bruce McLaren drove a yellow Mk IV bearing the racing number “1” to victory in April 1967 in the 12 Hours of Sebring race in Florida. Then, that June, Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt shared driver duties as a red No. 1 Mk IV won the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In conjunction with Matthews, who has a long history with the Rileys and has been a race-winning driver and car owner in a variety of Riley built and operated cars and teams over the years, Bob and Bill Riley have acquired and taken delivery in their shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, of Kar-Kraft assets, including tooling, fixtures and original design drawings, “some with Bob Riley’s name on them.”
“Initial plans call for a production run of up to 10 period-correct continuation cars,” Riley Technologies said in its news release. Current plans call for production to begin in 2022.
“It is amazing and somewhat humbling to even have the chance to be involved in continuing the legacy of such an iconic car,” Bill Riley said in the news release. “For sure, this has always been one of my favorite race cars, and to be able to continue producing it makes me very proud.”
“Being involved with Bob and Bill is always great, and I am looking forward to seeing these awesome cars back on track,” Matthews said.