By Ron Ruelle
Technically speaking, I found this exotic car at a yard sale (rather than in a barn) a few weeks ago. It’s a 1:18 Jouef Evolution Ford GT40 in Gulf colors. It’s not perfect, but seldom do you stumble onto a pristine real GT40 for sale, either. On this one, the windshield wiper is missing and the clear deflector on the hood is chipped. And it was dusty, like any proper barn-find. But for five bucks, this model made over 20 years ago was a real steal.
Parked next to models of 1:18 street cars, the GT40 is tiny in all dimensions. You don’t really get that sense when you see one sitting in the paddock or in a museum with other comparably-sized race cars. But despite its size, this Jouef car is really heavy–there’s a lot of metal in here.
The doors open in such a way that only a short, thin, flexible person could possibly get into the car. (Dan Gurney, who is not short, famously had Ford add a bubble to the roof to give him more room. This isn’t a model of Gurney’s car, so no bubble here.)
The undercarriage detail is rather sparse, but that’s accurate… the aerodynamic bottom of the real car is smooth as a baby’s butt, too.
Other nice details are the guide pins that help hold the hood in place when it’s closed. The removable panel up front reveals a spare tire featuring the same gorgeous wheels with orange knockoffs.The tire is a bit narrower than the ones mounted on the car, but you don’t notice that unless you try to remove it. (Don’t, by the way. It’s permanently attached.)
The paint is lovely (and in fantastic condition for a used car) but doesn’t have the Gulf logos or other sponsor decals. Also, the windshield shows some wear where someone had moved the missing wiper back and forth a few times. Which brings me to my conundrum… Even though it’s kind of rare and old and in good shape, should I tear this car apart and add more detail? Paint, plumb and wire the engine? Add some appropriate race wear and grime?
Did I mention this version of the car won the 1968 24 Hours of Le Mans? Lucien Bianchi and Pedro Rodriguez drove it to victory that year. So it might be appropriate to add some champagne spray to that post-race finish since the aforementioned Gurney started that tradition at Le Mans the year before.
[Ron Ruelle is Social Media Guy for hobbyDB.com, a database and marketplace of everything and anything collectible. He lives about a mile from the Shelby American Collection, so a day at the museum for some additional research might be in order.]