Race Car Restoration: Ford GT40

Nigel Medcalf of Moto Historics recalls his most memorable restoration and a Ford with a bit of history

This restoration took place about a year ago, but I always remember it because of the lengths we went to restore it rather than rebuild it.

We always try to keep the cars we restore as original as possible. That’s why the owner of the ex-Ford France GT40 came to us in the first place. We were able to keep this one absolutely as it was because he was only planning to do the odd tour rather than actually racing it.

The car had a really nice history, even though it didn’t race that much in period and hadn’t done many historic events. It was one of two Ford France cars and was driven by Guy Ligier, Jo Schlesser, Richard Attwood and others, competing at the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1966 and in the Targa Florio on two occasions. Innes Ireland won the Grand Prix de Paris at Montlhéry in it in September 1966.

The car today is more or less as it finished its contemporary career. So much of the car is original, including the windscreen. It is probably the only GT40 on the planet to have that. Our job was to strip everything back and then rebuild it exactly as it was. The wiring loom is original, as are the dampers. We just sent them away to be rebuilt. We even reground the brakes discs that were on the car. 

The only things that we replaced on safety grounds were things like the brake master cylinders, but we still used a Girling unit that matched the original. The brake lines were new, of course, but we tried to find unions that matched what was on the car. 

The rear part of the chassis floor was modified after it left Ford France’s ownership to have a bigger engine fitted. The owner wanted us to retain this, even though it now had a proper 289 cubic inch V8 on IDA carbs back in, because he saw it as part of its history. 

Once we had finished with it, the originality of the car was outstanding. You could even see the chassis number 1007 written underneath the black vinyl on the centre console – in exactly the same place and same style as it was in old photographs of the car in period.

It really is that good. It was such a lovely car to work on.

Current projects

Jaguar XJR-8 no287 

The TWR Jag in which Raul Boesel took victories at Silverstone, Brands Hatch and the Nürburgring on the way to the 1987 World Sports Car Championship title. Status: Full race prep in readiness for a return to competition soon.

Aston Martin Vantage GT2 no006 

Raced by the British JMW Motorsport squad in the Le Mans 24 Hours and the Le Mans Series in 2010. Drivers included Darren Turner and Rob Bell. Status: Just back from the Aston Martin Festival at Le Mans after full rebuild.