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Makes that should have won Le Mans


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#1 dmj

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 21:41

Sad news of passing of Briggs Cunningham got me thinking. Surely it's a great shame none of his cars managed to win at Le Mans - I am sure both the man and team deserved a win there.
But I'd like to hear your thoughts who else deserved that prestigious win but never managed to grab it. As for drivers, there are too many worthy candidates but here I am more interested in manufacturers. One obvious candidate has to be Stutz - it always intrigued me what would happen if an American car won the race back in Twenties. Wouldn't it be a challenge for other Americans to take this race seriously much earlier than they eventually did? Other team that deserved win IMHO was Toyota. GT One was faboulous car and Katayama's last laps were unforgettable... For sheer enthusiasm I'd like Don Panoz to see his car winning it once, too... Then Maserati, certainly (but I somehow feel they are going to do it one day - do you really believe that man who made Renault F1 engine will work only at road car engines?). Overall victories for Abarth or DB would surely be too much... but one can hope. Any other worthy candidates?
I'd also like if Aston Martin won it more than once... Or to see Alfa Romeo winning it after WWII. Too bad there were no Fiat or Sunbeam teams in early years...

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#2 dretceterini

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 21:57

Gordini, for one. A marque who's potential was never fullfilled. Also, Chrysler in the 1920s..and Delahaye in the 1930s..

#3 petefenelon

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Posted 03 July 2003 - 22:03

De Cadenet - he put a lot of effort, money and talent into some very good cars - a few bob more might've given them just the nudge they needed.

Toyota - came so damn close...

WR - one day the ACO will fiddle the rules so they win it ;)

pete

#4 2F-001

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 00:25

Toyota, with the GTOne-thing, was the example that came first to my mind.

Naturally, I'm tempted to say Chaparral ( :) ) in '67, considering the Ford opposition they were up against - but I guess Sebring, Monza, Spa (had it been dry) and the 'Ring would have been more likely wins for them that year...

#5 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 00:47

Posted Image

...of course.

#6 Marcor

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 00:48

Delahaye won Le Mans in 1938.

But not Delage (2nd in 1939 and 1949).

#7 dretceterini

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 01:00

Marc:

Thanks. For some reason I always seem to get that backwards.

#8 bill moffat

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 10:25

if the ACO had not upset Colin Chapman so much I suspect that Lotus would have developed a challenger for overall victory over the years.

However they nearly won in '67 (think about it..).

#9 petefenelon

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 10:33

Originally posted by bill moffat
if the ACO had not upset Colin Chapman so much I suspect that Lotus would have developed a challenger for overall victory over the years.

However they nearly won in '67 (think about it..).



David Thieme tried to tempt him back. There was a scheme in the early 80s for an Essex-Lotus Le Mans car. Ground-effects, obviously, and a novel power unit - a Rolls Royce Gem gas-turbine helicopter engine. The prodigious exhaust from this was to have been used to gain some more downforce too, apparently. Tony Rudd did the sums and reckoned it could've been a winner...

It's described at some length in Crombac's Colin Chapman: The Man And His Cars, although more as an example of the influence Thieme exerted on Chapman than as a serious racing car!

pete

#10 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 10:44

Originally posted by bill moffat
.....However they nearly won in '67 (think about it..).


Tricky...

Of course it was the Zahnradfabrik friedrichshafen problem again, wasn't it?

...on a day when the carpark was for both the living and the dead cars...

#11 2F-001

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 11:06

I was baffled for moment there...
We've switched to the ''Bugatti'' circuit now, I take it!

#12 Macca

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 11:08

"Tricky...

Of course it was the Zahnradfabrik friedrichshafen problem again, wasn't it?

...on a day when the carpark was for both the living and the dead cars..."


GP's don't count, otherwise we'll probably end up back on races Chris A**n should have won!

How about Nissan? Or Lola, especially in '67? And of course Courage.


Paul Mackness

#13 bill moffat

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 11:25

Originally posted by Ray Bell


Tricky...

Of course it was the Zahnradfabrik friedrichshafen problem again, wasn't it?

...on a day when the carpark was for both the living and the dead cars...



Spot on Ray. I think it took Lotus another year or so (Tasman championship '69) before they realised that some guys along the road from them built a pretty useful gearbox...

Apologies for deviating from the true thread. I would love to have seen Courage win Le Mans, maybe the ACO can "do a Matra" and engineer further rule changes to enable this.

Do we need a new thread to discuss cars that SHOULDN'T have won Le Mans..I can think of a few who have backed into victory over the years !

#14 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 11:29

Originally posted by bill moffat
Spot on Ray. I think it took Lotus another year or so (Tasman championship '69) before they realised that some guys along the road from them built a pretty useful gearbox.....


From my dim memory...

I seem to remember that Chapman was drawing up some new sideplates for the boxes on the way home from Le Mans... but I also think they had Hewlands by the end of the year.

Maybe Roger can clear that up?

#15 VAR1016

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 11:45

Lancia would probably have won in the early 1950s if Gianni hadn't lost his nerve; and they were unlucky not win at the end of the 70s/early 80s.

Hispano-Suiza could have won easily had they bothered to enter!

PdeRL

#16 ensign14

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 12:02

Courage, there is still time.

#17 lanciaman

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 12:08

Originally posted by VAR1016
Lancia would probably have won in the early 1950s if Gianni hadn't lost his nerve; and they were unlucky not win at the end of the 70s/early 80s.

Hispano-Suiza could have won easily had they bothered to enter!

PdeRL


Lancia was a surprise at The Glen for the 6 Hours in 1980, when they upset Porsche and went on to win the Makes Championship; there were 2 works MonteCarlos and one Jolly Club privateer. The works drivers included Patrese, Cheever, Alboreto and Heyer. Lancia was leading in points going into the race, and it rained heavily, giving the much lighter Lancias yet another advantage. It was a v. serious and well-done effort that I thought would translate to a LeMans victory. And the Monte paint schemes were outstanding.

#18 petefenelon

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 12:26

Originally posted by ensign14
Courage, there is still time.


I have to say I'd rather it was Pescarolo's private Courages than the works - dunno why but something about the look and sound of his cars (and Pesca's own Le Mans heritage!) has captivated me!

Next year could be amusing. No Bentleys, only customer Audis...

I'd love to see a 675 win for the DBA or the Pilbeam - they're both gorgeous little cars that really can race, rather than grumbling around reliably like the Reynard-VW ;)

(ISTR that someone years ago (Gebhardt?) had a Weigel-Audi engine that was basically the VW Golf turbocharged; is there much difference between that and the ROC/Lehmann/VW?)

#19 BRG

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 12:49

Originally posted by bill moffat
Do we need a new thread to discuss cars that SHOULDN'T have won Le Mans..I can think of a few who have backed into victory over the years !

I think that I would argue against a claim that any car SHOULDN'T have won Le Mans.

Anyone who is still in the running for a win after 24 hours deserves full respect, even if ultimately they are profitting from the misfortunes of others. At the end of the day (a very apt phrase in this instance!) it is the man leading at 4pm who wins Le Mans.

But you might just convince me if it is a case of ACO's infamous "variable geometry" rule book setting up a win...

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#20 dmj

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 12:53

Originally posted by bill moffat
Do we need a new thread to discuss cars that SHOULDN'T have won Le Mans..I can think of a few who have backed into victory over the years !

Cars, definitely... But makes? I wouldn't define any win as undeserved. But let's say that for example in years when BMW, Mazda or Mercedes-Benz won there were others that seemed to more deserve it... (I'm not talking about Sauber-Mercedes here...)
And somewhat OT, was Sunbeam in 1925 a works entry? Anyway, I appologize for that mistake in my first post...

#21 petefenelon

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 15:56

Originally posted by bill moffat

Do we need a new thread to discuss cars that SHOULDN'T have won Le Mans..I can think of a few who have backed into victory over the years !


...or took excessive advantage of loopholes in the rules - I must say I've little regard for the Dauer Porsche 962's win...

If Dauer had gone out and built a new Porsche-based car I would've been right behind them, as it was, just tarting up a 962 and claiming it's a road car, honest, was pretty poor form.

(Yes, Mercedes and Porsche effectively built dedicated racers later, when GT escalation had set in, but the Dauer was competing against "real" GTs....)

#22 bill moffat

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 15:57

So most of us have a soft spot for the French hardy perennials such as Courage and WM/WR.

How about the Inaltera/Rondeau effort ?. The unlikely combination of Vic Elford and a French furniture company conceived a compact DFV powered coupe which evolved into the victorious 1980 Rondeau.

A worthy winner or just a lucky combination of wet weather, fuel regs and Porsche's bad luck.. Discuss.....

#23 ensign14

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 16:28

Originally posted by petefenelon


...or took excessive advantage of loopholes in the rules - I must say I've little regard for the Dauer Porsche 962's win...

If Dauer had gone out and built a new Porsche-based car I would've been right behind them, as it was, just tarting up a 962 and claiming it's a road car, honest, was pretty poor form.

(Yes, Mercedes and Porsche effectively built dedicated racers later, when GT escalation had set in, but the Dauer was competing against "real" GTs....)

:up: Perhaps the easiest Le Mans win because it was simply not a level playing field.

#24 jk

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 16:38

Originally posted by dmj
Cars, definitely... But makes? I wouldn't define any win as undeserved. But let's say that for example in years when BMW, Mazda or Mercedes-Benz won there were others that seemed to more deserve it... (I'm not talking about Sauber-Mercedes here...)


In 1999, nobody deserved the win more than BMW. Remember that the Kristensen/Lehto/Muller car dominated the race, even before Brundle and Boutsen's Toyotas retired. BMW was simply faster than Toyota and Mercedes.
The drivers in the winning BMW was soo outpaced, that Martini even felt that the other car was getting a better car... however when Katayama was charging during the latter part of the race, Martini was able to matct the times set by the other BMW.

#25 jk

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 16:40

Originally posted by ensign14
:up: Perhaps the easiest Le Mans win because it was simply not a level playing field.


But Irvine got very, very close to winning the race in the Toyota. Would only a couple of ours left, the gearbox failed, and Irvine was relegated to 3rd.
But a big charge saw him pass Stuck for second, when Stuck was blocked by cars, waiting for the finish at the Ford chicane...

#26 Roger Clark

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 17:42

Originally posted by Ray Bell


From my dim memory...

I seem to remember that Chapman was drawing up some new sideplates for the boxes on the way home from Le Mans... but I also think they had Hewlands by the end of the year.

Maybe Roger can clear that up?


Quite right about the sideplates, but it was the 1968 Spanish GP and the 49B before Hewland 'boxes arrived. During the ZF era, Lotus didn't change gear ratios, just gearboxes. This wasn't so simple with the DFV.

#27 Ray Bell

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 21:31

Thanks Roger...

Yes, the 49 had a lot of suspension brackets (continually modified ones for a long time...) etc hanging off the gearbox, it wouldn't have been as easy at all.

#28 wildman

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 21:51

AC Cobra - the Daytona coupe should've won on looks alone. Ditto for Chaparral and the 2F.

#29 mp4

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Posted 04 July 2003 - 23:48

Originally posted by Ray Bell
Posted Image

...of course.


Please excuse my ignorance regarding this car. What might it be?
Is it a WM?
IIRC, they had some sort of car with a motor shared by three different companies.
Volvo rings a bell as having a very domestic version of said V6 as a power plant.
Even if I'm completey wrong about Ray's pic, do any of you remember what this motor was?

#30 petefenelon

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 00:09

Originally posted by mp4


Please excuse my ignorance regarding this car. What might it be?
Is it a WM?
IIRC, they had some sort of car with a motor shared by three different companies.
Volvo rings a bell as having a very domestic version of said V6 as a power plant.
Even if I'm completey wrong about Ray's pic, do any of you remember what this motor was?


It's an early WM, yes.

Their engine was the 2.7l PRV (Peugeot-Renault-Volvo) V6 - supported "through the back door" by Peugeot.
About 2.7l, and by the time they got to the "Projet 400" cars, nudging 900bhp in qualifying trim, IIRC.

#31 bill moffat

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 09:27

Originally posted by Roger Clark


Quite right about the sideplates, but it was the 1968 Spanish GP and the 49B before Hewland 'boxes arrived. During the ZF era, Lotus didn't change gear ratios, just gearboxes. This wasn't so simple with the DFV.


Thanks Roger. Am I right in thinking that the 49T Tasman cars continued to use ZF 'boxes and were the subject of a swap to Hewlands mid-series ?

#32 Roger Clark

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 11:04

Originally posted by bill moffat


Thanks Roger. Am I right in thinking that the 49T Tasman cars continued to use ZF 'boxes and were the subject of a swap to Hewlands mid-series ?


Yes, this is 1969 of course. Rindt got a new car with Hewland after his crash at Levin and Hill's was converted a race or two later. rindt's new car was to full 49B specification.

Incidentally, I can't understand the original 49s Lotus sent to the 1969 Tasman series. Rindt's was apparantly R5, Hill's R8. Both were in "pre-49B" spec as regards front suspension, non-ducted nose and gearbox. Yet R5 had raced in full B spec for most of the 1968 Grand Prix season and R8 was apparantly new. Why did they run them in the old specification?

Sorry about the deviation from the main theme of the thread.

#33 Ray Bell

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Posted 05 July 2003 - 12:42

Saving the good bits for the serious business of F1?

Perhaps it was reckoned that the lesser torque of the 2.5s would be okay with the ZFs? If they were lying around unused, why not use them a little and save on the Hewlands? After all, they knew the ratios for all the circuits (bar Lakeside...) at this time.