A Legendary GT40 Replica - Best of Sacramento
Carroll Shelby would definitely approve
The Ford GT40 is one of the most iconic race cars in history. The GT40 was created as a result of Ford’s efforts to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The car went on to defeat Ferrari’s winning streak in 1966 which was also the first overall win for an American car company.
Finding a Ford GT40 for sale is not only a rare feat but also an expensive one. To give you an idea of just how expensive these unobtanium cars can go for, one of the eight Mark II examples built sold in 2018 for $9,795,000.
Image courtesy of MikeyWerks
As with many of us growing up, Ken Montes wanted a Ford GT40 since he was a kid, not knowing they cost millions of dollars. So what’s the next best thing? A faithful replica designed to be an excellent alternative to the unicorn that is a real GT40. On a faithful day in 2016, Ken did just that and bought this replica made by GTD from a local broker.
Quick history lesson; GTD was short for GT Developments, an English company that built Ford GT40 replicas before they went out of business. Back in 2002, a rolling chassis cost £8,950 ($11,945) while “turn key cars” were available starting at £35,000 ($46,712). One such example built by GTD sold for $70,000 at an RM Sotheby's auction this year and can even go past the $100,000 mark.
Now, this specific GTD GT40 (chassis number GTD40#21090) is special for two reasons: one, it was featured on Discovery Channel’s “King of the Road” documentary about Carroll Shelby, and two, it has a 500 horsepower, stroked 347 small block Ford V8 built by racing engine builder Arron Johnson.
Of course, the car wasn’t perfect, no project car is. The paint wasn’t the best, the suspension wasn’t up to Ken’s standard and he also had to fix the dashboard and a lot of the wiring. While the car was apart, he also put in an updated Wilwood brake system and added some carbon fiber panels that he made himself in his shop. The front end also got a custom-made carbon fiber splitter, the whole car was lowered by around three inches, and the shocks were entirely rebuilt among other mods to make the GT40 ride and feel the way a proper racecar should.
For those of you who like details, the transaxle is a modified UN1 with a GTO Engineering one-piece solid shaft. The transmission also received some close-ratio gears, a Quaife Engineering LSD, and a custom-made clutch disc.
Having seen and heard the car myself, it’s clear that Ken appreciates it for the heritage it holds. It is an incredible, spotless example of the technological wonder that the GT40 was 60 years ago. The modern modifications Ken made allow it to be safer and reliable while preserving its vintage racecar soul. The whole car shines like it just rolled off the factory line and sounds like it’s ready to tear up the track at Le Mans once again.
And tear up the track it might. Sometime in the future, Ken wants to fabricate a roll cage for the car and race it with every opportunity he gets. Seeing a GT40 at a vintage racing event is one of those “time machine” moments that makes you feel like you’re witnessing a moment in history being replayed before your very eyes.
That’s the joy of replicas and kit cars like Ken’s. They are soulful replicas of Shelby’s legend that allow petrolheads to witness a piece of history that is as important as the GT40 in person. Owning and driving such an example helps preserve a part of that history and ensures that future generations do not forget the achievements of our predecessors.
“People should take these kinds of cars more seriously and more to heart,” Ken told me. ”They should try to teach the next generation how to build things properly and enjoy the hell out of cars.” Amen to that.
Huge thank you to Ken for letting me into his garage to witness this absolute masterpiece. Be sure to check out his Instagram @creative_ken_m for more pictures of the beast and other excellent cars as well.
If you have the opportunity to listen to the intimating roar of a GT40, whether real or replica, I urge you to do so. It’s an experience that will change your life for the better.