The Real Ken Miles Ford GT40

Ford GT40 Race Car

The Petersen Automotive Museum is with Steve Volk, Executive Director at the Shelby American Museum in Boulder, CO who talks about the Ken Miles Ford GT40.

  • Horsepower: 485
  • Top speed: 210 (estimate)

In September 1965, two new MK I chassis, P/1015, and its sister car, P/1016, were flown from FAV in Slough, England, to Shelby American to be built up there as team cars for the 1966 Daytona race. The cars arrived in basic form and Shelby’s team added the 485-hp 427 engines and T44 4-speed transmissions especially designed and assembled by Kar Kraft.

They also installed the interior and exterior trim, front bodywork (constantly being modified to reduce front lift), and Halibrand race wheels. Adding a pair of brake cooling inlet ducts atop the rear deck, no doubt they also incorporated other tweaks derived from the 1965 experience, including the transmission and head gasket failures at Le Mans, where their best result had come from Daytona Coupe CSX2299, in eighth.

P/1015 would help put all that straight. Although it competed only four times and at just two tracks, the car scored a pair of extraordinarily significant results for Ford in 1966, winning at Daytona (Ken Miles/Lloyd Ruby) and finishing a legendary and contentious second at Le Mans (Ken Miles/Denis Hulme).

Ford GT40

Five MK IIs were entered for Daytona that year, including P/1015 by Shelby American for Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby, who had won the previous year in P/103. Painted white with blue stripes and a flat black nose panel, P/1015 seemed the team’s best hope, as it was blessed with number 98. Miles qualified it on the pole, at 1:57.8, ahead of Jo Bonnier in a Chaparral 2D.

When that Texas competitor and the fastest Ferraris succumbed during the first 24-hour edition of this race, Miles and Ruby repeated their 1965 win with little drama. Two other 427-powered GT40s came second (Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant/Tom Payne) and third (Walt Hansgen/Mark Donohue). Notably, P/1015 scored the first win for a 427-powered GT40.

Back in California, the car was fitted with a dry-sump 427 engine and tested by Ken Miles at Riverside for possible use at Sebring, but he and Ruby were assigned to the X-1 roadster version instead, and P/1015 was not entered.

It also sat out the Le Mans trials in April but was rebuilt — with stronger suspension mounts, better cockpit insulation, and improved fuel pump cooling to cure a tendency to vapor lock — for possible use by Ford’s British entrant, Alan Mann Racing.

A final shakedown test of P/1015 took place at Riverside in late May before its flight to Europe.

The car is on loan to the Shelby American Museum from the Miller Family Automobile Foundation.

Race History

1966 Race Season with Shelby American

Date: 2/6/1966
Track: Daytona
Place: 1st
Drivers: Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby

Date: 6/19/1966
Track: Le Mans
Place: 2nd
Drivers: Ken Miles and Denny Hulme

1967 Race Season with Ford/F.A.V.

Date: 5/2/1967
Track: Daytona
Place: DNF
Driver: Ronnie Bucknum and Frank Gardner

Date: 6/11/1967
Track: Le Mans
Place: DNF
Driver: Guy Ligier and Jo Schlesser