We’re back on familiar territory this week at Rear View Prints, discussing some of the best Le Mans cars ever to take to the Circuit De La Sarthe tarmac. We are sure that you are just as excited as we are about the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, and what better way to celebrate than a rundown of some of the finest machines to ever race in the competition. As always, we welcome civil debate in the comments section. The list won’t be perfect, we are definitely going to leave out somebody’s favourite car, and we expect you to be less than thrilled about it. But remember, it’s just a list and it’s all just opinion. We’re all here because we love cars at the end of the day! So without any further ado…
It’s nice to kick off a list of best Le Mans cars ever with a unanimously loved car. The Mazda 787B was a stylish icon of the competition and a true underdog story. The only Japanese car to ever win Le Mans to date, originally no one took the Mazda 787b seriously as a competitor. Its rotary engine turned out to be extremely reliable and fuel efficient, more than its competition. It won the 1991 Le Mans and was retired immediately after its victory. It remains a legend of motorsport to this day.
The beauty of the Porsche 917k on the outside masked some serious issues on the inside, which probably adds more depth to the legend of the car. It took Porsche to its first ever Le Mans win in 1970, but not without, as previously mentioned, some difficulties. The driver of the Porsche 917K Richard Attwood admitted after the race that the gearbox had failed while he was 8 laps ahead, citing reasons that Porsche had not done enough testing. Even so, the car went on to win and sparked a period of real dominion for the German manufacturer, with only Audi recently coming to rival it.
British race car royalty, that’s a pretty good way of describing the Jaguar D-Type. It dominated Le Mans during the 50s and built a fantastic legacy on the track with 5 wins between 1951 and 1957. It also served as the prototype for the Jaguar E-Type, one of the most popular sports cars ever made. As far as the best Le Mans cars ever go, it’s certainly up there.
Bentley Speed Six
A list of the best Le Mans cars wouldn’t be complete without the prestige of the Bentley Speed Six. Like a lot of cars on this list, it had a specific period of dominance over the competition. It was between 1924 and 1930 where it racked up a total of 5 wins and was considered one of the most powerful cars in the world.
Ferrari 250 LM
Arguably, no other cars on this list combined beauty and power as well as Ferrari. The manufacturer won every Le Mans from 1960 to 1965. The Ferrari 250 LM was one of the picks of the bunch, taking first place in 1965. It also goes down in history as one the rarest Ferrari cars ever made, with only 34 models ever produced. This combination of rarity and beauty make it a fine entry on a list of best Le Mans cars ever.
Where to begin with the Ford GT40? The famous one-two-three finish in 1966? The crown snatch from Ferrari and consecutive Le Mans wins from 1966 to 1969? How about its well loved and much spoken about origin story? In case you didn’t know, the Ford GT40 was a car born out of revenge. After Enzo Ferrari reneged on an agreement with Henry Ford II to sell Ferrari, Ford was furious. He spent millions on creating a car to rival Ferrari’s dominance. The rest is history.
Only just recently supplanted by homecoming kings Porsche, Audi had a glorious period of dominance over Le Mans from the year 2000 to 2014. It was only bettered twice in this period by the Peugeot 908 and Bentley Speed 8. There are a few candidates that could have taken this entry on the list of best Le Mans cars ever, but consensus points towards the Audi R8. It won 5 times between 2000 and 2005, including a one-two-three victory in 2000, followed by a one-two victory the year after.
McLaren F1 GTR
It was the 1995 Le Mans that was the McLaren F1 GTRs starring year. It won the competition overall and took third, fourth, fifth and 13th place. Not bad for a car that wasn’t originally supposed to race. It was only pressure from fans that got McLaren to develop the F1 GTR race car, and we’re glad they did.
We hope you enjoyed this rundown of the best Le Mans cars ever. Please leave us a comment on DriveTribe or on our website as we’d love to hear what you think. You can purchase prints featuring some of these cars from our website, www.rearviewprints.com. Catch up with us on twitter, facebook, and Instagram too for more blogs and automotive art. Until next time!