The sight of the first GT40 prototype, ‘GT/101’, circulating at Goodwood is something that would have been impossible as recently as a year ago. The first two GT40 prototypes – the aforementioned GT/101 and GT/102 – were both destroyed at a Le Mans practice session in 1964, just weeks after their debut at the New York Auto Show.
What we’re looking at here is a faithful reproduction of that very first GT40, created over the last two years by Gelscoe Motorsport. The idea was hatched with owner Claude Nahum at Spa in 2013 and, once the project (almost immediately) got the green light, they spent a year building the engine alone.
Unlike the V8 in later GT40s, GT/101 had a Falcon derived engine, modified in that was made from all aluminium. It had further bespoke details, such as a side-mounted distributor, which have all been recreated. During our interview with Claude, his mechanic was pre-warming the engine with a heater and pump before firing it up. That usually takes around an hour – or even longer when a photographer wants to lift the engine cover, releasing precious heat, to poke his lens in!
The car made its first appearance at the Le Mans 24 Hours earlier this year, but Claude admits that it is at Revival where he was able to drive it properly for the first time. ‘It wasn’t set up properly at Le Mans, but we’ve had it on the rolling road since,’ he says. On Friday it took to the track as part in the Bruce McLaren Tribute demonstration laps, which featured cars as diverse as the Aston Martin Project 212 and a Mini van.
The car’s busy schedule continues, with an appointment at Amelia Island after Revival. It will then return to Switzerland to be with the rest of Claud’s collection, which includes two original GT40s.
Photography: Pete Summers