not me talking.
To start with, I don’t have a fat ass – no,
honest – and the “ass” I do have has not been
stuffed into anything like a thousand racing cars.
The words came from the, er, amply proportioned
David Piper. Folk
under about 30 will say “who?”, but those above
about 40 will know for sure.
Englishman David Piper is a driver of racing cars
– make that sports-racing cars – who’s been
competing since Methuselah was a nipper.
He has spent time as a works driver for both
Ferrari and Porsche, competed at Le Mans, and even now,
after some 50 years in the business, still drives a
pretty mean race.
So now we know who he is – what car
is he referring to?
A Ferrari? Nope.
A Porsche? Wrong
again. A Ford? Of
course, what took you so long?
The “Ford” is actually a
latter-day recreation of arguably the finest
sports-racer of all time: the GT40, naturally.
Yes, you’ve all heard about the Ford GT40.
You wouldn’t be checking out this site if you
biggest and, some would say, the best, version of the
car was the Mark II.
That was the one which had a 7-litre motor nailed
between the back wheels.
It was as heavy as a tank, and as difficult to
stop, but was as reliable as a train.
Oops, suddenly that’s not a very good
comparison any more, is it?
Anyway, you know what I mean.
Mark II production had ceased by the middle of
1966, and nobody ever actually thought it would restart.
Back in those far off days, two of Ford’s
official American race teams prepared and raced the Mark
were Shelby American, and Holman & Moody.
The former is well known, thanks to Carroll
Shelby’s other Ford involvement (eg, the Cobra), but
the name Holman & Moody is somewhat less well known
– unless you happen to be in to NASCAR racing, of
Holman & Moody’s race results with the Mark
II were never as sparkling as Shelby’s, but there was
a very good reason for that: Ford didn’t want them to
contribution to the race effort was to play second
fiddle to Shelby, and the H&M cars were expected to
cruise around just behind the Shelby machines, ready to
pick up the pieces if the Shelby team failed (which was
some people, notably the Shelby fans, may not agree with
that analysis, but there’s always two sides to every
argument, you guys.
Well, H&M eventually gave up big-time racing, and
the team kinda went away.
Except, one member of it wouldn’t let it die.
Lee Holman is the son of the co-founder, John
Holman, and he’d been part of the team in its heyday.
When, in the late ‘sixties, the team was
auctioning off its stocks of GT40 cars and spares, he
attempted to buy a car for himself.
“Attempted”, is the right word, for when
Holman senior realised Junior was bidding, the hammer
came down on Lee, and not on the car. "No biddin’, son, yuh
of the chance to own his own Mark II, Lee had to let the
Well, for a while, anyway.
Many years later, the idea came to him: if I can’t
buy one, I could build one – and then I could build
some more, and sell them!
He had all the team’s documentation relating to
the cars’ preparation and racing history, plus all the
plans needed to make a car that was indistinguishable
from the real thing.
What’s more, Holman & Moody, being official
Ford agents when dealing with the GT40, still had the
rights to build the car, and –important, this –
actually call it a GT40.
Back in Britain, production of GT40 chassis
resumed, with Tennant Panels producing brand new
authentic monocoque tubs from original drawings and
was all Lee needed.
He could buy new ready-made chassis, and use his
accumulated documentation, knowledge and facilities to
make REAL Mark IIs again.
And, oh boy, has he succeeded!
The 1993 Holman (the “& Moody”
has been dropped) Mark II is the nearest thing to an
original Mark II that you will ever find, period.
This is not just some small-block GT40 look-alike
made up skin deep to look like a Mark II; by
incorporating the scores of minor modifications that
transformed the standard GT40 into the Mark II, Lee’s
masterpiece can fool all of the people, all of the time.
Built in Charlotte, North Carolina, where the old
H&M company was based (and where they still work on
NASCAR engines), the cars are assembled by Jim Rose and
Jimmy Tucker, two of the original Ford race team crew
chiefs who worked on the cars in the ‘sixties.
The GT40’s normal 5-litre engine is replaced by
a muscular 7-litre dry-sump version, built up by Tucker,
who built the engine for the fastest Le Mans Mark II.
The 5-speed ZF gearbox gives way to a bulletproof Ford
T-44 transaxle (newly manufactured), and the fibreglass
bodywork comes from original Ford Mark II moulds.
buyer can have his car assembled to either IIA (1966) or
IIB (1967) specifications, and can, if he so wishes,
have the car in precisely the same detailed
configuration as any individual example of the original
race cars. An
additional benefit for the potential purchaser is that
because Holman & Moody made the cars all those years
ago, the new ones are considered to be legal for vintage
racing – so you can buy one and go racing straight
Now, they aren’t cheap.
Just how cheap they aren’t depends on
specification, but don’t expect much change out of
I know, it’s a lot of money, but let’s be honest
about this; the only ones of us likely to be in the
market in the first place are the lottery winners, and,
what the heck, suddenly six hundred K (dollars,
remember, not pounds) is nothing from out of a big win.
Go on, splash out, make Lee a happy man and buy
one of his cars. When
my lottery numbers come up (probably next week – I’m
sure it’s my turn by now) I’m going to place my
order right there and then.
By the way, if you do decide to buy one, please
let me know. I
think I deserve a commission after this.
But seriously though, these cars
really do deserve to sell.
Over the last thirty-some years I’ve seen maybe
eighty-odd of the real Ford GT40s, so I guess I have a
rough idea of what one should be like, and these new
ones sure impress me.
What’s more, Lee Holman is a thoroughly nice
bloke, and I’d like to see him succeed with his
do other people: David Piper, for example.
When big David says that he just loves driving
the Mark II, and he’ll even offer his very valuable
services for free, just so’s he can drive the car at
Daytona, you know this is one helluva fine race car.
And it’s even big enough for his fat ass.