Legendary American racing driver Bob Bondurant’s name will be forever linked with the Ford GT40, a car he drove at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965, helping the team win the International Championship for GT Manufacturers.
The car you see here isn’t an original GT40, it’s a replica built by ERA GT for Bondurant in the same specification and livery of the car he drove at Daytona in 1965. Bondurant’s final race in this car was in 2012 at the Auto Club Raceway Pomona, unsurprisingly he’s said to have won despite being 79 years old.
Fast Facts – Bob Bondurant’s ERA GT
- This is an ERA GT that was built for Bob Bondurant, it was driven by the famed American racing driver a number of times and kept in his private collection.
- Though there have been many replicas of the Ford GT40 made over the years, none have been superior to the ERA GT. It’s a car that was developed to be indistinguishable from the original, despite the fact that it has a stronger chassis, a more heavy duty body, and even optional air-conditioning.
- This particular ERA GT is finished to the specification of the car driven by Bondurant in the 1965 Daytona Continental. This was an important race for the GT40 as it was the model’s first international victory, with GT40s finishing 1st and 3rd.
- ERA GTs often sell for six figure sums when they do come up for sale, such is the esteem in which they are held. This one is likely to attract plenty of additional attention thanks to its influential former owner.
Bob Bondurant was one of the most successful American racing drivers of his era, he also coached a slew of celebrities in the finer points of race car driving including James Garner, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Tim Allen, Tom Cruise, and Nicolas Cage.
Bondurant began his racing career as many did in the United States, riding an American built motorcycle around an oval track. By the mid-1950s he was racing on four wheels in a British Morgan before switching to a Corvette and winning the West Coast “B” Production Championship, taking victory in 18 out of 20 races.
Within a few years Bondurant had become one of the most promising drivers on the West Coast, between 1961 and 1963, he won 30 out of 32 races driving Corvettes for Santa Barbara Chevrolet dealer Shelly Washburn.
Racing For Carroll Shelby
This as around the time he caught the attention of Carroll Shelby, who was looking to hire the best drivers he could find for his new Ford Cobra team. Shelby’s faith in Bondurant was quickly justified as he won his first race at the Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado.
Over the next few years Bondurant would travel around the world, racing in Europe and the United States, competing in Formula 1, the Targa Florio, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Spa, the Nurburgring, and helping win the 1965 FIA Manufacturers’ World Championship for Shelby.
In 1966 his life would forever change the he was hired to serve as a technical consultant and driver trainer for the John Frankenheimer film Grand Prix. He trained the film’s lead actor, James Garner, to drive Formula cars in the race sequences.
Bondurant enjoyed this experience and it led to him starting the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving, over the years that followed he would train a slew of other celebrities, some of whom went on to become championship-winning racing drivers in their own right.
This racing school is still going strong today and you can enroll for training here.
Bob Bondurant’s ERA GT
This car become one of Bondurant’s most prized possessions after it was bought for him as a Christmas gift by his wife, you can read the story of this below:
“Bob Bondurant’s wife Pat searched for months and found her husband the best GT40 replica money could buy, a right-hand drive ERA GT40, almost identical to the GT40s he raced for Carroll Shelby back in the 1960s.”
“Bob rubbed his eyes in disbelief when the transporter dropped this car off in the Bondurant’s driveway on Christmas morning. He was finally reunited with his elusive GT40, and wow, did he have fun tracking this car for the next eight years!”
“Bob tracked this car at a Shelby reunion on the Fontana Raceway. Still, more significantly, he won his last race in this very car at Pomona Raceway at the age of 79 and frequently tracked the car at his world-famous Bob Bondurant School of High Performance driving track.” – Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving
The ERA GT uses a bespoke chassis closely based on the design of the original except it’s made from thicker gauge stainless steel to protect it against rusting. The original was made from a lighter gauge mild steel.
The body is made from fiberglass, just like the Ford GT40s, however it’s a slightly thicker lay up that was developed to stand the test of time, with no warping or spider webbing/stress cracking.
Power is provided by a period-correct The 289 cubic inch Ford V8 mated to a ZF five-speed manual transaxle, and as you would expect suspension is independent all around with disc brakes front and back.
Bondurant’s ERA GT40 is now being offered for sale on Bring A Trailer, it has just ~7,000 miles on the odometer and it’s being sold out of Chandler, Arizona. If you’d like to read more about it or cast a bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of Bring A Trailer
Ben has had his work featured on CNN, Popular Mechanics, Smithsonian Magazine, Road & Track Magazine, the official Pinterest blog, the official eBay Motors blog, BuzzFeed, and many more.
Silodrome was founded by Ben back in 2010, in the years since the site has grown to become a world leader in the alternative and vintage motoring sector, with millions of readers around the world and many hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.