Santa Monica, CA — Seven historic motorsports competition cars — representing the best of the best from Indy, Trans Am and endurance racing — are among the early highlights for Gooding & Company’s Aug. 13-14 Pebble Beach auction.
Since the cars feature some of the most famous liveries in motorsport, and have important connections to some of the top venues, teams and drivers of the era — including Mark Donohue, Jackie Stewart, Peter Gregg, Bobby Rahal, Danny Ongais, and Sir John Whitmore — we want to showcase them one at a time leading up to the sale.
In honor of the Le Mans race originally scheduled for June 13-14 (now rescheduled for Aug. 21-22), we’ll start with the Le Mans-connected 1966 Ford GT40 Alan Mann Lightweight.
In addition to establishing Ford as an endurance race champion, the GT40 also made names for three private teams that furthered its racing development. Along with red-white-and-blue teams Shelby American and Holman-Moody was Britain’s Alan Mann Racing, based in Byfleet, Surrey.
It’s a 1966 Ford GT40 Alan Mann Lightweight that’s coming to Gooding & Company’s Pebble Beach auction.
After Alan Mann Racing achieved success in touring car racing with the development of the Ford Cortina, Ford Motor Company specifically tasked them in late 1965 with developing an even more competitive version of the GT40. Having extensively tested an early Mk I GT40, Alan Mann knew how to reduce weight and make various adjustments to the chassis and suspension in order to achieve optimal improvements. Consequently, Alan Mann Racing commissioned Abbey Panels to produce five special GT40 tubs to a new, updated design. They also fabricated lightweight aluminum bodywork for them, reducing considerable weight from the standard fiberglass bodies.
The car coming to Gooding’s Pebble Beach auction, AM GT-1, is the first of just two aluminum-bodied GT40s ever built; the remaining three tubs ordered by Alan Mann were incorporated into the Mk II program. An exceptionally rare machine, AM GT-1 was completed in early 1966, finished in the iconic red-and-gold Alan Mann Racing livery, and equipped with a highly-tuned 289 V-8 engine, five-speed ZF transaxle, Halibrand knock-off wheels, and more than 100 updates over the standard Mk I competition car.
AM GT-1 showed immediate promise in its racing debut at the 1966 12 Hours of Sebring, where it was driven by Sir John Whitmore and Frank Gardner and qualified in 7th position, running well before it was forced to retire with clutch problems. It next appeared at the Le Mans Test in April 1966, where it was the fourth fastest car behind Ford’s experimental J-Car, a Mk II GT40, and sister car AM GT-2. Ultimately, Ford decided to retire the small-block powered Alan Mann Lightweights and only entered its seven-litre Mk IIs at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. So, AM GT-1 was sold to Holman-Moody and then passed through the hands of several private owners.
The current consignor acquired AM GT-1 in 1982 after it had been damaged in a road accident, and set about to restore the car. The project was entrusted to famed GT40 expert Bob Ash of Georgia, who restored the car to exacting standards over a period of nearly 15 years.
Today, the car appears just as it did at the 1966 Le Mans Test, wearing its classic Alan Mann Racing colors and race number 16. Its exceptional restoration, completed in 2019, has since been awarded with a Second in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a near perfect score at the Muscle Car and Corvette Nationals, and a special Le Mans award in a competition judged by the Shelby American Automobile Club.
Will the GT40 race again? It’s eligible for numerous historic racing events, but with a pre-sale estimate of $7 million to $9 million, putting it back on a track might require the nerves of a 1966 Ford v Ferrari encounter.
Check out the video from Gooding for more details about the car and its provenance.