Question: What race combined time-speed-distance rallying, circuit racing and hillclimbs into a single event? The answer, as the photo clearly shows, was the Tour de France Automobile. First run in 1899, the TdF generally consisted of 17 sections, covering more than 3600 miles, including 10+ hours of circuit racing. For 1964, Ford brought forth an maximum effort, with Alan Mann Racing prepped Lotus Cortinas, and it’s new Ford Mustangs (with engines supplied by Holman Moody) contesting both touring car classes, while Shelby-American ran its new Cobra Daytona coupes in the GT class.
With the FIA refusing to homologate the 250LM for the GT Class, the Scuderia was forced to dust off its 3 year old 250GTO to combat Shelby’s Daytonas. In the Porsche entered a quartet of 904GTS’s, while Alfa Romeo countered with its formidable TZ1, driven by Coupe des Alpes winner Jean Rolland. In the touring car classes, Bernard Consten, who won this class 5 consecutive times, returned with his Jaguar Mk2 to face the Mustangs, while BMC’s works squad of Mini Coopers, headed by Paddy Hopkirk, Rauno Aaltonen and Timo Makinen and a quartet of Alfa Romeo Giulia Tis would be than a match for Vic Elford, Henry Taylor and the Cortinas.
In the GT class, the Cobra Daytonas got the better of the GTO’s in the early stages with Bob Bondurant winning the opening race at Reims and the first hillclimb at Bramont. And while Bondurant dropped out at Clermont-Ferrand, Maurice Trintignant took over the overall lead and held serve against the outdated Ferraris. However the dominance of the Daytonas was short lived, as the two remaining Shelbys broke down within miles of one another on their way to the Cognac circuit races. This left the field clear for the GTO’s of Lucien Bianchi and Jean Guichet to finish 1st and 2nd overall. The Porsche 904 quartet stood head and shoulders above Rolland’s TZ1 to round out the Top 7.
In the touring car class, Consten’s Jaguar was faster than the Mustangs on the hillclimb stages, but Ford’s new pony car had too much speed on the circuits for the relatively underpowered Mk2. In the end, the Mustangs of Procter and Harper would break Consten’s winning streak, leaving him 3rd in class and 10th overall. The BMC works team drove brilliantly early, but the tough conditions and unrelenting pace would ultimately knock the Mini Coopers out of the field. Vic Elford would hold off the Alfa Romeo Giulia Super Tis to win the small bore touring car class and finish 11th overall.
We were able to locate a portion of a Standard-Triumph produced documentary on the 1964 Tour de France Automobile, narrated by the unofficial narrator of Morning Qualifying, Raymond Baxter. In addition, we recommend this exactingly detailed account of the 1964 race.
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