There are very few car owners in the world that can claim they have a piece of heritage that is a precursor to the first LeMans victory of an American brand over the iconic Ferrari racecar. Japanese businessman Minoru Aratani is part of a very small club that now owns one of the original Production GT40 MKI’s built by Ford Advanced Vehicles, Ltd., Great Britain in the 1960s — and his vehicle will make its debut at the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance, October 8-9, at Château Èlan Winery & Resort in Braselton, Ga.., before heading off to its new homeland in Japan. Valued at $4 million, after a complete 100-point restoration, GT40P/1054 is one of 31 road coupes and 48 race coupes to grace the original UK program, and is one of the most original examples of the less than ten GT40 MKI road coupes that remain in the United States.
According to Harry Krix, Chairman for the Atlanta Concours d’Elegance, it isn’t often a vehicle with such a distinct inspiration for racing provenance makes its way onto the Concours show field, and he’s thrilled that Mr. Aratani has chosen his vehicle’s U.S. debut at the inaugural Atlanta event.
“When Ford’s Advanced Vehicle Team created the GT40 they had one goal in mind – beat Ferrari and win LeMans!” said Krix. And in fact, the GT40 in race trim went on to win the 24 hours of LeMans four consecutive times, from 1966 to 1969, including a 1-2-3 sweep in 1966. “Mr. Aratani holds the keys to a very special piece of history. The complete redeux he commissioned for his road-going version amplifies the essence and emotion of the victorious Ford GT40 race coupe that made history 50 years ago.”
Equipped with the same engine as the race coupe, GT40P/1054 is a right-hand drive machine and boasts a high performance 289 cubic inch Ford engine, Weber carbs, ZF 5-speed transaxle, 180-degree exhaust system and Girling 4-wheel disc brakes.
Mr. Aratani is the third owner of the car in 50 years, and commissioned Racingicons.com of Ocala, Florida, to complete a full renewal of this landmark vehicle. The showing in Atlanta will be the first and only public viewing since its extensive three-year restorative process. Currently painted factory Pine Green, GT40P/1054 holds its original matching number engine and transaxle, fiberglass clips, Borrani wire wheels, 50-year-old Goodyear Bluestreak tires, Autolite spark plug wires and Irvin seatbelts.
Krix noted that the impressive GT40 is but one of a number of specialized vehicles that will be displayed at the Atlanta Concours, which happens to be the most recent competitive classic car show to join the ranks of the more than two dozen top Concours events throughout the United States. The Atlanta Concours is also the first to feature the Georgia-manufactured DeltaWing race cars and Panoz race and street cars among a field that will include more than 170 vehicle entrants, 40 sponsors and numerous vintage car collections and restoration programs. Panoz is the Premiere Sponsor for the Atlanta Concours, and pharmaceutical magnate and founder of Panoz Motor Sport Group, Don Panoz, will be the upcoming event’s honoree.
While about 80 percent of the entrant vehicles have won awards in prior shows, the addition of cars from significant personal collections in the Southeast may be a stronger point of differentiation in creating a truly memorable weekend. Substantial sightings are expected to include:
- Among numerous Barn Finds, a pre-war seven-passenger 1932 Packard Phaeton — one of the last to exist – as well as a 1967 Corvette coupe – found to have one owner, the original title, original keys, protect-o-plate, original manuals and a last known registration of 1973
- Several vintage cars from the Elliott Museum in Jensen Beach, Florida, including a 1914 Packard touring car and a 1920 Hudson, each owned by Italian opera singer Enrico Caruso (one of the most famous opera tenors in history)
Themed collections will play a large role within the Concours, including six historic Chevrolet vehicles belonging to Jim Collier, a 79-year-old native Georgian, whose 40-year collection began with and continues to be only Chevrolet, with vehicles ranging from a 1925 coupe to a 1972 Monte Carlo. Mr. Collier is one of the few African-American car collectors in the U.S. and has a remarkable assemblage of 30 Chevys currently residing at his storage facility. Throughout his lifetime he has owned a total of 60 cars of the ‘bowtie’ persuasion. For the Concours event, he’ll be displaying some of the rarest Chevy models to be found, including a ’32 Phaeton and a ’63 Corvette split window, as well as a ’59 Impala convertible (one of six ever made) and a true nut-and-bolt restoration that he personally completed. This Impala is an extremely rare factory 348 cubic inch, 320 horsepower version with a four-speed manual transmission. It is easily the best of its breed.
All weekend, attendees can shop the Merchant Walkway featuring automotive industry and lifestyle vendors, visit sponsor and exhibitor tents and test drive modern luxury vehicles in the Ride and Drive experiences. In addition, the event will include novice and expert tech sessions highlighting various aspects of vehicle ownership, heritage and restoration.
Tickets for the event are now on sale at atlantaconcours.org.