Howdy folks. It’s Rear View Prints here again with another car blog to hopefully keep you entertained through this deeply unsettling and wretched year. For fans of automobiles in general, there’s always going to be something hugely romantic about the classic racing car. As a child, a toy car was one of the first objects that stirred a sense of excitement within a lot of us petrolheads that would evolve in different ways. It started with a fascination for hot wheels toy racers, which then branched out into the broader pop culture universe.
We liked Batman, but we loved the Batmobile. James Bond was and is an icon of the silver screen, but it was the history of the beautiful cars he drove that attracted our fascination the most. So then, it’s with great pleasure that we’ve been able to put together a list of 7 of the most iconic racing cars to ever take to the tarmac. We hope you enjoy reading as much as we did putting this list together.
A note on criteria: This isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list of the most iconic racing cars ever made, just a small selection of some of our favourites. Although ‘iconic’ could be considered somewhat subjective, we’ve used a small combination of style/looks along with accolades and novelty to produce this list.
The Brawn BGP001 is an anomaly and a startling one at that. It almost never happened, so the legend goes. Honda binned its F1 team towards the end of the previous season leaving a racing car and a team of people in its wake. The former Honda management team managed to secure an engine deal with Mercedes at the final hour. What happened next was one of the most shocking, one-of-a-kind, debut seasons in F1 History.
Using a loophole that allowed them to engineer their car with a double diffuser, the Brawn BGP001 raced out of the blocks to eventually take an unassailable lead in the championship before competitors learned how to catch up. An F1 iconic racing car like this will never happen again, and that’s a part of what makes it so special.
Until recently, the Mazda 787B was the only Japanese manufactured car to find success in endurance racing. That wasn’t the only reason it was iconic though.
Its beautiful design and rotary engine added to this Beast from the East’s status and mythos. Despite its famous 1991 victory, it wasn’t really exploited in the marketing sector, although the Mazda brand did see a notable rise in popularity in the UK for its road cars.
What adds up to iconic status when it comes to a race car? Well, if its the drivers then the McLaren MP4/4 is undoubtedly way ahead of the pack. In 1988, two of the most famous drivers in F1 history teamed up to drive the McLaren MP4/4; Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.
The results were explosive as expected. 15 pole positions and 15 wins out of 16 only begin to tell the tale. The car itself contained a 1.5 turbocharged engine supplied by Honda which started off a routine of winning for the McLaren Honda collaboration. None of the future winning seasons would quite compare to 1988 though.
When it comes to iconic design, there are perhaps not many more cars that fit the bill so perfectly than the Lancia Stratos. Its hugely recognisable wedge aesthetic only begins to describe the legacy of this car, which won the World Rally Championship three years in a row from 1974-1976 while still remaining competitive in the early 80s.
With a mid-mounted engine sourced from Ferrari, it may have been the Group B era that stole the headlines, but it’s the Stratos that lives long in the memory of car fans around the globe.
You didn’t think we’d have a list without mentioning this machine, did you? When it comes to iconic racing cars you’ll be hard pushed to find a better example than the Ford GT40. Designed to take on the European might of Ferrari, the GT40 delivered the first American win in a major European race since Jimmy Murphy’s win with Duesenberg at the 1921 French Grand Prix.
After outclassing Ferrari and the rest of the competition in 1966, it dominated the rest of the era with another three straight triumphs. There’s not much to tell you about this legendary car that’s not already well-known, especially after the hugely successful Ford vs Ferrari film.
Another race car, another member of Le Mans royalty. This beautiful piece of German engineering celebrated its 50th-anniversary last year, and boy did it have a lot to look back on and celebrate.
Famously giving Porsche its first-ever Le Mans victory, many consider the 917 to be the Porsche model that sent the brand over the top. Cited by many car designers as a huge inspiration, the 917 was as visually arresting as it was devastating on the track. It’s an iconic combination as iconic can be.
It was tough to pick out a Ferrari racing car to be on this list, and we’ll no doubt be criticised for what we didn’t include. But when it comes to pure iconic racing cars, it’s hard to look past the Ferrari F2002. A lot of its mystique is owed to its pilot, of course, the legendary Michael Schumacher. But the vehicle itself was also a technological landmark for the Ferrari racing brand, as well as one of the most successful cars in F1 history, amassing 15 victories, 28 podiums, and 11 poles.
Thanks again for reading another one of our blogs. You can buy some of the cars featured here in glorious print form by visiting our store and having a browse. You can also follow us on twitter, instagram, and facebook too. Until next time folks!