Lightning has . After a spirited round of bidding, the 1968 Ford GT40 Gulf/Mirage lightweight race car has sold for a staggering $11 million at auction in Monterey. The sale of lot #139 during RM Auctions event on Friday night is now the world record holder for the highest price ever paid for an American automobile at auction.
Used extensively as the camera car in the 1971 film Le Mans, this GT40 can thank Steve McQueen for significantly increasing its value. However, back when it was still Mirage M.10003, it nabbed the honor of first overall win for a race car wearing the powder blue and marigold Gulf livery at Spa in 1967 — with driving by legendary endurance racer Jacky Ickx and Dick Thompson. Due to FIA regulation changes in 1968, it was back in the shop of J.W.A. in England where it was remade into GT40 chassis number P/1074. The race car then competed throughout 1968 at Daytona, Sebring, Monza, set a lap record of 3 minute 35.4-seconds during the Le Mans trials, finished in sixth place on the Nürburgring, and came in second at Watkins Glen.
What helped set the stage for this record breaking bid? Last year RM auctioned off Steve McQueen's personal for $1,375,000, bringing in $25,000 more than the absolute top shelf estimate of $1,350,000. That's also about 1150% more than a 1970 911 S would sell for that did not have such a sought after provenance and even more notable when you consider that it cost $8,338.61 when new. No doubt the fact that it was delivered to McQueen on the set of Le Mans and used during the films epic 3 minutes and 30 second opener before finding its way into his home garage helped.