by Wallace Wyss
|A stunning shade of blue|
The Monterey Car Week saw many significant Shelby-related cars sold, and one of the most historically significant ones was Prototype GT40 No. 104 --sold Sunday evening at the Gooding auction in Monterey for a $4.50 million hammer price = $4.950 million all in including commission. This was less than half the price of a GT40 that sold at another auction that weekend on the same peninsula but that other GT40 had the hallowed Steve McQueen connection. The historical claims that Gooding announced for it are for it being:
- The fourth GT40 Prototype and the first to receive a lightweight chassis
- A Ford Motor Company 1964 Le Mans debut entry
- One of two GT40s to podium in the GT40’s first completed race, resulting in a third overall at the 1965 Daytona Continental
- Driven by Hill, McLaren, Bondurant, Miles, Schlesser, Ginther, Attwood, Amon and Other Works Drivers
- The second-oldest surviving GT40
This 1964 car has been through many hands. It is more rare than the average GT40 because it was a 1964 car and originally had a duck billed platypus shaped nose (see drawing). Shelby-American was delivered the car by Ford after the disastrous 1964 season and rebuilt the car with a new nose—eliminating the narrow nose look, and many other changes including the front partial front spoilers and a fog lamp.
The biggest change Shelby made was to throw out the 255-cu. In. “Indy” alloy block and put in a more reliable 289. He still kept the Colotti gearbox, though, and it was with that engine that it finished third in the Daytona Continental 2000Km in 1965, with Ken Miles/ Lloyd Ruby sharing the driving.
Race cars can be “famous” in more than one body configuration/mechanical set-up and for historical reasons I would urge bringing it back to the ’64 configuration but you can see why it’s much more popular in the body style it is now—that of a winning car instead of its first configuration where it was a total loser. It is the one car that signifies what Carroll Shelby and crew brought to the table when Ford--hat in hand--took their losing GT40s to Shelby and tasked him with making the car right. All the other GT40s prepared for racing followed the ideas tried on this car.
THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss is the author of SHELBY: The Man, The Cars, the Legend, now it its second edition (Iconografix, Hudson, WI)