Story and Photography by Chris Colten

By this point in time, many auto enthusiasts have seen the 2019 Blockbuster, Ford vs. Ferrari. The film depicts the events leading up to Ford Motor Company campaigning unprecedented racecars on the international stage. The movie was highly focused on the development of the legendary GT-40, a mid-engined monster born out of spite and a desire to beat Enzo Ferrari on their home turf.

Numerous variants were produced between 1964 and 1969, with a total production run of 105 cars. Among them was a Mk1 with the designation of P/1015 – built in 1965 with the intention of winning the 24 Hours of LeMans. A grueling endurance race which ran for an entire day. The chassis was fitted with a Ford 427 producing a healthy 485 horsepower, delivered to the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox.

The light blue and red paint which adorned the #1 car served both aesthetic and practical roles. The red paint which wraps around the headlights is intended to be reflective and distinguishes the car from others in the pack. As this was in the days before transponders, all lap timing was done by hand and it was imperative for the cars to be seen.

Small lamps were used all over the exterior to illuminate the car number to ensure legibility throughout the dark hours of the event. Opening the roofed doors reveals a spartan cockpit with seats that are fixed in place. The wide sills are, terrifyingly enough, the fuel tanks. Despite the right hand drive orientation, the shifter still remains at the right hand of the driver. Individually hand labeled toggle switches sprawl across the dashboard, an exposed fuse panel on the passenger side allows for easy diagnosis of potential electrical faults, and a string of gauges providereadouts on vital information – with the tachometer being the most prominent.

This particular GT-40 only competed in four events. The car scored its first victory at Daytona, piloted by Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby. Ken would go on to pilot the same car at LeMans, accompanied by Denny Hulme. They took second place, but as seen in the film and backed by actual events, this lower tier of the podium was questionable given the performance of the team. The 1966 LeMans was the last time P/1015 would finish an event, as in the subsequent year it DNF’d twice and was put into retirement.


The #1 GT-40 P/1015 is now nestled away within the walls of the Shelby American Collection, a fantastic space filled with historic racecars. Regardless of brand affiliation, it’s well worth the visit to see some truly incredible cars.

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Initially published in Issue 5 of SHIFT Colorado Magazine on September 8, 2023.