1966 Ford GT 7.0-Litre Mk II
If any car encapsulates the words ‘provenance’, this is it. The Blue Oval made history when, after countless $millions, it finally won the most famous race in the world.
Third on the first lap, third at the finish, ‘1016’ achieved immortality in a thousand photos of the factory Ford Mk IIs, lights ablaze, crossing a rain-sodden track 1-2-3.
Since then, its distinctive livery has endeared it to millions. Now it’s ready to embark on fresh adventures with a new owner.
The Ford Mk II
Ford’s two very public failures at Le Mans in 1964 and 1965 hurt. As a result, for 1966, affairs were put on a war footing and the weapon in Ford’s armoury was the 7.0-litre Mk II.
Although still bearing ‘GT40’ chassis numbers, Mk IIs were based on special monocoques built in the UK from thicker steel with many other improvements to accept the 500bhp NASCAR 427ci ‘big block’ motor. All other parts (suspension, brakes, transmission) were beefed up. Automatic transmission was tested in races before the main event in June.
The Mk II’s bodywork was similar to the production GT40 but was different in almost every respect: wider, taller and featuring extra scoops to cool the engine and brakes. It was stable at any speed and faster flat-out: 205mph vs 196mph. “This chassis will run rings round Ferrari or Chaparral,” Ken Miles said after testing in early 1966.
He was right. With the finest drivers and an unheralded budget allowing multiple-car entries by official teams Shelby American International (SAI) and stock car kings Holman & Moody (H&M), factory Ford Mk IIs won every race they entered in 1966.
The season was crowned by the famous 1-2-3 at Le Mans.
For 1967, the Mk II was upgraded to Mk IIB specification. They never won another race but were still capable of beating almost anything Ferrari could throw at them. Some 1966 cars were upgraded to Mk IIBs and ran again in 1967.
Chassis ‘1016, the gold and pink car here, was one.
This Motor Car
Ford Advanced Vehicles dispatched ‘1016’, the first Mk II, as a bare monocoque to Shelby’s Los Angeles shop on 11 September 1965. It was built up with engine, suspension and body panels by SAI and finished in the company’s 1965 colours of white with a matt black bonnet.
In January 1966, ‘1016’ was sent by road from Los Angeles to Sebring as SAI’s sole Mk II for long-distance testing by Ronnie Bucknum and Ken Miles. It was also used in pre-season publicity shots for Ford by legendary Shelby photographer Dave Friedman.
After the Sebring test, ‘1016’ was handed over to H&M, where it was prepared for the Daytona 24 Hours. Richie Ginther was paired with Ronnie Bucknum, running the car with Ford’s two-speed PowerShift automatic, a factor that led to its retirement after 13 hours. Next stop was Sebring where, still an automatic, ‘1016’ was driven by Bucknum again, this time partnered by the legendary AJ Foyt. The car debuted its famous Kandy Gold colours, with a matt black bonnet to stop reflections. This time brake problems held the car back, but it did finish in 12th place.
By April 1966, ‘1016’ was back in the H&M shop receiving its pre-Le Mans preparation that included fitting a standard T44 manual transaxle. H&M had three cars for Le Mans and all were flown out from New York to Paris only days before the big race. The Day-Glo pink was sprayed by hand at the circuit.
Driven by Ronnie Bucknum and stock car expert Dick Hutcherson, ‘1016’ was the fastest of the H&M entries in ninth slot on the grid. Come the big day, it was up to third early on, before dropping back, then battling through the last agonising hours of the race to complete Ford’s famous ‘line astern’ rigged finish.
Following Le Mans, still in its ‘no. 5’ race livery, ‘1016’ was taken on a tour of Ford dealers in the US. In late-summer 1966 Ford crash-tested a Mk II and the result was a host of safety modifications for the 1967 cars. No new Mk IIs were built, but several – including ‘1016’ – were uprated by SAI and H&M.
Running to Mk IIA/B spec at the 1967 Daytona 24 Hours, ‘1016’ was painted its familiar gold, this time with one-off ‘Mercury’ branding. It was driven by Mark Donohue paired with Revlon cosmetics heir Peter Revson. Like all the other Fords, it suffered from faulty transaxles gifting Ferrari its famous 1-2-3 finish on the Daytona banking.
The car never raced again in period. However, carrying full computer instrumentation and in final Mk IIB spec (wider wheels, a new roll-cage, new lightweight dash, twin four-barrel Holley carbs raising power to 530bhp and lighter, modified bodywork), ‘1016’ was one of two cars airfreighted by Ford for the April 1967 Le Mans test weekend, clocking 203mph on the famous Hunaudières straight. Mission accomplished, ‘1016’ was flown back to New York on 11 April, then trucked to H&M in Charlotte, NC.
Only ever entered in races by Holman & Moody, by August 1967 ‘1016’ was back in North Carolina where it was freshened up as a show car. On Ford’s instruction it was donated in 1970 to Harrah’s Automobile Collection, Reno, Nevada. Inexplicably, although gold and still wearing ‘no. 2’ from the 1967 Le Mans Trials, the chassis plate it bore was ‘GT40 P/1015’, the second-place 1966 Le Mans car.
In 1983 – still as ‘1015’ – the car was sold. According to the Shelby American World Registry, the car’s subsequent owners were as follows:
1983: Leslie Barth, New Haven CT. Repainted light blue to resemble ‘1015’ at Le Mans 1966.
Later: Nick Soprano, White Plains, NY.
1988: Peter Livanos, Greenwich, CT. Prepared by ex-Shelby mechanics for vintage racing.
Later: Bruce Ziegler, Simi Valley, CA.
Later: Jamey Mazzotta, Redding, CA.
Later: George Stauffer, Blue Mounds, WI.
1992: Ken Quintenz, Columbus, OH. Correct ‘1016’ identity now confirmed, restored to Le Mans 1966 specification though retaining some 1967 features.
1996-1997: Sent to Holman Automotive for full race preparation (much work done by original mechanics).
2003: Won ‘People’s Choice’ award at Pebble Beach.
2004: Bought by current owner and meticulously prepared for historic racing.
In his tenure ‘1016’ has been used sparingly – the owner runs an extensive stable of world-class cars including a Lola T70 and Ford GT40 – and primarily at the Le Mans Classic, where it has featured on promotional material for the event. It has been shown at Villa d’Este and was invited to join the first and second-place Mk IIs from 1966 at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
Chassis ‘1016’ is totally ‘on the button’, in 1967 Mk IIB configuration with extended roll-cage, revised dash and ‘asymmetric’ doors.
Few cars can be described as ‘gold standard’. A contemporary of the Ferrari P4, Ford Mk II ‘1016’ has earned that title.