From Brussels to Monaco, via Hollywood, this GT is unique
This may be the only car named for its height – 40 inches. (The follow up was called the GT70, but no, it wasn’t 5ft 10in tall.) In any case the car that finally conquered its overall target, those hallowed 24 hours around La Sarthe, was the 7-litre Galaxie-engined MkII and many enthusiasts will tick you off for calling the bigger version plain ‘GT40’.
No such confusion over the car that RMD in Antwerp has on its stock list, though. It’s a 1965 MkI, the actual car displayed at the Brussels motor show in February 1966 in the same Belgian racing yellow it now wears.
There must have been a crowd around it on the Ford stand; since the car’s announcement everyone was desperate to see Ford’s new weapon; squat, low and equipped with a growling 4.7-litre Ford V8. With a tough steel monocoque centre section, clamshell nose and tail panels and a pair of doors that bit into the roof and could slice off a careless occupant’s scalp like the top of a boiled egg, it was a no-nonsense bruiser with one job in view – to vanquish Ferrari’s delicate hand-built machines with their sonorous overhead-cam V12s.
No such motive sophistication for the Blue Oval: that V8 used pushrods to prod its valves, the rationale being that an under-stretched stock block would stand up to endurance racing. It was a route that Lotus and Tojeiro-Ecurie Ecosse had already explored, as had its designer Eric Broadley with the Lola MkVI that inspired the GT40, but now it had big bucks behind it.
No need to re-tell here the story of eventual Le Mans domination in ‘66; the Brussels car didn’t race at Le Mans – but it ran in the 1966 Formula 1 season. How? As John Frankenheimer’s camera car for the film Grand Prix, driven by Phil Hill and Jack Brabham, with film star James Garner following inches behind at the wheel of his ‘Yamura’. The car’s history file includes much detail of this period, after which it ran on the road in the USA, went to the Cunningham collection and then came home where Anthony Bamford and then Irvine Laidlaw took it racing.
With a healthy competition career at the Le Mans Classic and Goodwood behind it, plus its Hollywood career to boast about, P1027 is a bit special even among GT40s. After all, it’s the only one which ran in a ‘Monaco GP’.