The Silverstone Classic Sale 2017

Back to lot listing

1989 Safir GT40 Mark V Continuation

Lot No.: 421

Registration: UYU 569F
Chassis Number: GT40-P-1123 / BB34HC38588
Engine Number: ME441
Number of cylinders: 8
CC: 5252
Year of Manufacture: 1989
Estimate (£): 170,000 - 220,000
(+buyer’s premium of 15% including VAT @ 20%)

In the aftermath of the Ford GT40's legendary success at Le Mans and worldwide, and Ford's self-indulgent glossy advertising campaign marketing the handful of 40"-high road cars that they had built to satisfy the requirements of the rule-makers in international motorsport, it's no surprise that the GT40 quickly donned the mantle of one of the world's greatest ever classic sports cars. Then, as now, there was a desire amongst rising generations to own a GT40 (or something that looked just like it), leading to an increased demand for unmolested originals and the start of a replica-building industry that continues to this day.

One enthusiast on the lookout for the genuine article at that time was Peter Thorp of Safir Engineering, whose frustration at not being able to find one (original race cars had disappeared into private collections and owners of the road cars were loathed to part with them) led him to a meeting with John Willment. Willment retained a large stock of GT40 spares, tools, jigs and original plans, while Thorp's company, Safir, were experienced constructors of Formula Three single-seaters. The discussions of two much motivated 'petrolheads could have only one outcome, resources would be pooled and production re-started.

"Negotiations with Ford in Dearborn led to an agreement that further examples could be built, with Safir continuing the run of chassis numbers from the point of completion, but allowing for a further three 'original' chassis to be completed and registered, since Willment had always intended to, one day, finalise the GT40 build programme by finally constructing the three chassis and boxes of parts he still held in storage. As the final chassis had been 'GTP/1086', he retained '1087', '1088' and '1089'. The first Safir chassis would, therefore, be '1090'." - Trevor Legate, Ford GT40, Production & Racing History. 

'Mark V' was chosen to designate the mildly updated model, the monocoque chassis of which was redesigned to enable fabricated construction (the originals had used pressed panels). Modern technology in the form of zinc-chromate corrosion proofing ensured a longer life than the original design had enjoyed and a superior and less leak-prone fuel tank was adopted. Tennant Panels supplied the roof structure, the rest of the chassis being completed by Safir with the lightweight body panels fitted. Ex-JW Engineering employees were used wherever possible.

The first Safir GT40 was completed in 1980, with a further 39 examples following over the course of the next 15 years, five of which were completed to 7-litre 'Mark II' specification. Cars could be supplied engine-less or with, usually, a 5.3-litre Ford V8 installed. Maximum power depended largely on the choice of induction - Holley or Weber - outputs ranging from 400 to 460bhp. Although Safir received no financial assistance from Ford, the latter sanctioned, and generally approved of, the Mark V project and assisted with obtaining certification for road use. Between them, JW Engineering, Safir and Ford agreed that these 'continuation' cars would be called 'GT40 Mark V Powered by Ford', thus minimising Ford Motor Company's potential liability. Safir later obtained the 'GT40' trademark.

This, very special right-hand drive, GT40 Mark V has covered just over 7,800 miles since leaving the Safir workshop in 1989. Two owners have enjoyed the car and the second (and current owner) has owned it since 1995  but has now reached the age of 70 and the time has, therefore, come to sell his much-loved possession. Whilst in conversations with Peter Thorpe about the car in 1995, our vendor made the valid point that the cockpit could get very hot in its current format. Peter Thorpe therefore designed and made new doors for our vendor with removable roof panels which helped the heat issues, ensured the driver could enjoy the impressive sound of the potent Mathwall 5.3 V8 along with offering more space for the taller driver. The original doors are included as part of the sale.

Serviced and MOT'd every year since 1997 (with additional service records prior to this period), there is a comprehensive history file with the car detailing all the work carried out over the years, and corroborating the 7,800 miles indicated. There is also another file detailing more of the history of these rare cars, with original sales brochures and magazine articles, along with correspondence between the two owners and interested parties in the car over the years. Reading these interesting files really gives you the impression that this car has enjoyed all the love and attention it deserves and the condition of the car certainly backs this up. This is an honest car, presented in original condition, the red paintwork gleams, and the looks are a joy to behold, certainly iconic, and in some people's eyes, a candidate for the Eighth Wonder of the World 

Coming to auction with a fresh service and MOT, carried out at 'SVP Motorsport' in May of this year, this is a very special car that offers an interesting provenance and would be a very worthy addition to any serious collection. Just to reiterate the perspective here, this is not a GT40 Replica, Recreation, Homage or Appreciation. It is a GT 40 Continuation, put together by men who worked on the early race cars, with the correct Chassis number, but with an Eight Million Dollar discount!