Posted 25 March 2014 - 13:28
This is owner Andrew Komosa's story as told to GT40s.com........
RECONSTRUCTING A LEGEND-The GT40 bug hit me about thirty years ago, while reading an old magazine road test, Autocar I believe. I can vividly recall being thrilled by a white GT40 being driven in excess of 150 mph on some English dual carriageway in the 1960s and how the test driver sped passed a waiting Police car, only laughing to himself how they couldn’t ever catch him; how times have changed!
Following a succession of replica GT40s, I realised that nothing but an original would satisfy my craving, so I began looking around for a suitable car. It soon became apparent that even those cars built using Tennant panels during the 1990s by Brian Wingfield, but wearing original GT40 VINs were not within my reach. One of these cars was offered to me for “an offer North of $3.5 million”!
A deal with a fellow club member sadly fell through, so I was left looking at a possible Mirage, Gox, Gelsco or Holman tub. None of these options were really open to me because it looked as if they’d take too long to construct or were outside of my budget. I can’t recall how I came across Classic Car Developments in New Zealand, but a deal was struck in November 2009. This had the added benefit that they had built a number of tubs or panels for original cars when their chassis’s were either rusted through or crash damaged. Hence, my tub does include a number of renovated panels from original cars which have, themselves, undergone restoration.
I am not certain whether this is down to good planning or pure coincidence, but the chassis number of my car is “P/1042” and declared on the official records as “manufactured 1966”. For legal reasons, I must differentiate between my car and “GT40P/1042”, although both cars were painted yellow around 2000 and might have some Franco Sbarro connection. I can say nothing more, other than I can prove provenance dating back to 1994 when P/1042 was imported into the UK. Before this, it appears Jean Blaton owned the car, as he wished to find his old GT40 which he previously enjoyed in the 1960s i.e. GT40P/1041, but as he couldn’t locate it, the next best thing was 1042. I do not know how true that story is however.
Interestingly, “word on the street” reports that GT40 P/1042 was rebuilt following the fire which consumed it back in 1968/69 and ran through various owners being painted blue, yellow then more lately returned to the striking red & white livery of the Scudery Filipinetti team, taking part in historic races from the mid 1980s. As stated, one such owner was the said Jean Blaton, a Belgium racing driver, who, as I have stated above, owned GT40P/1042 in the early 1990s and who painted it Belgium racing yellow.
However, the story goes on- I needed a shell to clothe my partly period original/ mostly remanufactured monocoque chassis in, when Frank Catt of Wealdon Engineering said he knew where an original shell was for sale. This was swiftly purchased, and my car was, hence, reconstructed using the fibreglass body shell off GT40 P/1001, the 1965 New York Motor Salon and World’s Fair show car, it being one of the most campaigned GT40s, taking part in no less than 29 races between 1966 and 1969.
In June 1966 the car took part in the 24 hours of Le Mans, being driven by Jacky Ickx & Jochen Neerpasch. Numbered car “60”, resplendent in the white with red & black stripes of the Essex Wyer company, it failed to complete the race, grinding to a halt in the early hours of Sunday morning, but as all GT40 aficionados will recall, Ford GT40s took the most historic of wins that year, placing 1st, 2nd & 3rd overall, in a well documented photo finish.
In August 1966 the car, numbered “109”, driven by Alan Rees, failed to finish at Brands Hatch, but managed a creditable 10th place at Zeltweg, driven by Innes Ireland & Mike Spence. However, it failed again to finish its next couple of races at Kyalami, with David Hobbs & Mike Spence and at Killarney, with David Hobbs & Mike Hailwood, during the month of November. The car ended the 1966 season out in South Africa being campaigned in the Springbox series, now painted white with green stripes, it recorded the following results; Kumalo, driven by Hobbs finishing 1st, Kumalo, driven by Hailwood finishing 1st, Lourenco Marques, driven by Hobbs finishing 2nd, Pietermaritzburg, driven by Hobbs & Hailwood, again finishing 1st, thus ending 1966 with a string of successes under its belt.
Over the next three years the car saw action at Snetterton, Silverstone, Crystal Palace, Oulton Park, Brands Hatch, Croft, Zeltweg, Monza, Zandvoort, Nuerburgring, Spa, Vila Real, Hockenheim, and its final event in August 1969 at Thruxton, where Matt Daghorn steered it into 7th place, a worthy conclusion to this GT40s racing career.
Thus, during 1966 to 1969, the car found itself being raced by a number of well known personalities such as; Jacky Ickx, Jochan Nerpasche, Allan Rees, Innes Ireland, Mike Spence, Mike Hailwood, David Hobbs, Denis Hulme, Frank Gardner, Charles Lucas, Roy Pike, John Raeburn, Martin Shenken, Andrew Cox, Ian Williams, Nicholas Granville-Smith and the aforesaid Matt Daghorn.
I have a series of monochrome photographs taken by a friend of the then owner, Terry Smith of Tunbridge Wells who, along with the previous secretary of the GT40 Enthusiasts Club, David Scaif, drove 1001 to Maidstone Police Station for road registration in 1970. Please note the wide rear grill which first appeared on the car in 1967. The reason for this unusual modification is unknown, but at least it is a significant land mark to look out for in period photographs. The other slightly less unusual detail is the fact this is a “cross over” car, meaning that while it has two fuel tanks, they are both interconnected, resulting in only one, offside, fuel filler; a Le Mans 1966 modification I believe.
A point of interest, is that as GT40P/1000 was destroyed in Bob MacLean’s fatal accident, when his Comstock-sponsored GT40 exploded in a fiery crash during the 1966 race at Sebring in Florida, means that the bodywork off 1001 is probably the oldest surviving gT40 shell around today.
My car, VIN “P/1042” and registered “JFL 97D” was, hence, reconstructed using one of the most original and historic body shells available.
The photograph showing the rear clip being renovated illustrates the archaeology of paint layers reflecting the various race teams. It surprised me to think that paint was simply applied on top of other layers, thus entombing the history of the car until revealed in Lee Dawson’s workshop.
No period detail was overlooked, and the vast majority of parts haven’t only come from GT40s, but are, in themselves, over 45 years old; from the 1965 DS25/ZF-0 gearbox, 1965 289 cu ins HiPo-GT40 V8, single nostril panel from P/1020 (the ex-Le Mans museum car), original GT40 BRM magnesium wheels shod with Dunlop racing crossply tyres, to the minor items such as: period Fispa fuel regulator, Italian 48 IDA Webbers, FAV inlet Manifold, and even original-style, rapidly decaying magnesium suspension uprights.
As the reconstruction progressed, more and more original & period parts became available to me via suppliers and I soon found myself ditching reproduction parts, replacing them with somewhat tired originals, ones which had seen real “life”. An example of this is my radiator which came from a retired JW Automotive engineer. The radiator had been built by Serck Services of London back in the day. It needed repairing, so I had the modern reincarnation of the company, now called “Serck of Hayes, Middx” repair it, a nice touch with continuing provenance I feel.
One of the biggest coincidences happened during a conversation about my 1965 289 cu ins engine, which had come from Mathwall Engineering. The cylinder heads are genuine C6FE ones and came from GT40P/1079, but the short motor was unknown. That is before Stuart Mathieson checked his records, informing me that my engine had come from a yellow GT40 in the late 1980s. Only Jean Blaton’s 1042 for heaven’s sake!
Hence, my GT40 is a “mongrel” of not only original, but period parts coming from the following cars: GT40P/1001, 1002, 1005, 1009, 1020, 1026, 1032, 1042, 1045, 1079 and 1088. The hundreds of other parts come from unknown GT40s although perhaps, one day, each of them will reveal themselves!
As a caveat, my latest acquisition is an original bronze medal, a trophy won by Mike Salmon for coming 2nd overall in his GT40 during the 1967 Martini International Trophy race at Silverstone. In this race the shell of my GT40 took part, but failed to finish, whereas my steering wheel, off Salmon’s GT40P/1026, won the trophy!
This project began in November 2009 and is hoped to be completed by late Autumn 2013, ready for the Goodwood Festival of Speed and Le Mans Classic 2014, although it will still have to go through the FIA’s Historic Technical Passport inspection, in order to make sure it complies with 1966 homologation standards and be thus, eligible for the European classic sports racing series.
Readers can imagine how excited I’ll be when my wife, Debbie, and I, travel down to Southampton in order to collect my fully reconstructed 1966 Ford GT40 from the docks. I am not sure I will sleep a wink that night!
Andrew Komosa (June 2013).