In the January of 1966, the California shop of Shelby America delivered a bare chassis labeled as P/1046 which was the number 47 GT40 produced by Ford Advanced Vehicles that made a total of 87 cars. The Shelby crew finished the P/1046 car and ready for the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Driven by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon, it placed 4th in the 55 car track. The GT40 that was used by Dan Gurney and Jerry Grant was the winning car and was only 2 seconds ahead of McLaren’s car.
All 14 Ferraris that were in the race did not make it half of the race. Gurney and Grant’s car overheated around the 17-hour mark. Ken Miles and Denny Hulme with another GT40 passed the McLaren and Amon GT40 taking the lead with only 2 hours left in the race. Unfortunately for Miles and Hulme, Ford racing team manager Leo Beebe had other plans for a 3 GT40 finish. The lead was given to McLaren and Amon winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the officials believed they deserved the glory as they started the race at the back of the line and finishing the race first.
Although the P/1046 was a very significant car for Fords racing history, it did not receive a lot of care and was as a test mule a year after the historic win. In 1965, together with four other Ford cars, it competed in the Daytona 24-hour race but did not make it to the end. It was again used as a test mule and was eventually stripped of parts that was used on other cars. Beat down and taken apart, the P/1046 was sold and passed down through 3 different owners. A rearview close-circuit camera, air-condition system, and a metal-flake gold paint with black trim was added during that time.
In 1983, George Stauffer who was a collector from Wisconsin was looking for a classic Rolls-Roycs when he stumbled upon the P/1046 in Ghent, Belgium. It no longer had its identification plate but with the help of Ronnie Spain, who was an expert of GT40s, and several months of studying, they were convinced that it was indeed the winner of the 1966 Le Mans, the one and only P/1046.
Stauffer was able to restore it to its former glory and was raced in several classic events for almost 3 decades. One of those races is the Road America in 1991 which is shown above where the back cover was removed for a 1 hour tour.
The doors open from the top so you have to vertically climb down to get into the driver’s seat. The cockpit is a pit cramped with the 7.0 L V8 engine just behind it. You can hear the roaring sound of the engine with the Holley four-barrel. Although it is a tight fit, the cockpit is still very comfortable seating within the Gurney roof bubble, well ventilated upholstery, and a panoramic view through the wraparound windshield. Knowing that McLaren and Amon were also sitting in that very cockpit gives a chilling sensation. The three-spoke vertical steering wheel provides effortless driving. A raised step was placed for the left foot to rest on. The brake and accelerator pedals were placed for never-miss heel and toe action. The tall shifter was very smooth in shifting gears and a clever blocker that prevents any accidental shifting.
The high torque V8 was mounted just right and works perfectly with the Toploader 4 speed transaxle. The P/1046 drives like the newer Mustang GTs. Under a pro driver, it could easily reach 200 mph through the Mulsanne straight. With proper piston displacement, convenient driving dynamics, and a very reliable drivetrain, it is clear how it manage to defeat the 6 win streak of Ferrari at La Sarthe.
In 2010, the P/1046 was again sold to Aaron Hsu from New York for over $10 million and was sold again in 2014 for an amazing $22 million to Rob Kauffman. It has now gone in another restoration done by Rare Drive Shop from New Hampshire, the P/1046 will then be delivered to France to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the historic race.