The history of a much-campaigned racing car is rarely straightforward. Key components may be replaced to keep the car competitive, parts may be “borrowed” from a sister car during the course of a race or to repair accident damage and sometimes, like the featured car, it may change identity altogether…
Research into the racing career of this car revealed its checkered past and the decision was taken to refer to this car as “1031/1047” to symbolize most accurately the rich racing heritage it accumulated under both serial numbers.
Nobody knows quite how, but sometime during mid-June 1967, this Mk II-B GT40, which had started life as No. P/1031, a 7-liter Mk II GT40 built at Ford Advanced Vehicles in Slough, England, mysteriously changed identity and became No. P/1047.
“There were a lot of shenanigans with the GT40s,” recalls a Ford insider. “At the start of each season a carnet had to be raised for each car and a large bond deposited to ensure its appearance on the start line. In the event of an accident that made it impossible to repair a car before it was due to race again, it was less expensive to switch chassis plates with another car than forfeit the money that had been deposited…”
And that is what seems to have happened to this GT40, which had already completed a grueling season’s racing in 1966 before being uprated to 1967 Mk II-B specification, with its 427 cubic inch V8 engine modified to deliver greater power, reliability and durability with a “dry-deck” cylinder block and a new induction system.
For the 1967 Le Mans 24-hour race, Ford – anxious to repeat its sensational 1-2-3 victory of 1966 – entered a six-car team. There were two Mk II-B GT40s – this car, which ran as No. 57, painted light blue, and No. 1047, which was painted gold and ran as No. 5 – and four of the new lighter and more aerodynamic Mk IV “J-cars” with bonded aluminium honeycomb frames. Additionally Ford-France entered a third Mk II-B (No. 1015), while JW Engineering, which had taken over the FAV operation in Slough at the beginning of 1967, ran a 289 cubic inch GT40 and two 305 cubic inch Ford-powered Mirage sports prototypes. This car retired after 18 hours with a seized engine. GT40 No. 1047 had already crashed and would not race again that year.
After a hasty rebuild by Holman & Moody in Charlotte, North Carolina this car – now fitted with the chassis plate of No. 1047 – returned to France and won the 12 Hours at Reims just two weeks after Le Mans. It was the last Mk II – and the only Mk II-B – to win a race.
Photos – Peter Harholdt
Most race cars were non-competitive after their first campaign — the 1927 Vauxhall was competitive for 23 years (1927–1950) and you can see it in person. Learn more