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A revolution year on year

The car has revolutionised our society for more than a century and to preserve this evolution, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest created the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum, a setting for the great adventure in road mobility.

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Explore our collection

A revolution year on year

The car has revolutionised our society for more than a century and to preserve this evolution, the Automobile Club de l’Ouest created the 24 Hours of Le Mans Museum, a setting for the great adventure in road mobility.

1924
Voiture
Bentley - 3L Sport
1937
Voiture
Chenard&Walcker - “Tank” Z1
1937
Voiture
Simca 5 - Gordini
1949
Voiture
Ferrari - 166 MM
1958
Voiture
Cadillac - Eldorado
1964
Voiture
Porsche - 904 GTS
1971
Voiture
Porsche - 917 LH
1974
Voiture
Matra-Simca - 670 B
1976
Voiture
Inaltera - 77
1980
Voiture
Rondeau - M379
2003
Voiture
Bentley - Speed 8
Bentley
3L Sport
1924
Voiture

History 

Bentley: a victorious car...

When at the start of 1923, Walter Owen Bentley heard for the first time about a 24 hour race in western France, he thought that the event sounded interesting, especially as night races were banned over the Channel. The history of the Bentley Boys, a group of rich British gentlemen, without doubt contributed to the public’s passion for the British company.

The first of them, Captain John Duff, bought and prepared a 3-litre model that he used for a succession of speed records on the Brooklands circuit, before obtaining support from Walter Owen Bentley for the first edition of the “24 Hour Endurance Grand Prix”, which took place at Le Mans in 1923. For this Brit, the Le Mans race was undoubtedly the car event he had to participate in. Although the British builder had to be content with 4th place during the first event, the legend established itself from 1924, which saw the first of six victories, with a new car equipped with front disk brakes. Bentley quickly understood that a victory at Le Mans would lead to great media exposure and would establish the brand’s credibility.

The 1924 car was prepared by the factory, and despite several mechanical incidences during the race – the third gear got stuck – the manufacturer obtained the expected result: John Duff and Franck Clément won a Le Mans victory for Bentley. The British press gave rave reviews of the young car builder, resulting in increased sales as a direct consequence of this success.

Bentley
Year
1924
TypeType
Torpédo Van den Plas
owner
Sarthe Departmental Collection
engine
3L Red Label
cubic capacity
2996 cm³
power
82 bhp
maximum speed
165 Km/h
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1924
classification
1st
drivers
John Duff and Franck Clément
distance covered
average speed
140km/h
Chenard&Walcker
“Tank” Z1
1937
Voiture

History

The first prototype designed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

In 1925, Chenard&Walcker entered two small 1100 cm3 of the type “Tank” into Le Mans, which were designed and built by Toutée, the chief engineer. The chassis only weighed 600 kilos and these cars were extremely fast for their cylinder capacity. The presentation of these two models would draw much media attention at the time, because they were very different from the cars that were usually part of the race. Article 2 of the rules sets out that “the cars registered for the race must, in all their specifications, conform rigorously to the description in the product catalogue”. What would be made of the good will of Chenard&Walcker whose “Tank” hardly reflected the spirit of the touring car? In any event, they were entrusted to Sénéchal-Loqueheux and Glaszmann-De Zuniga.

49 competitors took part during this year. All  the  makes from previous years were there for the final of the triennial cup: Bentley, Amilcar, Aries, Bignan, Sara, Lorraine Dietrich and Chenard&Walcker.

The starting method used for the first time was the Le Mans method, the drivers  would now face their cars, but from the other side of the track. ACO’s installations had to move to the Mulsanne Straight, due to an overzealous local land owner. The race was frenzied, and at this pace came one withdrawal after another: only 16 cars finished the race.  De Courcelles-Rossignol gave Lorraine Dietrich its first Le Mans victory. Consolation for Chenard&Walcker: The two small “Tanks” took the two cups (Biennial and Triennial).

1837, the year when this car participated, marked the return of Chenard&Walcker in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Yves Giraud Cabantous entered two  “tanks” identical to the 1925 ones, and teamed up with Charles Rigoulot, winner of the Bol D’Or Automobile, known as “the strongest man in the world”. The two cars withdrew, one for leaving the track, the other due to a starter motor failure.

Chenard&Walcker
Year
1937
TypeType
Chassis: 1095 S4
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest
engine
Chenard & Walcker
cubic capacity
1095 cm3
power
44 bhp
maximum speed
1937: 170km/h
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1925
classification
13th
drivers
Raymond Glaszmann - Manson de Zuniga
distance covered
1813.24km
average speed
75.552km/h
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1937
classification
Abandon
drivers
Yves Giraud Cabantous - Charles Rigoulot
distance covered
2037.292km
average speed
Simca 5
Gordini
1937
Voiture

History

The wizard’s first work

Amédée Gordini, an Italian by birth, moved to France in 1925. Born in 1899 and an apprentice blacksmith at 14 years old, he discovered a passion early on in life for car mechanics. When he was operating a garage in the west suburbs of Paris, he became interested in the SIMCAs being made in Nanterre under Fiat licences. SIMCA’s director, the Italian Henri-Théodore Pigozzi made a few production car chassis available so he could prepare for the competition. Thus, in 1936, we see a “Simca 5 Gordini” in Montlhery, in the same year when, in the month of June, Popular Front unrest saw the cancellation of the 24 Hours of Le Mans! He would be even better prepared for 1937. Two Simca 5 Gordinis and some Simca 8 – 1100 Gordinis participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1937, 1938 and 1939. The tiny Simca 5 seemed like a toy – it is the smallest car with the smallest engine in the history of the race, but it qualified and was awarded the victory in its class – under 750 cm³ – where it must have been the only one!

After the Second World War, “the Wizard” moved to Paris – to the Porte de Versailles – and set up the “Gordini” workshop for building racing cars, which used increasingly fewer Simca elements. His cars stood out in both Endurance and Formula 1, for the quality of their mechanical design, their fragility and their lack of success, due to insufficient finances in the face of Amédée Gordini’s ideas.

Facing financial problems, Amédée Gordini approached the management of Renault in 1957. The budgets provided by the national company proved comfortable enough for the wizard to work his magic and talent on cars based on Renaults. A new era began, punctuated by famous stages, the Renault Alpine prototypes with Gordini engines at Le Mans, which won the index of performance in 1966 and 1968 and the general classification in 1978, but also the R8 Gordini Cup in 1966 and the victory of the Renault Alpine at the World Rally Championships in 1973. “The Wizard” passed away in 1979, at the age of 80 years old. The Simca make, purchased by Peugeot in 1978, became Talbot and finally disappeared in 1985 in France, creating its own company, ending the association with Simca.  Gordini was awarded the Légion d'Honneur for participating in all types of race up to F1. In 1957, following severe financial difficulties, Gordini had to abandon individual competition for ever. At this time a great collaboration with Renault began, who entrusted him with its competition department.

Simca 5
Year
1937
TypeType
Five - Le Mans
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest Collection
engine
4 cylinders
cubic capacity
568 cm³
power
30 bhp
maximum speed
135 Km/h
Image
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1937
classification
17th
drivers
Jean Viale and Albert Alin
distance covered
average speed
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1938
classification
15th
drivers
Albert Leduc and Athos Querzola
distance covered
average speed
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1939
classification
19th
drivers
Albert and Adrien Alin
distance covered
1999.5 km
average speed
83.3 km/h
Ferrari
166 MM
1949
Voiture

History

The Renaissance of the 24 Hours.

After three successive postponements, the 24 Hours was revived following a ten-year hiatus.  Huge loans were necessary to reconstruct the circuit that had been completely destroyed, since it was located just a dozen metres from the airfield that was bombed early in 1944. The go-ahead was given by Christian Pineau, the minister for transport. Located in the same place, the stands, rostrum and cladding were all renewed. The only vestiges of the past left were the Start and Finish panels donated by Michelin in 1936. At 76 years old, Charles Faroux, the father of the French motor sports press, had control over the race management.

This edition was the clash of the old and the new.  The advantage was on the side of the youth, but the former glories put in a credible performance. The Sarthe saw a new reign begin. Talbot, Delahaye, Delage, Aston Martin, Simca, Gordini, and even a Renault 4 CV participated this year. The female driver Viviane Elder took to the track in a Simca 8, with the 70 first-time drivers at Le Mans among the 98 shared across the 49 cars entered. The new press box for the rebirth of the 24 Hours, with a covered roof and glass side walls, was a coveted space. There was even an observatory on the circuit, It was, however, very difficult to enter without the all-essential pass. The site was completely overrun with crowds at the start and end times, provoking anger from journalists when the rostrum was filled with outsiders. The Cooperation defender caused a diplomatic incident when he asked the Mayor of Le Mans, who had come with some friends in the middle of the night, to go and watch elsewhere. This area was reserved for pass holders only, he told them! A public enclosure was set up on the route de Tours in the middle of the famous Mulsanne Straight. The spectators, all lovers of speed racing, could enjoy the passing cars, their exhausts screeching. To make concrete the government’s interest in the event after the ten year hiatus, the President of France, Vincent Auriol came to the victory ceremony to recognise one small red car, whose logo with a prancing horse on a yellow background would become famous: the 166 MM. Ferrari’s first success at Le Mans, the manufacturer went on to achieve 8 more until the mid-1960s.

It was during the winter of 1947-48 that the “166” was born. Despite the reticence of Commendatore Enzo Ferrari, Luigi Chinetti entered two 166Ms privately (MM, the memory of a victory in the Mille Miglia). The first, driven by Pierre Louis-Dreyfus and Jean Lucas, was eliminated due to an accident; it was the Chinetti and Lord Selsdon Number 22, slightly damaged, with worn out clutch and excessive oil consumption, that finished first in front of a Delage by more than one lap.  The very light aluminium body work of the touring car was resting on a steel multi-tube trellis frame, equipped with leaf spring suspension, transverse sprung at the front and semi-elliptical sprung at the back, maintained by Houdaille hydraulic shock absorbers.  But it was the engine that was the crowning glory and helped the Le Mans win, covering 3,179 km at an average speed of 132 km/h.

The car presented in the museum, donated in 1982 to the ACO by Luigi Chinetti, and completely identical to the victorious car, is only four series numbers away from it. After 1949, Luigi Chinetti became the exclusive importer of Ferraris in the USA.

Ferrari
Year
1949
TypeType
166 MM Touring car
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest Collection
engine
cubic capacity
1992 cm³
power
130 bhp 7000 t/min
maximum speed
201 Km/h
Image
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1949
classification
1st
drivers
Chinetti - Lord Selsdon
distance covered
3,179 km
average speed
132km/h
Cadillac
Eldorado
1958
Voiture

History

1957-58 Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Brougham

The incredible Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado Brougham is without doubt the most luxurious car that the American manufacturer has ever made. It was the queen of luxury cars.  Produced in a limited edition for a well-off clientele, it lent Cadillac a certain air of nobility through its cutting-edge technology. It stood out for its “brushed” stainless steel roof, its chrome bumpers and its so-called “suicide” doors with no central support. 

Its top end interior was a jewel of elegance and refinement, with air conditioning, six electric windows, an electrical remote control for opening/closing the boot from the driver’s seat, a glove compartment equipped with a silver guilloché cigarette-holder, a set of assorted cups with magnetic bases, a back armrest containing toilet bag necessities including a perfume bottle containing “Arpège” by Lanvin, an electrically-adjustable front seat with “preferred position” memory, an electronic eye that automatically activated high or low beams, and a separate back/front heating system with under seat fans. And as if that was not enough, the Fleetwood Eldorado Brougham was the first production car to have pneumatic suspension, providing even more comfort and a smoother drive. It is not surprising that the Fleetwood Eldorado Brougham was the car that every collector dreamed of acquiring.

Cadillac
Year
1958
TypeType
Fleetwood Eldorado Brougham tm
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest Collection
engine
V8 cylinder
cubic capacity
5973 cm³
power
335 bhp
maximum speed
176 Km/h
WINNERS
Image

At the front!

Porsche
904 GTS
1964
Voiture

History

Porsche 904 GTS

The 32nd edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was the ninth round of the 1964 World Sports car Championships. It was the year when the American giant Ford came face to face for the first time at Le Mans with the little Maranello workshop. The Ford - Ferrari duel began with a passion. Porsche, loyal to the Le Mans race, wanted to defend its chances with touring cars. And so there were no fewer than five new 904s that arrived at the “weigh-in”, in June 1964. The Stuttgart company also tried its luck with a prototype with two 904-8 cylinders but, wanting to compete with the larger cars, both had to abandon due to clutch problems. Luck smiled down more on the 904s in the GTs under 2L category, where the five GTS finished the race. The Buchet-Ligier team won a great seventh place for the German manufacturer in the overall classification, a victory in the GT category and in the performance index.

The car exhibited in the Museum was delivered on 26th February 1964 to the driver Herbert Müller. After several races and a phase of repairs at the Stuttgart factory, it was acquired at the beginning of 1966 by Albert Cognet, a BMW dealer in the Auvergne, who used it for several competitions (rallies, hill races).  He entered it into the Cévennes Criterium with Roger Rivière, the great racing cyclist and then record-holder in Mexico, who wanted to re-train in motor sport. The car proved to be fragile, and Albert Cognet, who was also a Michelin test driver, sold it to the manufacturer in 1967 in order to use it as a test car at the Ladoux technical shop. Its career was therefore very eventful, and it was later equipped with Citroën hydro-pneumatic suspension, which allowed the height of the body to be changed whilst it was being driven. The goal was to modify the centre of gravity, to measure the resistance of the tyre sidewall while under support. The car facilitated the development and fine tuning of the high performance tyres of the time. When its original engine – a 2 litre, 4 cylinder – was damaged, Michelin installed a 911 S-6 cylinder engine.  Finally entering retirement, it was stored in the Ladoux test centre workshops, abandoned under a tarpaulin. It was noticed by a mechanic originally from Le Mans, who spoke about the car to the ACO head of collections at the 24 Hours of Le Mans museum. Contact was made and Michelin was pleased to give the car to the ACO for the museum. Following an application made in 2015 with the Heritage Foundation and the sponsorship of the oil company Motul, the car was completely restored and since February 2017 it has been in fully working order.

Porsche
Year
1964
TypeType
904
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest Collection
engine
911 S
cubic capacity
1911 cm³
power
180 bhp
maximum speed
Approx. 230 km/h
Image
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1964
classification
7th
drivers
Buchet - Ligier
distance covered
average speed
Porsche
917 LH
1971
Voiture

A production prototype!

Ferry Porsche always knew how to interpret the signs of the times and technical evolutions.  In 1969, the International Sporting Commission decided to change the motor sports world champion rules. The new endurance rules allowed the German manufacturer to create a 4.5-litre model designed as a prototype but built in a series of 25 in the “sports” category: the Porsche 917 surprised spectators with its performance-volume compromise, which proved difficult to beat. From 1969, three Porsche 917s, two of which were entered by the factory, participated in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. None of them went over the finish line. The following year, for its 20th year of participating in the race, seven Porsche 917s were entered. The cars that had dominated the debates about the championship won the Le Mans race, the first in a long series of victories for the manufacturer. With 4,607.810 km covered at 191.992 km/h on average, the victory went to Ferry Porsche, who saw his name in the top three places. In 1971, the 917 won The 24 Hours of Le Mans again, setting a record that would not be broken for 39 years, partly due to the changes in the circuit layout: 5,335 km covered at an average speed of 222 km/h. The beautiful sports car joined the hall of fame, it was voted “competition car of the century” by the British magazine Motor Sport. A change in the rules led the 917 to be placed forever in the museums in 1972. Today, she is glorious still during historic events.

The Porsche 917 on long-term exhibition at the Museum was donated by Porsche to the ACO in 1972. It was part of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1971... With number 17 and under the sponsorship of the Gulf oil company, entered by John Wyer’s British team and forced to pull out during the 18th hour due to an oil leak. The agreement between Porsche and Gulf was ended for the 1972 season, but not the one with Martini. Porsche took the car and resprayed it with the Martini colours, the same as number 21 entered by Martini in 1971, which had to pull out during the 9th hour. And that is why today number 17 looks like the number 21 on display at the Porsche Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen museum! Restored in 2010, following an application made to the Heritage Foundation, with the support of the oil company Motul, it is now in working order.

Porsche
Year
1971
TypeType
917 LH
owner
Collection of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest
engine
12 cylinders
cubic capacity
4907 cm3
power
520 bhp
maximum speed
388 Km/h
WINNERS
Image

Aerodynamics down the Mulsanne straight.

Matra-Simca
670 B
1974
Voiture

Three for the “French blue” cars

The journey began in 1964, when Marcel Chassagny, founder of the company “Mécanique Aviation TRAction”, specialising in aeronautics and weapons, began to take an interest in cars, in order to diversify the company’s activities. Cars were in fact a great communication tool. With the financial backing of business man Sylvain Floirat, and helped by Jean-Luc Lagardère, poached from Dassault, a new company was created: Matra Sports.

The acquisition of the client René Bonnet for whom Matra was a sub-contractor of the polyester bodywork in its Romorantin factory, also gave the new firm an audience of auto sport fans.

The goal was clear: to win the world championships in Formula 1 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The F1 title was won in 1969 (with a Ford engine), and in Endurance the World Championship for Makes title was won in 1973, an achievement won after two 24 Hour victories (in 1972-1973). It therefore took little persuading for the “French blue” cars to come to Le Mans again in 1974. The absence of Ferrari and the contract with Alfa-Romeo made the French manufacturer a great favourite and Lagardère didn’t hesitate to present his “French team” as the future winner of the year’s race. The opposition was weak, but at Le Mans... Anything can happen. At 7:36pm, Jarier began to pass Beltoise; coming out of the pit, he could not avoid a skirmish with Keller’s Porsche Carrera RSR. The  Matra 680 had  to do a complete lap at a slow pace before being turned over to the hands of the experts. The repair took 54 minutes, leaving it 14 laps behind the leaders. 8pm marked the first point of high emotion for Jabouille and his Matra 670 B! Alerted by his thermometer, he had to enter the pit several times before the cylinder head gasket leak was detected. During this time, at dusk, Goodyear’s "Europa N2A” hot air balloon was out in the Le Mans sky: its sides had display screens and it broadcast the classification and advertising, much to the great joy of the public and local population who hadn’t been able to get into the circuit. Things were looking up for the evening! The fairground was in full swing and the prestigious music broadcast by Europe N°1 set up in the village, played to a sold-out crowd. At 11.40pm, without warning, the Beltoise V12 stopped on the Mulsanne straight.  There were only two Matras left, and one was damaged. On Sunday, at 10.51am, the voice of the speaker, Jean-Charles Laurens announced that the Matra had stopped at the top of the Mulsanne straight: it had a problem with the gear box! After a 45-minute wait, Pascarolo was able to get back on the track with only a 3’ 06” advance on the Porsche Turbo, so stood in 2nd place. The German was weakened and it was finally, with a 6-lap lead, that Larousse and his 670 B crossed the finish line. After another victory at Le Mans, Matra had become a legend.  The extraordinary adventure ended after 124 victories in various disciplines. The sound of the V12 Matra engine running at 10,000 t/min on the Mulsanne straight will remain forever in the memory of those who heard it.

Matra-Simca
Year
1974
TypeType
670 B
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest
engine
Matra V12 – 4 ACT
cubic capacity
2999 cm3
power
490 bhp
maximum speed
335 Km/h
Image
WINNERS
Image

I won for France

Inaltera
77
1976
Voiture

Inaltera 1976-1977

Tired of not finding a vehicle to meet his ambitions, the audacious local Jean Rondeau decided to build his own cars. Supported by the Lyon wallpaper manufacturer “Inaltera”, he lined up two prototypes for the 1976 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GTP category, which had been newly created by ACO. With a victory in the bag in his category and an 8th place in the overall classification, the ambitious local decided to return in 1977 and gained 4th place overall with Jean Ragnotti. One of the three  Inaltera cars during this year had a completely female team. Lella Lombardi and Christine Beckers  finished eleventh, and won the 24 Hours of Le Mans Women’s Cup. Proof of the passion of those involved, the three Inaltera cars are still running and one of them participates regularly in the historic events, such as “The Classic Le Mans”.

Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans 1977 - 11th in the overall classification.

Inaltera
Year
1976
TypeType
owner
Sarthe Department Collection
engine
Ford Cosworth V8
cubic capacity
2993 cm³
power
460 bhp
maximum speed
330 km/h
Image
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1977
classification
11th
drivers
Christine Backers & Lella Lombardi
distance covered
3815.288km
average speed
158.970 km/h
Rondeau
M379
1980
Voiture

A history

For Jean Rondeau, 5 June 1980 was the best day of his life. Jean Marc Tesseidre, a journalist with the Auto Journal wrote: “Cry tears, citizens, the day of glory is here. ”. For the first time in the history of the 24 Hours, a driver was victorious in a car that he himself built.  This achievement is even more appreciated because it was won against a giant: Porsche! At Le Mans – in the town and throughout the Sarthe Department – there was a phenomenal reaction, because Jean Rondeau was a local and his car had been designed and built here! Only the engine – the best of the time, a Ford Cosworth – came from elsewhere, from England. Since his childhood, brought up with the 24 Hours, Jean Rondeau dreamed of becoming a driver and participating in the race. But he never found a car that lived up to his ambition.

Racing cars were very expensive, but through sheer determination and passion, this local driver broke down all the obstacles one by one, found a solid first sponsor – Inaltera – and successfully constructed his own cars. A new category created by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the GTP (Grand Tourisme Prototype) would be the ideal opportunity for Rondeau. During the winter of 1975-1976, Jean Rondeau, with good advice and a team of loyal friends, made his first cars, which bore the name of the wallpaper manufacturer “Inaltera”.  After a victory in the GTP category in 1977, the partnership with his main sponsor was dissolved and the cars were sold. Jean Rondeau built another car, the M378, for the 1978 24 Hours. The car, only completed several days before the qualifying rounds, came in only 40th. But the team fought on and finally finished 9th and first in the group.

In 1979, two Rondeau cars finished 5th and 10th respectively, and the day after the race, Jean Rondeau was already thinking of the next year. In 1980, after 26 hours of trials at Le Castellet, the team arrived in Le Mans with three cars in Group 6. The M379 had electrical problems and Rondeau and Jaussaud came close to not qualifying for the race. There was a storm when the race began and the more daring competitors took advantage of the weather to get out in front. The Porsche 935s, in Group 5, were very competitive in the rain, and it was only with the return of the sun, those in Group 6 came back into the race, albeit with difficulty. The Pescarolo-Ragnotti duo seemed most at ease, however after midnight engine problems got the better of the Rondeau N° 15. Twenty-nine leaders came one after the other and the race remained uncertain. At the front, several hours before the chequered flag, the Rondeau-Jaussaud creation began to come into its own. But not before the dream became a nightmare. The M379’s starter motor began malfunctioning and, after each refuelling, the mechanics had to spray it with cold water. Very tired, Jean wisely let his team mate take the wheel.  Equipped with slick tyres, the intermittent rain made the Rondeau dance over a waterlogged track. In second position, the Ickx Porsche 908/80 became increasingly heavier, but the rain cleared and the sun dried the track. The Porsche got off lightly with a double, useless tyre change. Victory was looming for the Rondeau and it was Jean-Pierre Jaussaud who crossed the finish line through a human tide. He told the story: "Four timesthe car was in a dangerous position. Each time I managed to pull it back, but the fifth time, it swung round right up to the crash barriers. The first miracle was that nothing was damaged. The second was being able to get going again. But he Ford motor only started on the third attempt. Making us the favoured ones, today.”

In 1981, although Porsche was first on the podium, 2 Rondeaus were 2nd and 3rd. The new M482 designed for 1982was no less competitive. Jean Rondeau died prematurely at the end of 1985 in a stupid accident with a train on a level crossing; he was 39 years old. But he wrote the best page that Le Mans has ever seen in the history of the race.

Rondeau
Year
1980
TypeType
M379-003
owner
Private Collection
engine
Ford-Cosworth V8
cubic capacity
2993 cm³
power
455 bhp
maximum speed
Image
WINNERS
Winners Icon
Participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans
1980
classification
1st
drivers
Jean Rondeau - Jean-Pierre Jaussaud
distance covered
average speed
Bentley
Speed 8
2003
Voiture

Bentley Speed 8

A car designed by the manufacturer Bentley for racing in endurance events. Five-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans during the pre-war years, the company’s official return to the Sarthe department in 2001 was the main event for that year. Its popularity has been such that, 70 years later, a group of supporters took to the road with authentic 3 litre, 4.5 litre and Speed 6 vehicles, still going strong, to experience Le Mans. The company was bought in 1998 by the VAG Group (Audi-Volkswagen), and the three British Speed 8s owed much to Audi, in particular the engine, which came from the Audi R8. In 2001, the green cars did not manage to shine when up against their silver counterparts. Back again in 2002 as a test bed for improvement, 2003 saw the beautiful “Anglo-Germanic” creation give her competitors little chance on a slightly modified circuit on the descent, which took over from the Dunlop Bridge.  In pole position and gaining a tour record during the race, the Kristensen-Capello-Smith trio won Bentley its sixth Le Mans victory, including first place in the LM GTP category, achieving 5,145.571 km at an average speed of 214.399 km/h. It is the fifth best performance in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, counting all circuits.

Bentley
Year
2003
TypeType
Speed 8
owner
Automobile Club de l’Ouest Collection
engine
Audi 8 cylinders in V2 Turbos
cubic capacity
3994 cm³
power
600 bhp
maximum speed
350 Km/h
WINNERS
Image

The return of the Bentley Boys

De Dion Bouton
1890
De Dion Bouton
1900
24h