FORD GT40

Ex­clu­sive! The re­mark­able restora­tion of P/1046

Octane - - FRONT PAGE - David Lil­ly­white, Edi­tor

GREAT­EST RACE CAR of all time? Well, the GT40 has to be high up in the list, doesn’t it? Few cars have dom­i­nated the Le Mans 24 Hours so con­vinc­ingly, and so evoca­tively, in our life­times. Even the Porsche 917 didn’t notch up as many podium places.

And of the GT40s, there’s none greater than chas­sis P/1046, which took the GT40’s first vic­tory af­ter so many early fail­ures. It sur­vived 3000 miles al­most non-stop for 24 hours and was de­clared the win­ner be­cause it had trav­elled 20 me­tres fur­ther than its sis­ter car.

It seems in­cred­i­ble, then, that not long af­ter that 1966 vic­tory, 1046 was dis­man­tled and bits and pieces of it mounted on dis­play boards. Later it was re­built to race one last time, later still it was con­verted for road use, and later still it was re­stored, but never quite to its in­tended 1966 Le Mans spec­i­fi­ca­tion. Un­til now.

GT40 P/1046 is now as near to look­ing as it did in that day in June 1966 as it ever will, thanks to a painstak­ing restora­tion that was com­pleted just be­fore this year’s Le Mans, and just days be­fore this is­sue of Oc­tane went to press. We were the only mag­a­zine present for the re­stored 1046’s first shake­down test be­fore it headed to Le Mans to take part in a cel­e­bra­tory pa­rade to mark the 50th an­niver­sary of Ford’s 1-2-3 win at Le Mans, and we bring you its full story here, start­ing from page 78.

Else­where in the is­sue we have three more re­cently re­stored cars, all very dif­fer­ent from one another. There’s the 1977 LEC F1 car that David Pur­ley crashed at 140mph – for years it was the hard­est im­pact ever sur­vived by a For­mula 1 driver – and only re­stored from a man­gled wreck in the last cou­ple of years. Our own Richard Meaden was lucky enough to drive it ahead of the forth­com­ing Sil­ver­stone Clas­sic at which it will ap­pear.

Then there’s the lovely Fer­rari 212 Vig­nale, per­fected by the great Paul Rus­sell, and – sur­pris­ingly – the very first McLaren MP412C; just five years old but in need of TLC af­ter be­ing used as the de­vel­op­ment car and then aban­doned at McLaren HQ. What a mix!

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