It’s no secret that Ford wanted to create a car capable of crushing Ferrari at the track when they developed the GT40. The dominance of the GT40 at Le Mans during the late 60s was a clear sign that Ford had accomplished their missions. I’m willing to bet the designers had no idea their creation would beat a Duesenberg for the title of most expensive American car.
In 2011, at Pebble Beach, a 1931 Duesenberg Model J Long-Wheelbase Murphy Coupe J460 sold for $10.34 million dollars, making it the most valuable American made car to date. Given the racing heritage of Duesenberg and the exquisite hand made details set the Model J at the head of a class typically reserved for cars from Europe.
There was some buzz about a particular car leading up to RM Auctions, Monterey event this weekend. People have been trying to guess where bidding would stop for the Ford GT40, chassis number 1074. The car won races at Spa, Monza and Watkins Glenn. Jacky Ickx set a track record at Le Mans while driving this car. After being retired from racing, Steve McQueen used it to film the classic movie, Le Mans. He insisted that all racing scenes be filmed at speed rather than resorting to film tricks so they fitted chassis 1074 with camera gear and a trick roof. Since then, the car has been restored to it’s original condition and enjoyed track time at Goodwood and other speed festivals.
Given the history of this car, it’s no surprise that it set a new record price for an American car when the hammer fell at $11 million dollars. This price actually feels just right when I start comparing it to the rarified Ferrari 250 GTO that it was designed to beat. I look at the comparable racing histories, the limited production, association with celebrities and the unique beauty of each car and have a hard time deciding which would be first in my dream garage.
There is only one Ford GT40 with chassis 1074 and only one collector can have it at any time. For collectors that want to own a bit of this history, they will have to hunt for an appropriate scale model. The sister GT40, chassis 1075, is the one that was the first car to win Le Mans twice so that’s the one that most model manufacturers build. Jeff, owner of Pro Diecast Review, wrote up a great list of models that have been built for all the different chassis numbers for the GT40 series that can be found at Scale143.com. His list shows only the IXO model of chassis 1074 but I’ve also discovered that Bang (which became Art Model which is now an imprint for M4 Model Cars) made a model of this chassis that is comparable to the IXO model as well as the pictured model from Bizarre diecast.
While I can appreciate the accomplishments of a particular car, I’m happy to collect any car of the same make. I have several different versions of the GT40 in my collection and even built the simple paper model available from the Lithuanian blogger, Grumlinas.