Ever since historic racer Gavin Henderson acquired his Ford GT40 it’s been a regular at September’s Revival meeting. Somewhat unusually for a GT40 though it didn’t race in period, but it could be for this very reason that its story today is a unique one, and that it might be the most original GT40 in existence.
‘This car is chassis number 1055 and we bought it in 2010,’ says Gavin’s son Rory; also a historic racing driver and who gets to race the GT40 on occasion. ‘It didn’t race in-period, but it was supposedly taken to Le Mans in 1966 as a back-up car.’
Not long after this, the Ford family themselves (one assumes, in order to have a permanent reminder of their famous success over Ferrari) took ownership of the car and it became the personal property of Edsel Ford himself. It was to stay with the Fords for the next 25 years.
‘Once the car was in the UK we sent it over to Simon Blake at Historic Automobiles (whose workshop we visited last year) who carried out a sympathetic renovation and brought the car up to full FIA specification.’
Despite being one of the most original GT40s around, the Hendersons have been keen to use it as it was intended. ‘It’s been to the Revival for the past four years and we do the Spa Six-Hour race with it as well.’ Rory enthuses.
Asked what it is like behind the wheel, he instantly replies: ‘It’s a delight to drive. It feels quite heavy and the gearbox is a tad fragile – so you have to be gentle with the changes – but it’s wonderful. You can see why they were so competitive at Le Mans. You sit very low in the thing and towards the middle, which gives you a great view peering over those wheel arches!’
At Spa of course the car is capable of reaching speeds approaching those the GT40s hit at Le Mans, which must be a terrific experience. ‘The steering gets a bit light at high speed,’ Rory confesses. ‘Mind you, that is at about 175mph!’
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Photography: Antony Fraser