• GT Roadster

Only Le Mans Racer GT Roadster Up for Auction

One of just five ever built and one of just two to survive today.

Evan Williams By: Evan Williams January 2, 2019
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This could be one of the most expensive Fords to ever sell at auction. It’s certainly one of the rarest. It’s a 1965 Ford GT Competition Roadster. One of just five ever built and one of just two to survive today.

The story of how Ford came to Le Mans is one of the most spiteful of all time. Enzo Ferrari backed out of a deal for Ford to buy the sports car maker in a way that enraged Henry Ford II. And when your name is on the door, you can turn rage into action. He declared war on Ferrari. Though at the track, not you know, actual war. That would be a bit much, even for titans of industry like these.

So Ford went to Le Mans, building the GT in an effort to smash Ferrari at its own game. That meant a flat-out effort to build a car in a very short time period and get it ready to win. In case they had issues with a car or two on the track, Ford brought a whole lot of GTs to the race. Well, a lot by racing standards.

12 prototype cars were built between January 1964 and April 1965. Seven raced, and only four remain today. In an effort to help find the fastest way around the track, some were made as coupes, but there were also some open-top roadsters built. Like this car, serial GT/109. That’s right, this one came before the 40 was added and the cars became the GT40.

This car was given to Carrol Shelby to prepare for Ford of France to enter at Le Mans. It saw extensive modifications for the 1965 race. The seller says it got most of the modifications that were on the car that won Daytona earlier in the year. Like Halibrand magnesium wheels instead of the original wire wheels. And new air dams in the front corner. There was also a Cobra-spec 289 V8 fitted along with a five-speed ZF transmission.

GT Roadster

Other race changes included side-mounted oil coolers. The first for the GTs. There were also vents in the rear to let high pressure air out of the wheel arches. A new rear spoiler balanced out the front air dams, and the car had easier access to important components added for mid-race serviceability.

Ultimately, the car dropped out after lap 11. It suffered from a gearbox failure.

The car was then returned to Shelby American and rebuilt, before going into storage for a couple of years. In 1968, well-known car collector Dean Jeffries found and acquired it. The story goes that Ford Racing Boss Jacques Passino said “you can have it. We’re done with the GT Roadster program.”

In 2013, the car was restored by its third owner, brought back to original configuration, with the Shelby-supplied engine rebuilt. A four-cam Ford engine will be included as well.

It’s the only GT Roadster to race at Le Mans. The Roadster might not be the best-looking of the GT variants, but this one has a whole lot of history. It’s up for sale by Mecum Auctions on January 12th. They aren’t printing an official auctions estimate, but other sources say this car could go for somewhere in the ballpark of US $11 million. Making it one of the priciest Fords ever sold.

GT Roadster

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