William Deary, owner of The Carroll Collection, bought the car after filming.
Who buys a movie car after it was used to win in a racing film, in this case the recently released Ford v Ferrari? How does the average enthusiast even get the chance to buy such a car?
The answer to the first question is William Deary. He’s an entrepreneur who really isn’t “average” as car guys go, although the resident of Jackson, Michigan, is not a well-connected enthusiast in the classic sense. Deary has a Garage Mahal of sorts that houses The Carroll Collection, a dozen cars that includes a Shelby Mustang from every year of the original run except 1967—and when I met with him, he was working on a purchase that would fill the gap. The collection has about two dozen cars total, the remainder of which are kept in a warehouse. They include three Oldsmobile-powered Shelby Series 1 roadsters, although there’s no Shelby Dodge Omni GLH quite yet.
“I think it is special that over 50 years later, people are still talking about the GT40, and Ford Motor Company and Carroll Shelby and the Ferrari debacle,” Deary says. “You don’t see a lot of that with the American car companies having that tradition or legacy or history.”
Director James Mangold’s Ford v. Ferrari premiered on November 15 and finished its first weekend in first place at the box office, grossing $31 million. Ford Motor Company had precious little participation in the film. “It doesn’t sound like they did much at all,” Deary says of Ford’s participation. “That was a bit of a surprise.”
The cars in the movie are not, strictly speaking, real Fords. Or real Ferraris. Stunt coordinator Robert Nagle told us that except for some vintage models used during exterior shots of Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, the race cars were reproductions. That’s what Deary bought: a Superformance GT MkII, with right-hand drive, a right-hand gearshift, and a Gurney bubble, just like the ’66 24 Hours of Le Mans winner. Deary expects to drive it as often as his other favorites. “Everything goes out [for a drive at least] twice a year,” Deary says of his collection. “Fall and spring.”
His most frequently used cars are parked closest to the door, including a 2004 Ford GT and a 2017 Heritage Edition Ford GT in the same No. 2 white-over-black livery as the ’66 Le Mans winner. There was an open space during my visit next to the newer GT for the movie car, which was away in New York City for an appearance on NBC’s Today Show.
The vehicle that forged the connection enabling Deary to buy the No. 2 movie car is back at his warehouse. “When they were looking for period cars to put in the movie, one of the pieces I have is a 1964 Ford Econoline I made into a replica of the Carroll Shelby School of High Performance Driving van. It was a period-correct vehicle [like that] used by the race team. Someone who knew me called and said, ‘Hey, don’t you have one of those?’
“Then I started asking questions about, can we get a hero car? That went back and forth and ultimately, I was given the privilege to acquire the replica of P1046, the black No. 2 car that Chris Amon and Bruce McLaren drove to win Le Mans ’66. That car was built to be an exact replica. That’s 80 percent of that car you can interchange with a period GT40. Things have been changed—on both sides [of the original], they had fuel bladders. It was like a big inner-tube full of fuel.”
It surprised us that someone like Matt Damon or even Ben Collins—ex racing driver and former Top Gear Stig, who stunt drove and played Miles’s co-driver Denny Hulme in the movie—didn’t buy the movie’s P1046. “You think you’re surprised?” Deary replies. While he won’t disclose his purchase price, Deary says the movie car didn’t cost much more than a new MkII direct from Superformance. “I was expecting a bigger number, myself.”
The lack of a ’60s-era Ford GT created what Deary considered one big hole in The Carroll Collection, and an original car could run as much as $5 million, based on most recent sales. His purchase price wasn’t the full price, though. “At the end of the filming, the car was really beat up.” Just the opposite of his ’64 Econoline, which was returned in pristine condition. Of course, the van didn’t have to simulate competing in races. Deary bought the P1046 replica after filming wrapped at the end of summer 2018, but didn’t take possession until last December, after it went back to Superformance for some bodywork.
“It was pretty nasty,” after filming. “They put about 500 miles on the car. You’d have thought it was driven through brand-new tar. A third of the car was totally black underneath.” He toyed with possibly keeping the “patina,” but after all, that came from simulated races, not real ones. Nagle, the stunt coordinator, told Deary how hard it is to drive a GT40, even the modern replica, so he figures he’ll need some years with the car before he campaigns it in vintage races. He currently competes with a ’66 Shelby GT350.
Meanwhile, he’s making long-term plans for The Carroll Collection. Deary has proposed self-funding an exact replica of Shelby American’s original shop in Venice, California, to be built on the grounds of The Henry Ford museum at Greenfield Village, housing his period-correct cars and other donations or loans. Meanwhile, if you’re upset that you’ve missed out on a movie car from Ford v. Ferrari, there’s still time. Mecum Auctions will offer the Arcadian Blue Shelby American No. 1 Superformance GT MkII replica, the car driven by Christian Bale as Ken Miles for the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans, next January.