The Gulf livery colours originated with the Gulf Oil Corporation in 1967, when its then vice president, Grady Davis, decided to enter his own GT40, #1049, as an independent entry at both Daytona and Sebring. The car was finished in the standard Gulf Oil colours of dark blue with orange trim. In that same year Ford USA decided to withdraw from sports car racing, and, in turn, Gulf Oil Corporation took over the sponsorship of the newly acquired GT40 race team, J.W. Automotive Engineering Ltd., referred to as JWAE.
With the new 1967 season underway, the first official Gulf cars were known as Mirages. These cars not only sported a new body and roofline, which differed from those of the standard GT40s, but also featured a new distinctive colour, which the racing world would come to know as the now famous Gulf Powder Blue (code #P030-8013), and which was accented with Marigold (code #P030-3393) orange trim. Just three of the Mirage cars were built, 10001, 10002, and 10003, of which just one (10001) exists today.
Of the two other Mirages, one was destroyed and the other was rebuilt into a new Gulf livery GT40, 1074. Car 1075 utilised a new Mirage tub, but 1076, its sister car, was constructed on a standard GT40 chassis. These cars benefited from lightweight carbon-fibre-reinforcement to the body panels, with the rear clamshell bonnet being wider than on the standard GT40, so as to accommodate the deeper-offset lightweight BRM magnesium wheels, also finished in the distinctive orange. There are just five of these cars listed in the World GT40 Registry as being JWAE/Gulf livery cars. The chassis numbers are as follows: 1074, 1075, 1076, 1084, and 1086. The first three cars (1074, 1075, 1076) would go on to a superb racing history, with 1075 eclipsing all by winning Le Mans, not once but twice, in 1968 and 1969.
The fourth car, 1084, started life as a 1965 chassis (1004). In 1968 an extra car was needed for Spa, in May of that year, so that 1074 could be rested and prepared for Le Mans. The new car (1004/1084) duly went on to race as a Gulf livery car at Spa, where it finished in fourth place.
The last Gulf livery GT40, chassis 1086, has the ultimate production number in the original GT40 production run, P1000-1086. This is the final GT40 to be completed to the order of JWAE and on an original Abbey Panels chassis which originated in1967. After the end of JWAE’s racing program, this car was retained by John Willment, by then the team’s sole owner.
With the exception of 1075, which was held by the Gulf Oil Corporation, and for many years displayed in a museum, the remaining Gulf livery cars were quickly sold to a few fortunate private collectors. However, some years later, 1075 was itself also acquired by a private collector. The Gulf livery GT40s, in their distinctive colours, are amongst the most photogenic cars ever.