Twenty-seven years ago, before Aston Martin and Jaguar began continuing runs of their coveted British racing classics: the DB4 GT and the E-Type Lightweight, a small shop in Charlotte, NC was hard at work on another racing legend. After taking over the company, Lee Holman—the son of Holman-Moody co-founder John Holman—started work to complete the first of sixteen original GT40 Mark II (MkII) chassis at the Holman-Moody shop.
Having beat Ferrari with a first, second, and third finish at the 1966 Le Mans 24 hour race, the MkII is one of the most famous race cars ever produced. Ford brought Holman-Moody on to the project after Shelby’s limited success in 1965 with the GT40 Mark I. Holman-Moody built fifty percent of the second generation GT40’s and Shelby America built the other fifty percent. The teams traded cars after each race to homogenize performance and share the intellect of each team. To remove liability from Ford, all MkII’s carried Holman-Moody serial tags. The serial tags documented Holman-Moody as the manufacturer of MkII’s and gave them legal ownership of the name. Over fifty years later, still in possession of the original machinery and tooling, Holman-Moody is completing MkII’s that are recognized by the FIA as 1966 originals—but new.
The cars are built at Holman-Moody Inc. in Charlotte, NC. Although the company has moved from its original location at Charlotte International Airport, the machinery, tools, and even some employees that produced the cars in 1966 continue production at the new shop. The majority of parts on the new cars are built so precisely they are interchangeable with those on the fifty-year-old multimillion-dollar race cars. Using blueprints, race reports, and countless documents from their 1960’s production, each piece is built to the original specifications.
The bodies are made using the original team molds and mechanical parts are machined to the exact measurements as they were fifty years ago. Like the winners of the 1966 Le Mans, the cars are powered by new original Ford 7-liter V-8 medium riser engines, hand assembled at Holman Moody. There is even a roadster option designed after the 1966 MkII roadster that won Sebring.
With the advantage of race reports and experience racing the MkII’s, Lee Holman informed us that “some modifications seemed necessary for safety. The oil cooler had been located in the fender well above the driver's feet, to avoid severe burns in accidents it is now positioned safely behind the passenger's seat.” The rear suspension pick-up point now uses two bolts to distribute the stress, as opposed to the single bolts on the older cars. Holman also described the improvements to the fuel delivery system. “We changed the original three pumps and multiple valves to a simpler and more reliable two fuel cell system, each having its own pump.”
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Nine original chassis await completion, starting at $700,000 to complete. That might seem like a lot, but with Aston Martin’s DB4 GT and Jaguar’s E-Type lightweights starting prices over $1.5 million, it begins to sound like a bargain. When asked about reproducing chassis after the originals are completed and sold, Lee did not seem interested. His intent is not to dilute the market for these historic cars, it is to finish what was started over 50 years ago.
HotCars would like to thank Lee Holman for taking the time to talk with us and provide pictures for the article.