Peter Anderson | Aug 21, 2012

A Gulf-liveried Ford GT40 has been sold at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance for an eye-watering $11 million.

This car, tied to screen legend Steve McQueen, was one of three to go for huge sums during the course of the weekend.

One of motorsport's most recognisable racers, original GT40s fetch huge sums thanks to the legendary low-slung lines, exclusivity and on-track success.

For this one - the so-called McQueen GT40 - the lure of a winning history, a movie-star association and a curious-yet-famous usage, all add up to the perfect storm of value and exclusivity.

Even the auctioneers got it wrong, citing a pre-auction value at 'just' $8 million.

This machine, chassis P/1074, is that rarest of beasts: a 1967 example, one of only two left in the world, was built as a lightweight racing special.

It started life as a Mirage M1 (chassis M.10003) and was later converted to a Group 4 GT40 in 1968 after a rule change concerning engines forced a rethink.

Mirages were based on the GT40 and built in England by JW Auto Engineering for the purposes of racing in Gulf colours.

The car in question had a moderately successful racing career, winning in Mirage form at Spa in 1967 - at the hands of F1 driver Jacky Ickx - and at Monza in 1968 as a GT40.

1074 was also campaigned in various series by Hobbs and a few other notable names, including both Ickx and Isle of Man TT legend Mike Hailwood.

Interestingly, despite its association with the actor and racing enthusiast, the car was never actually owned by Steve McQueen.

Once its racing career came to an end, the car was sold to David Brown - of Tampa, not Aston Martin.

ford gt40 steve mcqueen 05

Brown then leased it to Solar Productions, McQueen's production company, for use on the Le Mans project.

The Solar team, aided by manufacturers JWAE, took to the car with a hacksaw, removing the roof and some panels to fit cameras and seating for their operator, Alex Barbey.

Rendered inoperable, the doors were taped shut. Various different GT40 parts were also fitted, including the twin-nostril nose from roadgoing GT40s.

The car was present to film sections of the 1970 Le Mans 24 Hours for use in the film.

Driver Jonathan Williams reported that the car became almost uncontrollable at high speed, calling it "diabolical." Dutch drift expert Rod Slotemaker was called in to replace Williams.

The suffering of car and crew gave us the most visually spectacular and realistic racing sequences in cinema history.

The car was reclothed after filming wrapped, and restored back to its Gulf colours in 2000 after passing through several owners during the previous quarter-century.

ford gt40 steve mcqueen 07

The auction house responsible for the sale, RM Auctions, had another GT40 for sale at Pebble Beach this week. Sold on Saturday, chassis P/1059 fetched $2.86 million.

With two owners and an allegedly genuine 4749 miles (7694km) on the clock, the GT40 road car was a 1967 Mark I used by Shelby American for promo work.

Another auction house sold a GT40 for $4.95m on the same day.

The $11m price tag makes the McQueen GT40 the most expensive American car ever sold at auction. The previous record holder, a Duesenberg roadster, sold for $10.34 million in 2012.

Surprisingly, however, $11 million doesn't come near either the world or Pebble Beach records. A collector bought a 1957 Ferrari Testa Rossa at last year's Pebble Beach event for a superlative-dodging $16.4 million.

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