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ORGINAL 1969 HOT WHEELS MK IV RESTORED TO ’67 LE MANS WINNER

I know many collectors feel that cutting open a vintage Redline Hot Wheels for any reason is a form of blasphemy! I see it as a chance to restore a 47 year old casting into something that has more relevance for my collection. As a lifelong fan of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, few years bear the significance for an American based fan than the 1967 running of the French endurance classic.



Following the rumor that Enzo Ferrari was tired of having to build road cars in order to fund his racing program (his only real passion), Henry Ford II sent men to set down with the the Commendatore in 1963 and almost put the deal together. However, at the signing table, Ferrari had a last second change of heart and walked out on the room, citing that he simply could not endure the control Detroit would have over his destiny. Ford was ticked, and declared he would beat Ferrari at his own game. And with that began the legendary “Total Performance” era of Ford including the Ford / Ferrari “clash of the titans” that dominated the mid 60’s racing world.



While the first few years were not fruitful for Ford and the Eric Broadley Lola based GT40, by the time we reached the J Car based GT Mark IV, it was a different ball game. For the 1967 edition of Le Mans, Ford sent four MK IV’s to France with Holman Moody and Shelby America preparing 2 cars each. The 427c.i. monsters used their brute 550 horses to follow up on their madden win in the Mark II the previous year. What made this win so special was the fact that it was the first time an all American built, prepared and driven car had won the 24 hour enduro.

The Le Mans winning 1967 Ford MK IV (Chassis # J-5) Driven by Dan Gurney and AJ Foyt for Shelby America




Here is an excerpt from a wonderful article on the ’67 event from 95Customs.com

“Going into Le Mans, The team had to fabricate a roof bubble to accommodate the helmet of Dan Gurney, who stood more than 6’3" tall. The Gurney / Foyt team outright dominated Ferrari. In one famous incident which took place in the middle of the night, Gurney had already developed a 4-lap / 34 mile lead over the second-place Ferrari, so he geared back to preserve his car. Michael Parkes, driving the second Ferrari 330 P4, came up behind Gurney, and for several laps flashed his lights in Gurney's mirrors until Gurney simply pulled off into the grass at Arnage corner. Parkes stopped behind him, and the two race leaders sat there, in the dark, motionless, until Parkes finally realized his attempt to provoke Gurney wasn't going to work. After a few moments, he pulled around Gurney and resumed the race, with Gurney following shortly. With the cat-and-mouse game done, they both maintained their positions to the finish. The win remains the sole all-American victory at Le Mans - an American-built car, prepared by an American team, and driven by American drivers - AJ Foyt and Dan Gurney. They led all but the first 90 minutes of the race.”



Again, from the 95Customs.com web site…

“When Gurney walked onto the podium, he was handed the traditional magnum of champagne. He looked down and saw Ford CEO Henry Ford II, team owner Carroll Shelby, their wives, and several journalists who had predicted disaster for the high-profile duo of Gurney and Foyt. Many of the journalists had predicted the two drivers, who were heated competitors in the United States, would break their car trying to better one another. In that moment on the podium, Gurney shook the bottle and sprayed everyone nearby, thus creating the champagne-spraying tradition reenacted in victory celebrations around the world over ever since.”

THE CARS…. I had done a version of the #1 several years ago and it turned out OK, but the decals were far from correct. So when I noticed that IndyCals (www.indycals.net/decals) had released a new, correct version of the winning car’s decals I knew it was time to make another run at it.



I purchased a pair of original red enamel, USA cast Hot Wheels MK IV from eBay (casting #6257). These were not in bad shape so that made the transition fairly easy. The wheels came from the wonderful Auto World GT40 release from last year. As I mentioned, the decals on the winning red #1 are from IndyCals and the paint is “rattle can”. I think the decals deserve a better painted car but that’s as far as my skill level currently goes!
 

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Discussion Starter #2
THE YELLOW #2, CHASSIS #J6

This was the other Shelby prepared GT entered into the race and was driven by Bruce McLaren and Mark Donohue. The car sat on the poll and finished a strong 4th, just off the podium.



Let’s talk the #2 decals for a moment. These were part of my original decal sheet that I had used to build my earlier red version. These were printed by PATTOS PLACE and while the printing quality is very solid (as all his work is) the art work is pretty poor. Not to mention it’s simply incorrect! Look at the strips on the yellow car, they should be solid black, not white with back outlines! And the traditional Ford oval is also incorrect as it ran with a simply block script. But none the less, I had these in my box and had the extra casting in front of me and said what the heck. So I used the best casting of the two for the nicer #1 decals and the lesser of the body’s for the #2 version. I did remove the “Gurney” bubble as an easy nod to accuracy!





So now I have a nice matching pair of the Shelby America prepared MKIV’s as they ran in the 1967 24 Hours of Le Mans! I can also count these as part of my Mark Donohue and Dan Gurney collections as well. While my body prep is not as good as I should have liked (based on looking at these photos) they really do look better in hand! Overall, I am pretty happy with the cars and particularly the red #1.

Thanks for another long read! Hope you like the cars.
Ward

 

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mGreat work and research as usual. Good reading.
 

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Excellent history lesson and fantastic job on the replicas! Thanks so much for your contribution to the hobby...please keep the great work!
 

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As far as your skill level goes? I think that's pretty far! Awesome job on these pair.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks guys, your comments are much appreciated! I had never read the story of Dan refusing to be rattled by the second place Ferrari and pulling to the side. Very cool!
 
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