Iconic Ford GT40 raced by Denny Hulme for sale after incredible NZ restoration

It is the perfect time to go out and buy a Ford GT40 … if you’ve got those kinds of funds kicking around. 

The story of Ford’s plucky giant-killing sports car is about to hit big screens all over the world via the upcoming Ford v. Ferrari biopic starring Matt Damon, Christian Bale, and a raft of other A-listers. If it’s anything like Rush, it’ll push plenty of interest towards that motorsport period and the cars that made it.

Short of the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans race winning car shared between Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, this pictured off-white and green GT40 could be the most significant example of the breed for Kiwi collectors. And, it will go up for auction at the UK Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed sale early next month.

The 1966 Ford GT40 Coupe, registration number JFL97D and chassis number P/1042, is a little unassuming at first glance. It isn’t decorated with a famous Gulf Oil paint scheme or attached to some kind of star-studded history littered with victories.

But, New Zealand anoraks will very quickly spot the familiar Kiwi logo on the sides and the name it sits alongside; Denis Hulme.

Denis (Denny, as he’s known by most) is New Zealand’s only Formula 1 world champion — having won the title in 1967 with Brabham. He’s a class winner at Le Mans, but is better remembered for finishing a ‘controversial’ second at the event with Ken Miles in 1966 as countrymen McLaren and Amon won. 

Hulme and Australian Frank Gardner drove this GT40 in 1967 with the Sidney Taylor Racing Team in these colours. Other drivers who steered the chassis include Jackie Ickx, Mike Hailwood, and Jochen Neerpasch. 

Having been driven by a Kiwi with the silhouette of our beloved flightless bird emblazoned on the side is one thing, but what makes this GT40 particularly significant from a local perspective is that it was restored right here.

Over a 10-year period between 2007 and 2017, the GT40 was meticulously reconstructed by Classic Car Developments in Invercargill. According to Bonhams, it was a proper ‘by the book’ rebuild.

“During the course of this car’s ten-year reconstruction, only period-correct original or new-old-stock (NOS) parts were fitted, most of which came with their own provenance,” says the auction house.

“Indeed, apart from most of the monocoque, there are very few reproduction parts on the car.

“Everything on ‘P/1042’ is either original, NOS, or period-correct, right down to the nylon racing hammocks and steering wheel, which were removed from mid-1960s Le Mans GT40s. Even the Smiths/GT40 bespoke instruments are period-correct items, restored by GT40 specialists.

“The four-point harnesses are original Irvin GQ type and have the correct identification stickers still in place after over 50 years. Certified Premier bag tanks are fitted, and as this is a ‘crossover car’ [Le Mans rules for the 1966 race] it has only one fuel filler cap with a pipe running under the seats to transfer fuel from one side to the other.”

As you’d expect, most of those parts integral to an authentic restoration weren’t just sitting on the shelf at SuperCheap Auto. No, instead a worldwide search was conducted via former mechanics, drivers, team managers and the like to find if any of them had original parts that they’d be willing to part with.

The result is a car that — despite sharing parts from multiple places — appeases the authorities who dictate what can and can’t claim to be an ‘original’ GT40. 

Along with the car itself, in all of its beautiful and slightly rough-around-the-edges glory (check our the wear on that steering wheel), it will also come with a large suitcase of memorabilia. Photos, programmes, magazines, and autographed pieces are all included. And so is a photographic record of the GT40’s reconstruction. 

Naturally, it all comes at a price. 

When it goes to auction on July 5, the GT40 is expected to sell for between £850,000 and £1,250,000. Converted, that works out to be between $1.6m and $2.4m. 

Plenty of money for sure. But, a sound investment for someone — hopefully, a Kiwi. 

Originally published at www.driven.co.nz