The name of legendary American racing driver Bob Bondurant will forever be linked to the Ford GT40, a car he drove in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1965, helping the team win the International GT Constructors’ Championship.
The car you see here is not an original GT40, it is a replica built by ERA GT for Bondurant to the same specification and livery as the car he drove at Daytona in 1965. Leaping in this car took place in 2012 at Auto Club Raceway Pomona, unsurprisingly he would have won despite being 79 years old.
Quick Facts – Bob Bondurant’s ERA GT
- This is an ERA GT which was built for Bob Bondurant, it was driven by the famous American racing driver on several occasions and kept in his private collection.
- Although there have been many Ford GT40 replicas 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 having a stronger chassis, stronger bodywork 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 win, with GT40s finishing 1st and 3rd.
- ERA GTs often sell for six-figure sums when they go on sale, such is the esteem in which they are held. This one is likely to get a lot of extra attention thanks to its influential former owner.
Bob Bondurant was one of the most successful American racing drivers of his time, he also coached a slew of celebrities in the intricacies of driving, including James Garner, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, Tim Allen, Tom Cruise and Nicolas Cage.
Bondurant began his racing career as many have in the United States, riding an American-built motorcycle around an oval track. In the mid-1950s he raced on four wheels in a British Morgan before switching to a Corvette and winning the West Coast “B” production championship, claiming victory in 18 of 20 races.
Within a few years Bondurant became one of the most promising drivers on the West Coast, between 1961 and 1963 he won 30 of 32 races driving Corvettes for Santa Barbara Chevrolet dealership Shelly Washburn.
Race for Carroll Shelby
That’s about when he caught the eye 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 vindicated as he won his first race at Continental Divide Raceway in Colorado.
Over the following years, Bondurant would travel the world, race in Europe and the United States, participate in Formula 1, the Targa Florio, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Spa, the Nurburgring and help win the Championship. 1965 FIA Constructors’ World Championship. Championship for Shelby.
In 1966 his life would change forever when he was hired to serve as a technical consultant and pilot trainer for John Frankenheimer’s film. Grand Prize. He trained the film’s lead actor, James Garner, to drive Formula cars in the racing sequences.
Bondurant appreciated this experience and it led him to create the Bob Bondurant School of High Performance Driving. In the years that followed, he trained a host of other celebrities, some of whom went on to become championship-winning race drivers in their own right.
This racing school is still going strong today and you can register for the training here.
Bob Bondurant’s ERA GT
This car became one of Bondurant’s most prized possessions after it was bought for him as a Christmas present by his wife, you can read the story below:
“Bob Bondurant’s wife, Pat, searched for months and found for her husband the best replica GT40 money could buy, a right-hand drive ERA GT40, almost identical to the GT40s he raced for Carroll Shelby in the 1960s.”
“Bob rubbed his eyes in disbelief when the transporter dropped this car off in Bondurant’s driveway on Christmas morning. He finally found his elusive GT40, and wow, did he have fun tracking this car for the next eight years!”
“Bob followed this car to a Shelby meeting at Fontana Raceway. More importantly, he last won his race in this same car at Pomona Raceway at the age of 79 and frequently followed the car on its famous Bob Bondurant School of High Performance driving track. – Bob Bondurant High Performance Driving School
The ERA GT uses a bespoke chassis closely based on the design of the original, except it’s made from heavier gauge stainless steel to protect it from rust. The original was made from a lighter gauge mild steel.
The body is fiberglass, just like the Ford GT40s, but it is a slightly thicker layer that has been developed to stand the test of time without warping, cobwebbing or stress cracking .
Power is provided by a period-correct Ford 289-cubic-inch V8 mated to a ZF five-speed manual transaxle, and as you’d expect, the suspension is independent all around with disc brakes on the inside. front and back.
Bondurant’s ERA GT40 is now offered for sale on Bring A Trailer, it only has around 7,000 miles on the odometer and it is sold in Chandler, Arizona. If you want to know more or start an auction you can visit the list here.
Images courtesy of Bring A Trailer
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