Ford of France’s GT40 Was Built to Win
Story and photography by Rémi Dargegen
The Ford GT40 is a living legend, for all generations. Such form, such curves, such noise… It’s a real American monster, built to win. But would it? This example is chassis number 1007. It’s an original Ford of France car, with a very well known history. And we can say that this car is quite famous…
The car was finished on August 28th, 1965 with a 4.7 liter engine, and was sent directly to Europe, more precisely to Monza Motorship, next to a Shelby Daytona Coupe. The car was then integrated to the Ford of France team for exhibition at the Paris motorshow in October 1965.
But its racing career didn’t begin until April 2nd and 3rd 1966, during the the test days for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24, driven by Ligier, Gradé and Giorgi. It sported its Ford of France livery, white with one wide blue band and two thin red bands, and has its registration number LBH 416C, that the car still wears today. The car ran the best time of the Sport class, in 3’41.9, only seven and a half seconds behind the new 7 liter Ford prototype, as there were no Ferrari or Chaparral works cars testing.
Its first real race took place on April 25th, the Monza 1000 kilometers. After some mixed tests, the car took sixth place during the race piloted by racers Guy Ligier and Henri Greder. Then the two drivers also ran the Targa Florio, but the powerful Ford had a rough with the twisty course. Making matters worse, neither driver knew the 72km layout well. The car finished an honorable twelveth place after Guy put the car off road, breaking a wheel. They had been running in fourth with one lap to go.
Finally the fateful days arrived: May 18th and 19th, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Guy Ligier drove the 1007 along with racer Bob Grossman. They gave up after 15 hours because of a distributor problem. The same year, the car raced three times on the autodrome of Montlhéry, with the only victory coming in the last race during the Coupes de Paris, driven by Mr. Innes Ireland. During the Coupes du Salon, Mr. Jo Schlesser had to retire due to a gearbox nut which wasn’t torqued properly, and at the Paris 1000 kilometers mid-October, driven by Jo Schlesser and Mr. Richard Attwood, the car went off-track violently during the first lap.
During the winter of 1966-’67, 1007 was completely overhauled and repaired, receiving a new 289 cubic inch engine with the 1967 specifications and lighter front and engine hoods.
The 1967 seasons began with the Monza 1000 kilometers again. Exactly one year later, Guy Ligier, this time with Jo Schlesser, finished the race in sixth overall position again and won the Sport class. During the Targa Florio, Jo and Guy led the Sport class until Schlesser hit a milestone in an oversteer and broke the front left suspension. Its next race would be its last. 1007 wrapped up its racing career at the Nürburgring 1000 kilometers. Guy and Jo finished third in the Sport class and tenth overall.
After its racing career, 1007 became famous in an other way, as it was used in the famous Claude Lelouch movie Un Homme et Une Femme, driven by Jean-Louis Trintignant on the Montlhéry autodrome.
Following the 1967 season, the car was sold to the famous Ferrari collector Pierre Bardinon who kept it three years and then sold it to its second private owner who kept the car for thirty years, during which it was restored at Bryan Wingfield’s. The current owner bought it about ten years ago, and since then has taken part in many historic competitions like the French Tour Auto and the Coupes de Printemps, so that the car returned to the track where it won its only race.