If Automotive Perfection Exists, It’s This Up-for-Auction Ford GT40 Prototype

This Le Mans harbinger was driven by both Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles

1965 Ford GT40 Roadster Prototype
This rare 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster prototype is up for auction.
Robin Adams ©2019 Courtesy of RM Sotheby's
By Alex Lauer / August 6, 2019 5:00 am

The trailer for the upcoming film Ford v Ferrari — starring Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby and Christian Bale as Ken Miles — ends with Shelby making Henry Ford II cry in a Ford GT40 prototype. I don’t know if Ford actually cried, but that test drive really did take place back in 1965. And the car they drove is headed to auction this month.

Specifically, the vehicle in question is a 1965 Ford GT40 Roadster prototype which will be hitting the auction block at RM Sotheby’s Monterey sale on August 16th. It’s expected to fetch anywhere from $7 million to $9 million. If that sounds like an insane price to pay for a 54-year-old car, you’re dead wrong; the history and condition of this particular prototype are second to none.

A short version is that chassis no. GT/108 is one of the prototypes that led to the Ford GT40 winning Le Mans in 1966 (and the next three years, too), ending the six-year streak for Ferrari (the subject of the aforementioned film). That alone makes this part of one of the most important moments in automotive history. 

A slightly longer version of this ‘65 GT40’s backstory makes it even more desirable. As RM Sotheby’s notes in its listing, only 12 designated prototypes (with the GT chassis signifier) were built, and of those only five were roadster configurations. Of those five, this model is the only one “known to have continually survived in its original form.” The preservation of this car can, in large part, be attributed to former owner Tom Congleton, who had a mechanical restoration done but “[refused] to upgrade the GT40 in any way.” Bless you, Tom. 

It would take us longer than a lap at Le Mans to list all of the other selling points for this car, but here are a few to note: Ken Miles drove the car multiple times, for testing as well as promotional purposes; famed Formula 1 driver Jim Clark also drove the car back in 1965; and more recently, it’s been exhibited at concours events around the world, winning a class award at Pebble Beach in 2003.

If that doesn’t convince you that this car is worth the multi-million dollar price tag, that’s OK, RM Sotheby’s has plenty more in its 1,200-word ode. And if you’re serious about getting in on the bidding, the auction house will happily hop on the phone — just be sure to register for the sale ahead of time. No internet bidding or latecomers for this legend.

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