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The Last of 12 GT40 Mk IV Chassis BuiltHarry T. Heinl, Miami Lakes, Florida (acquired as a bare tub from Ford circa 1970)Brian Angliss, Weybridge, Surrey, UK (acquired as a bare tub from the above in 1977)Rod Leach, Hertfordshire, UK (acquired as a bare tub, plus parts to complete, from the above in 1977)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 1994)
The GT40, the first complete car designed and built solely for racing by Ford Motor Company, is among the most famous names in the history of the automobile. The brainchild of John Wyer and Eric Broadley, the GT40 was built at the behest of Henry Ford II solely to compete at the highest levels of sports car racing and to beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Four consecutive victories at the French endurance race from 1966 to 1969 cemented the GT40’s legacy, and it has become one of the most desirable and collectible racing machines ever produced.
While the original GT40 was overseen by Ford’s management in Dearborn, Michigan, the car was largely built by specialists in the UK. By early 1966, Ford decided that it would prefer to win with a US-built car and, in a patriotic shift, started development of the “J-Car,” so named because it was built to the FIA’s new Appendix J regulations. The new model was designed in-house and built in Detroit at Kar Kraft, a company that essentially became Ford’s own racing shop.
Construction of the J-Car, later known as the Mk IV, proceeded differently from the original GT40; it used a sophisticated, space-age aluminum honeycomb material for the majority of its structure. Designed to be both lighter and stronger than the earlier cars, the J-Car’s bodywork was originally penned by stylists, but after testing at Le Mans in April 1966 showed that the design had excessive drag, a wind tunnel was utilized to hone the shape to a more flowing profile.
In accordance with the Appendix J regulations, which allowed engines of up to seven liters, Ford used a 427 cid V-8 engine that was developed from NASCAR engines of the period. This powerplant provided reliable and robust performance that was more than equal to the competition, and the Mk IV reportedly was capable of 215 mph flat out.
The first outing for the Mk IV was the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans, where after an action-packed day and night, chassis J-5, driven by Dan Gurney and A.J. Foyt, took the checkered flag in victory for Ford. By 1968, the FIA had again changed its regulations, limiting the engine size of endurance racers to five liters, thus rendering the Mk IV obsolete.
Just 12 Mk IV chassis were built in period, including the one offered here, chassis J-12. Documented by the Shelby American Registry as one of two spare chassis built for the Le Mans effort, this car was purchased from Ford as an unnumbered, bare tub by Harry T. Heinl of Miami Lakes, Florida, around 1970. According to the Shelby Registry, Heinl bought Mk IV examples J-4 and J-7, as well as the GT40 P/1015, at the same time. In 1977, the tub was purchased by Brian Angliss, owner of England’s Autokraft Ltd. and later owner of AC Cars Ltd., the successor to the firm that built bodies for the original Shelby Cobra and other models.
Mr. Angliss, who had previously purchased the other spare Mk IV tub directly from Ford – along with many spare parts from the factory Le Mans effort – sold this car, with a full kit of necessary parts, to Rod Leach of Hertfordshire, England. It was decided which of the previously unnumbered cars would receive the J-11 and J-12 monikers, and this car was numbered J-12. A single set of original bodywork existed for the two spare tubs, of which an original nose was supplied to J-12, while the tail was reproduced out of aluminum, with the inverse arrangement supplied to J-11.
Mr. Leach contracted with Mr. Angliss to build J-12 using the period spare parts that Mr. Angliss had accumulated, and both men traveled to the US to view and photograph original Mk IV examples to ensure the accuracy of the subsequent restoration. Karl Ludvigsen and Bob Lutz were contacted about the project, and responded positively on behalf of Ford of Europe with letters that accompany the car.
A correct 427 Ford engine, with rare tunnel port heads, was fitted with wet sump lubrication, though a dry sump system was later sourced and accompanies the Mk IV at auction. A correct, new-in-the-crate T-44 transaxle was found in England in 1984, and the project was finally finished in 1987. Brian Wingfield, a GT40 technical expert, drove a substantial number of shakedown laps at the Boreham, UK, track, and then J-12 completed demonstration laps at the 1987 24 Hours of Le Mans to commemorate the model’s victory there 20 years earlier.
In 1989, Rod Leach received additional corroboration of J-12’s identity as the last of the Mk IV tubs built, in the form of a letter to Bill Jacobs (then owner of J-11) from Nick Hartman, owner of Kar Kraft. This was acknowledged by GT40 authority Ronnie Spain and the SAAC (Shelby American Automobile Club), and their texts include this information.
Mr. Leach spent the remainder of his time with J-12 displaying the car at events such as the British Grand Prix and the Donington and Silverstone Historic Festivals. The car was on the cover of Ford’s official motor sports catalogue in 1988, and a comprehensive article on the Mk IV, featuring J-12, was published in the August 1993 issue of Classic and Sportscar. The author wrote: “Dear God Almighty! Give it a tentative shove on the throttle at a mere 2,000 rpm or so, and the scenery in front of you does what happens to the screen in the starship Enterprise when Captain Kirk says ‘Warp speed 10, Mr. Sulu.’” With an estimated 525 hp on tap and a weight in the range of 2,000 lbs., this is a serious performance machine.
Chassis J-12 was sold by Mr. Leach to the consignor on August 12, 1994. As part of a significant collection of sports and racing cars, the Mk IV has received the utmost care from the owner’s in-house staff for the last 24 years. Significantly, in 2015, J-12 received an FIA Historic Technical Passport, which ensures that this GT40 is of proper period technical specifications to be eligible for FIA-sanctioned historic motor sports events. Although not raced by its current caretaker, J-12 is exceptionally intriguing for its potential to run at the events for which it is eligible, including Le Mans Classic.
While J-12’s assembly was completed after Ford’s original racing efforts, it is a comprehensively documented Mk IV, the ultimate iteration of the famed Ford GT40 Le Mans-winning class of international race cars. Cherished by just four owners since 1967, this GT40 Mk IV presents an exceedingly rare opportunity, as all other authentic examples of the model reside either with Ford Motor Company or in major collections. Fabulously presented and ready to stun even the most ardent of observers, this amazing GT40 Mk IV welcomes your closest inspection and demands your attention.