Exclusive! The remarkable restoration of P/1046
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!